Freyja van den Boom “Vehicle data controls: Balancing interests under the Trade Secrets Directive”

Working Paper No. 07-2020

November 2020

As vehicles are becoming more connected and increasingly autonomous, new opportunities emerge to use the data vehicles generate. Telematics is an example of how data generated through vehicle use, enables insurers to develop more accurate risk profiles and adequate premiums. Having access to vehicle data provides those who hold the data with a competitive advantage which in addition to increased concerns over privacy, have led to
initiatives to control vehicle data access. The European Parliament has called upon the Commission to publish a legislative proposal that ensures a level playing field on access to in-vehicle data and resources, protecting consumer rights and promoting innovation and fair competition. To contribute to the discussion, this paper analyses the potential for vehicle manufacturers to control vehicle data through trade secret protection. Neither the Trade Secrets Directive nor the General Data Protection Regulation provides clear guidance on how to decide in cases of conflicting interests. As such this paper concludes by arguing that holders of trade secrets should allow access to data subjects to personal data, however they
may impose measures on data recipients to make sure their secrecy is kept.

Keywords: Trade secrets; Vehicle data; Telematics; GDPR; Data portability; Data access rights

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