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May 9, 2017

CAA Comments in Support of the Senate Transport and Communications Committee’s Study on the Regulatory and Technical Issues Related to the Deployment of Connected and Automated Vehicles
Appearance before the Senate Standing Committee on Transport and Communications

  1. Good morning. Monsieur le président et honorable sénateurs et sénatrices, merci pour l’invitation de parler aujourd’hui de nos préoccupations, et les attitudes et préoccpations des canadien(ne)s, au sujet des véhicules branchés et automatisés.
  2. Most of you will be familiar with our brand. Founded in 1913, CAA today is a non-profit federation of nine clubs providing more than 6.2 million Members coast-to-coast with emergency roadside services, automotive, insurance, rewards and travel services. CAA has also, since the beginning, advocated on issues of concern to its Members. Today those issues include road safety, the environment, mobility, infrastructure and consumer protection.
  3. Approximately one in four adult drivers in every province is a CAA Member, and today our comments will provide an important perspective – that of drivers – as it relates to connected and autonomous vehicles.
  4. It’s important to study connected and autonomous vehicles together, since the development of both is so inter-related, but it is also important to keep in mind that they are different things. When we refer to ‘connected cars’ – these vehicles have already been developed and are spreading. And virtually all vehicles produced today include some form of what we can call automation, ranging from cruise control to parking assist. Fully autonomous vehicles, however, may take anywhere from five to 30 years to become prevalent.
  5. Similarly, you would be remiss not to examine the future of electric vehicles in your study. But again, EV is not a synonym for AV, nor for connected vehicle. In the future we are likely to be driving autonomous, connected vehicles powered by a non-internal combustion engine. But each of those developments, while linked, will proceed on its own timeline, and presents its own opportunities and challenges, for consumers, companies, and policymakers.
  6. When it comes to the connected cars we have on the road today, they are already amassing volumes of data. Many in the technology sector now believe a single vehicle will soon generate 1 GB of data per second. In May 2015 (http://www.digitaltrends.com/cars/tesla-constant-cellular-tests-autonomy/), Tesla reported that it had collected 780 million miles of driving data in the previous 18 months and that it now adds another million miles every 10 hours.
  7. At CAA, we believe one of the pressing, current issues in the area of connected and automated vehicles relates to transparency and consumer control over vehicle data.
  8. In a February 2017 CAA national opinion poll, 49% of Canadians said that they were not aware of the range of data being collected by their vehicle. And, when it comes to sharing of that vehicle data, nearly 90% of Canadians agreed that the consumer should decide who gets access to their vehicle data.
  9. Interestingly, the same poll also found that nearly 70% of Canadians think that in-car data technology is very or somewhat beneficial while a strong majority – 82% – of Canadians are also concerned about it. And yes, those two numbers add up to more than 100%. The explanation is that a sizeable number of Canadians are able to see both the benefits and the risks of in-car technology. Those who express concerns are not just Luddites – they include people who enjoy adopting new technologies.
  10. Overall, the poll found that 81% of Canadians feel there is a need for clear, enforced rules to protect the privacy of their personal information when it comes to vehicle data.
  11. CAA has long held that vehicle owners should be informed about what data is being collected, and be able within reasonable limits to choose with whom they share it. It must not be a take-it-or-leave-it approach where in order to enjoy the benefits of in-car technology the owner must abandon all rights to privacy. Only your phone, after all, will know more about you in this brave new world than your vehicle does.
  12. In this context, we note with approval Privacy Commissioner Therrien’s comment before this committee last month that his office is interested in the development of a code of practice as it relates to privacy for connected cars, and his call for federal leadership that is proactive rather than reacting on a complaint basis when it comes to this issue. However, we should not confuse the possible funding of a third-party report into the issue, or a commitment to leadership, with the idea that the consumer interest has been taken care of.
  13. We would also note that a bill currently before the US Senate, titled The Security and Privacy in Your Car Act, would direct the administration to establish federal standards to secure American cars and protect drivers’ privacy. This would include a privacy rating system for consumers, “clear and conspicuous notice” to the driver about what data is being collected, if it’s being transmitted or saved, and how it’s being used, and finally, the ability for a driver to opt out of data collection without interfering with their ability to use navigation tools. It’s an interesting piece of legislation.
  14. I’m conscious both of time and the fact, honorable Senators, that your brief is wider than just data privacy, so let me close with a little more on the autonomous vehicle.
  15. When asked in our polling about the benefits that would come from AVs, only 50% commented that they envision AVs leaving them more time for leisure activities during their commute. This runs counter to what many in the field feel is a primary benefit. The top benefits cited were improved accessibility for people with mobility issues, and addressing driver fatigue.
  16. There is no doubt that autonomous vehicles will be a boon for road safety. CAA supports the responsible development of autonomous vehicles and believes connected cars are already here and will soon become ubiquitous. And we salute the timing of this study, since it is now, and not after the fact, that policymaker should consider the federal role and the ramifications for citizens of these developments.
  17. There are many questions to be considered in addition to privacy – from consumer acceptance, to readying government infrastructure at all levels, to moral and ethical concerns, to implications on the insurance industry, and in due course solving how autonomous vehicles will co-exist with so-called ‘dumb’ cars on shared roadways. We thank you for your invitation to speak to you today and look forward to your questions.

– END –



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