automakers oppose traffic light: no data trustee desired

Insurance : automakers vs. traffic lights: no data fiduciary wanted

There is a dispute between manufacturers and insurance companies over the management of data from cars

Munich/Berlin According to the traffic light coalition agreement, a trustee is to oversee the use of car data – a long-standing demand of the Allianz insurance company. But the car manufacturers are against it.

By Carsten Hoefer, dpa

The German government’s plan for a trustee for car data is meeting resistance from manufacturers. The trustee is to ensure the sovereignty of car owners over the wealth of data generated by their vehicles, as well as data access for authorities, insurance companies, TuV or even car repair shops.

The German Association of the Automotive Industry (VDA) fears additional bureaucracy as well as abuse: “However, the VDA rejects the so-called trustee model for the transfer of data, as we believe it entails various disadvantages,” VDA Managing Director Joachim Damasky said in response to a query.

Discussions about the auto data fiduciary have been going on for years, largely instigated by Allianz, Germany’s largest insurer. “For the competitively neutral use of vehicle data, we are striving for a trustee model that adequately takes into account the access needs of users, private providers and government bodies, as well as the interests of affected companies and developers,” reads the coalition agreement of the SPD, the Greens and the FDP.

New business models are conceivable

That’s not very concrete, and the Federal Ministry of Transport is not giving details at this early stage: “We ask for your understanding that we cannot provide detailed information on individual projects at this time,” says a spokesperson.

Project Trustee involves a host of conflicting interests and unanswered questions: from auto repair to developing new business models. This includes the availability of car data for accident investigation as well as the question of whether car manufacturers and suppliers will be forced to share the fruits of their software development with third-party companies in the future.

Potential interested parties would include start-ups as well as large IT corporations from the U.S. or insurance companies. “Consumers and consumers could benefit from new services as their cars become digitalized and connected,” says Jorg Asmussen, the chief executive of the GDV insurance association.

Data should be managed neutrally

Initially, Allianz and the insurance industry are concerned with unhindered access to data following damage and accidents. “The important thing is that it’s not a market player,” says Christoph Lauterwasser, head of the Allianz Center for Technology (AZT), about the planned trustee. “When it comes to accident clarification or product liability, for example, the data trustee should not be an insurance company, or an automaker, or anyone else actively involved with these issues, but a neutral entity.”

The insurance association calls for a right of access to car data for its member companies in principle, but has not committed to a specific model. “Data from networked cars does not belong to the manufacturers,” but rather belongs in the hands of the owners, GDV CEO Asmussen emphasizes.

“They must be free to decide to whom they transfer vehicle data.”A mobility data law should make this competition-neutral use possible. “Whether such competitively neutral access to data is through a trustee model or otherwise is a secondary issue.”

Allianz wants control for customers

Lauterwasser also emphasizes that it is very important to the alliance that the user is given control over the data. “This would also be perfectly sufficient for us as an insurance company, since we could then also obtain the necessary vehicle data for accident clarification via the customer’s duty to cooperate in claims settlement.”

Clarification of these issues is urgently needed, says the Allianz security expert. “Currently, the first vehicles with automated driving functions are being certified by Mercedes.”Other manufacturers would follow suit.

“This raises the question of where exactly the driving mode data is stored, and how the customer can access it?” There is no regulation on this yet. “In that respect, from our point of view, this should be addressed now,” says Lauterwasser. For implementation, the Alliance believes a European solution via vehicle type approval would be recommended.

The automotive industry is basically ready to share the data generated in the vehicle, emphasizes VDA managing director Damasky. “We want to make vehicle data accessible to third parties, but ensure that it cannot be manipulated during transmission.”

“Trust Center” of the automakers?

The manufacturers’ counter-proposal amounts to leaving car data in the care of the industry and establishing a “trust center” to ensure its integrity. “So it’s a body that certifies data quality,” says Damasky. The proposal is called Adaxo, short for Automotive Data Access – Extended and Open.

From the manufacturers’ point of view, the vehicle owners should give their consent to the external use of the vehicle data. “We believe a trust center model dilutes data sharing and is not user-friendly. For this reason, we advocate for one-stop querying, via the vehicle manufacturers’ backends.”Backend in IT parlance means the parts of a computer system that are invisible to users, i.e., servers and other infrastructure.

Another point: “The release must be for a specific purpose,” Damasky says. So from the manufacturers’ point of view, not every interested party should have unlimited access to car data from the outset. Allianz has a different take: “independent third parties” should also be able to offer services “without the vehicle manufacturer acting as a gatekeeper,” says AZT head Lauterwasser.

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