The Nissan LEAF (Leading, Environmentally friendly, Affordable, Family) car is currently being put through the paces in the hands of Casey Halverson, a network engineer at InfoSpace. At the heart of the LEAF is CARWINGS, a “telematics system” used for plotting and displaying various internal functions such as energy consumption, charge status as well as the ability to display content pulled from the internet. Nissan has taken the technology of the car and is attempting to empower users with it by providing information about the car instantly through iPhone apps and an always-connected web app. Unfortunate for many LEAF owners, it would seem that Nissan may have overlooked customer privacy when developing the system.
In addition to requesting data through an RSS feed, CARWINGS takes it upon itself to pass along your current location in the form of GPS co-ordinates, speed, direction and more. What’s worse, is that any configured feed is given the information and it can be harvested by third parties.
While there are many legitimate uses for providing these details, such as location-aware feeds for weather, driving directions or even traffic details – it would seem that at no time is this told to users and no option is available for opting out.
A video documentation shows off CARWINGS in use, set up with a simple feed that takes the information the LEAF has stored and provides it back to the user. Whether or not LEAF owners will consider this a gross invasion of privacy due to how such information can be leverage or if they find it a nice luxury that they don’t have to enter in their current location to see it’s raining will largely depend on how Nissan explains to the general customer why they share this information.