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Government: Safety of V2V Outweighs Security, Privacy Risk

After months evaluating the safety and security of vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) communications technology, the U.S. government announced that it will begin taking steps to enable the technology for light vehicles.

The Department of Transportation is going forward with vehicle-to-vehicle communications.

In a statement Monday, U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said that V2V technology represents the next generation of auto safety improvements – a modern analogue to seat belts and air bags.

“By helping drivers avoid crashes, this technology will play a key role in improving the way people get where they need to go while ensuring that the U.S. remains the leader in the global automotive industry.”

Vehicle-to-Vehicle Communications comprises wireless technology that allows automobiles to exchange information with each other in realtime, as well as with roadside or road-based devices. V2V systems communicate in the 5.9 GHz band and can also use common WiFi signals to communicate.

V2V communications allow a vehicle to sense and respond to threats and road hazards, including obstacles or other vehicles. Depending on the on-board systems, V2V technology could notify the driver of a risk using advisories or audio and visual warnings. Alternatively, on-board systems might take pre-emptive actions to avoid a crash. V2V communications might leverage other technologies, such as GPS, as well as on-board sensors to determine a vehicle’s position in space, its speed, acceleration and so on, according to the Department of Transportation.

The technology is considered an integral part of the “Intelligent Transportation Systems” (or ITS) a DoT program to implement technologies that will increase trafficl flow, improve travel times and reliability and optimize the capacity of the U.S. transportation network.

In giving the green light to V2V, DoT sought to put concerns about the security and privacy of V2V communications to rest.

“V2V technology does not involve exchanging or recording personal information or tracking vehicle movements,” the Department said in a published statement. “The information sent between vehicles does not identify those vehicles, but merely contains basic safety data. In fact, the system as contemplated contains several layers of security and privacy protection to ensure that vehicles can rely on messages sent from other vehicles.”

[For more on V2V communications, read “Identity Management’s Next Frontier: The Interstate“]

While there is general agreement on the benefits of V2V technology, there is also concern that the communications sent between vehicles could be intercepted, leading to privacy or security issues with connected vehicles.

The Government Accountability Office issued a report in November calling on the DoT and automakers to agree on a technical- and management framework that will govern and secure V2V communications. In August 2012, DoT conducted a model deployment of V2V technology involving 3,000 cars in Ann Arbor, Mich.Testing indicated that the interoperability of V2V technology among products from different vehicle manufacturers and suppliers has worked in real-world environments.


Another report, GAO-14-81, GAO warns that automakers are failing to adequately inform car owners of the ways in which data collected by in-car apps and navigations systems is being shared with third parties.

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