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Data broker shuts down product related to driver behavior patterns

The revelation earlier this year that General Motors had been selling driver behavior patterns to data brokers — who in turn packaged and resold it to insurers — has led at least one of two major data brokers to shut down its related product. 

That data broker, Verisk, disclosed last month that it has stopped accepting data from car makers and no longer sells the information to insurers, according to the organization Privacy4Cars, which received the response after sending the data broker an inquiry.

"Verisk received driving data from vehicles manufactured by General Motors, Honda, and Hyundai and may have provided a Driving Behavior Data History Report ("Report") to insurers upon request, as a service provider to such insurers, that included certain data provided by these manufacturers,” the Verisk response to Privacy4Cars said.  

“Please note that Verisk no longer receives this data from these automakers to generate Reports and also no longer provides Reports to insurers,” the statement added.

While Verisk has stopped selling car company-provided driver behavior patterns to insurers, LexisNexis Risk Solutions continues to prominently promote its driver behavior data product for insurers despite the mounting backlash from state governments, federal officials and consumer groups. 

LexisNexis Risk Solutions’ Telematics OnDemand page remains online, boasting that it is “bringing automakers and insurance carriers together.”

“By partnering directly with automotive OEMs, LexisNexis is able to turn connected car data into tangible driving behavior insights that can be leveraged within insurance carriers' existing workflows,” the page says.

Spokespersons for LexisNexis Risk Solutions and Verisk did not respond to requests for comment. Much of LexisNexis Risk Solutions’ work remains shrouded in secrecy.

At an industry conference last month, the company’s Global Data Protection Officer Rick Gardner refused to tell Recorded Future News how many automakers the company works with.

However, the company’s Telematics OnDemand web page shows logos for Kia, Subaru and Mitsubishi Motors next to a blurb detailing its exchange partner program with automotive companies.

Those three automakers and General Motors are currently under investigation by the Texas state attorney general’s office for deceptive trade practices related to their handling of vehicle owners’ data privacy.

Subaru and Mitsubishi Motors did not respond to requests for comment.

General Motors shared a statement saying that based on customer feedback, the company “terminated partnerships with LexisNexis and Verisk in March, and announced we're discontinuing the Smart Driver product.” 

A Kia spokesperson said in a statement that its Kia Connect program includes terms that “allow Kia to share basic driving information with LexisNexis to create the score which is then provided to the customers.”

About 90 days after the data is shared, the spokesperson said “customers have an option to provide an additional consent if they want this score/data to be shared with insurance carriers.” 

“If this consent is not provided, the customer will continue to see their score. However, this is not shared with insurance carriers,” the statement added.

Despite declining to say how many automakers LexisNexis Risk Solutions works with, Gardner was more direct about the company’s relationship with insurers.

“We do a lot with insurance companies,” he said, acknowledging that “oftentimes buying and selling of data has a negative connotation.”

When a moderator asked him how LexisNexis Risk Solutions creates a data acquisition strategy that is “resilient” against increasing regulatory change, Gardner said his firm prioritizes data minimization principles. 

“The acquisition has to be thoughtful and targeted,” Gardner said. 

He added that LexisNexis Risk Solutions emphasizes “making sure we're appropriately partnering with the group that we sell to and ensure they're using it [data] responsibly.”

Gardner also said his firm prioritizes “transparency,” understanding the purposes for which its clients will use its data and ensuring that the right for consumers to opt out is respected where applicable.

Criticism of General Motors exploded in March after a news report revealing its work with insurers surfaced. Pressure on the auto industry at large is ratcheting up with  California enforcement authorities joining Texas in investigating automakers’ driver data sharing practices.

Congressional leaders and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) also have put the industry on notice in recent months.

Editor's Note: Story updated 10:25 a.m. Eastern on June 12 with statements from General Motors and Kia. 

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Suzanne Smalley

Suzanne Smalley

is a reporter covering privacy, disinformation and cybersecurity policy for The Record. She was previously a cybersecurity reporter at CyberScoop and Reuters. Earlier in her career Suzanne covered the Boston Police Department for the Boston Globe and two presidential campaign cycles for Newsweek. She lives in Washington with her husband and three children.