Think data privacy is only something for “technology” or “internet” companies? Think again— America’s car companies certainly have. On Wednesday November 12, 2014, two trade groups  representing 19 of the largest car companies in the world sent a letter to the Federal Trade  Commission (“FTC”) outlining privacy principles the companies have committed to follow.

Recognizing that consumers’ cars are increasingly becoming sources of complex, sensitive data  about consumers’ actions and locations, the automakers have committed to seven broad principles:

  • Transparency
  • Choice
  • Respect for Context
  • Data Minimization
  • Data Security
  • Integrity & Access
  • Accountability

These principles are based on the Fair Information Practice Principles developed in the 1970s  to guide the use and collection of data. The automakers have committed to these principles as a  baseline for protecting consumer information gathered by their cars’ systems. The principles will be  applied to cars released in model years 2017, 2018, and beyond.

Creating self-regulatory guidelines is a way for industries to signal to consumers and regulators  that the industry takes data privacy seriously and may help to ward off calls for regulators to impose  rules on an industry. In the past, various marketing groups, including behavioral marketing and digital  signage makers, have adopted industry self-regulatory policies following pressure from privacy  advocates and regulators.