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Carmakers fear EU plans to ease data flows will help tech rivals

European car manufacturers are seeking full control over the data sent to them by ‘connected vehicles’ they put on the road, and fear a move by Brussels that would impose sharing that data with rivals.

European car manufacturers are seeking full control over the data sent to them by ‘connected vehicles’ they put on the road, and fear a move by Brussels that would impose sharing that data with rivals.

Connected cars are still just a catchphrase. Even if it’s caught on in Brussels, manufacturers are only just getting started putting out cars with internet functions.

But they are already nervous that the European Commission’s plans to clamp down on how they use data from vehicles will put a damper on what they will earn off the new technology.

Günther Oettinger, the EU digital policy chief, is getting ready to announce new measures to control how firms use big data this autumn. Several sources with knowledge of the file said it’s penciled in for 30 November, but officials are still scrambling to decide what kind of rules they want.

Car manufacturers are angling to control data that’s sent to them from vehicles and are afraid a move to impose rules on how they use that data or sell it to partnering firms would be bad for business.

The European Commission is nudging car manufacturers to develop connected and driverless cars, although auto industry sources say vehicles that run entirely without the help of a driver will not  be up for sale in Europe for several more years.

Big data and competition

The powerful antitrust chief struck a nerve with the car industry by choosing connected cars as a stand-out example of how big data could threaten competition.

Manufacturers want to latch onto data to help them weather the transition to connected cars, which some analysts say could drive up the cost of vehicles and lead to lower sales as consumers opt for cheaper car sharing services.

Manufacturers are already on edge ahead of Oettinger’s announcement, which could create the first-ever EU rules on how companies access and share large quantities of personal data collected from machines or appliances that connect to the internet.

Car companies fear they’ll lose out if the rules prevent them from controlling data from vehicles and choosing to contract out to other firms that provide internet connections or other functions like in-car entertainment.

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