Talk Business: GPS technology benefits used car industry, privacy concerns remain

Talk Business: GPS technology benefits used car industry, privacy concerns remain; used car sales to rise in 2017 by Jeff Della Rosa

Used car dealers have shifted to using GPS tracking devices to keep tabs on vehicles over the years, and they’ve come with several benefits, including automated collection and payment reminders for customers, a device provider said. But privacy concerns remain.

Chris Macheca, chief operating officer for PassTime, said the company’s first devices didn’t include GPS. They were more of a clock that reminded customers when their loan payment was due, and if it was “exceedingly overdue,” the device could “prevent the vehicle from starting.”

That was 1997. Fast forward nearly 10 years when GPS technology was added, allowing the devices to locate a vehicle in order to repossess it or to function as an anti-theft device. Over the years, the company has sold more than 2 million such devices, and last year, the company sold more than 300,000, Macheca said. PassTime’s primary customer for the devices is the automobile industry, and industrywide, dealerships have been installing between 1 million and 1.5 million of them annually.

I’ve said this before: What if police running the LPN shows a lien held by used car dealer? A warrant likely wouldn’t be needed to get the GPS information since it’s a third party record. The GPS was installed before the car was purchased when the buyer had no reasonable expectation of privacy in it. But another twist: the buyer has no idea he’s being tracked all the time by the seller. What are his rights in the GPS information?

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