Fleets urged to prepare for new data protection laws
17 August 2017
Author: Debbie Wood
The current Data Protection Act (DPA) will be replaced in May 2018 by the European General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), a new framework that aims to create greater clarity around personal data and bring regulations up to date with today's connected car technology.
Harsher penalties will also come into play for companies that do not comply. The biggest challenge fleets will face is around driver consent and making sure that detailed records are kept up to date because, under new laws, fleet managers will be considered a processor and one of the parties responsible for ensuring data protection is followed.
According to Ashley Winton, partner at legal firm Paul Hastings (Europe) LLP, when it comes to personal data, it's the drivers and passengers that have that right, and companies failing to comply with the laws could face fines worth 4% of their annual turnover.
"The definition of personal data is extremely broad; even if you cannot identify someone from the data itself, if you could connect it with a second data set, correlate and make a connection, then it's personal data. Companies need an audit trail around the notices and consents for which they are asking," Winton says.
Although the new GDPR comes into effect during Brexit, a version close to if not the same as this is still expected to become UK law and, according to Winton, having the correct permissions available and paperwork to ensure drivers agree to share whatever data is captured is going to be key.
The British Vehicle Rental and Leasing Association (BVRLA) is urging leasing companies and fleets to get organised, and believes more guidance is needed if fleets are going to have hope of being compliant by the time these new laws come into force.
"There's a lot of debate and discussion around what this sector needs to be doing, and there's a lack of guidance; because of this 4% turnover penalty lurking over people's heads, people want to get it right," says Jay Parmar, director of policy and membership at BVRLA.
"We need to think about IT systems and people resources, and can't underestimate the importance of knowing which data is flowing through and your suppliers are capturing on your behalf now that fleet managers will be deemed a processor," Parmar continues.
Connected data was hot on the agenda at last month's BVRLA Fleet Technology Congress, where recent results from the organisation's annual survey revealed divided opinions between manufacturers and leasing companies over ownership of data.
The survey revealed that just 50% of respondents from the fleet sector felt that they understood what their responsibilities were in terms of data and that their companies had a data strategy in place to ensure compliance.
"The environment we're operating in with data involves several different users, and I think the clear message from members and fleet operators is that everybody that comes into contact with that data has a collective responsibility to make sure data protection is followed," states BVRLA chief executive Gerry Keaney.
There were nearly 300 responses to the 2016 survey, with BVRLA members and fleet managers sharing their views on data access, control, protection, sharing and cost. In a separate questionnaire, drivers were asked about their attitudes on sharing
Interestingly, 47% of respondents were not aware that manufacturers were collecting data at all and almost 50% were not happy with them potentially making this data available to their operators.
"Connected vehicle data is rapidly becoming the new currency in the fleet sector and will drive many business models in the future," says Keaney.
According to the results, drivers are happy to share data when it helps them - for example, when predicting the reliability of their vehicle, in emergency situations or in a breakdown - but were decidedly less so when the data concentrates on their performance or driving behaviours, and on the location of the vehicle and how the vehicle is performing.
"This is a new, unregulated environment, which explains much of the uncertainty and concern about the roles and responsibilities played by different fleet sector participants," Keaney concludes. "The BVRLA will play a lead role in helping the fleet sector work with government and the wider automotive supply chain to ensure that all parties share data in an open, secure and fair way."