Your Car Stores Your Text Messages - Law Enforcement Can Retrieve Them Anytime, Following Federally Rejected Lawsuit


Your car is smarter than you think.

And it is not a violation of privacy for your car to automatically store text and call data from your cell phone, following a ruling from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit.

Modern convenience often comes with a price of sacrificed privacy, but in this case, the plaintiffs claimed they were unaware of what they were signing away when they connected their smartphones to their cars.

A class-action lawsuit brought against the car manufacturers Ford, General Motors, Honda, Toyota and Volkswagen asserted that under the Washington State Privacy Act, drivers’ privacy had been violated due to the fact that “the vehicle’s system downloads all text messages and call logs from Plaintiffs’ cellphones as soon as they are connected.”

“If text messages or call logs are deleted from a cellphone, the vehicle nevertheless retains the communications on the vehicle’s on-board memory, even after the cellphone is disconnected. Vehicle owners cannot access or delete their personal information once it has been stored,” the court said of the plaintiffs’ complaint.

Wealthy Man Allegedly Shoves Woman Off Her Bike, Flees the Scene Leaving Her a Bloody Mess

In its defense, Ford argued that drivers of their vehicles had given “implied consent” for the storage of personal data, adding that it provides for a “factory reset” procedure on its website to wipe the memory board of all stored data.

Ford was also able to prove that it did not have access to, nor could it store, any text or call data from customers’ vehicles.

The privacy concern from the plaintiffs, therefore, came down to the risk of the third-party data retrieval company, Berla.

Berla produces hardware and software, marketed to law enforcement clients, that can extract stored phone data from connected vehicles.

Will you be more careful about texting in your car?

On its own website, Berla claimed that by using its data retrieval products, “having access to a suspect’s connected vehicle is the next best thing behind having the actual phone itself.”

The 9th Circuit found in favor of Ford, and subsequently the other car manufacturers, because the plaintiffs had failed to prove an actual injury for the alleged breach of privacy — which is required under law to receive damages.

While Berla’s products might provide a whole new avenue of evidence collection by law enforcement, police must still go through the due process procedures of receiving a court order to obtain such data.

Despite the lawsuit finding in favor of the car manufacturers, consumer advocates are still very concerned with a wide array of privacy pitfalls with vehicle technology.

A September report by Mozilla News’ *Privacy Not Included team called modern cars the “worst product category we have ever reviewed for privacy.”

Wealthy Man Allegedly Shoves Woman Off Her Bike, Flees the Scene Leaving Her a Bloody Mess

The team researched 25 car brands and concluded, “Every car brand we looked at collects more personal data than necessary and uses that information for a reason other than to operate your vehicle and manage their relationship with you.

“They can collect super intimate information about you — from your medical information, your genetic information, to your ‘sex life’ (seriously), to how fast you drive, where you drive, and what songs you play in your car — in huge quantities. They then use it to invent more data about you through ‘inferences’ about things like your intelligence, abilities, and interests.”

Even more alarming, they discovered that 84 percent of the car brands they reviewed share or sell that data, according to the report.


A Note from Our Deputy Managing Editor:

I walked into the office one morning and noticed something strange. Half of The Western Journal’s readership was missing.

It had finally happened. Facebook had flipped THE switch.

Maybe it was because we wrote about ivermectin. Or election integrity. Or the Jan. 6 detainees. Or ballot mules.

Whatever the reason, I immediately knew what to do. We had to turn to you because, frankly, we know you are the only ones we can trust.

Can you help? Every donation to The Western Journal goes directly to funding our team of story researchers, writers and editors who doggedly pursue the truth and expose the corrupt elites.

Can I count on you for a small donation? We operate on a shoestring compared to other news media companies, so I can personally promise that not a penny of your donation will be wasted.


If you would rather become a WJ member outright, you can do that today as well.

We will use every single cent to fight against the lies and corruption in high places. And as long as we have your help, we will never give up.


Josh Manning

Deputy Managing Editor

The Western Journal

Truth and Accuracy

Submit a Correction →

We are committed to truth and accuracy in all of our journalism. Read our editorial standards.

, , , ,