Navigation Apps for Cars and Driver Privacy: Speeding Down a Bumpy Road

No Navigation App – How Will I Get Where I Want to Go?

Who can imagine driving to a new restaurant or a job interview without the help of a navigation app? Or making the trek home in heavy traffic without knowing the least congested path? Navigation apps, whether built into cars, installed on smartphones, or provided by a dedicated device, have become a ubiquitous part of driving. I bet most iGen kids don’t even know what a American Thomas Guide or London’s A – Z are — both the gold standard for navigation in the pre-smartphone, pre-in-car navigation era.

Most Used Navigation Apps in Cars

In our recent survey of European consumers, 88% of respondents reported that they use a navigation app. Here is the breakdown of which ones get used most:

navi used most often while driving

Just 56% of Europeans Are Ready to Let Car Data Drive Their Navigation

Despite the fact that Europeans readily share their location data with smartphone apps to facilitate navigation, just over half say that they are interested in similar services driven by data from their cars. 

Would You Let Your Car Data Suggest a Quicker Route?

I would use my car data for a faster route and detecting traffic

Of those who are interested, only 61% say they are willing to share their personal data to get this feature in their cars. UK consumers and those under 35 are more willing to share.

I would share my personal data by country


I would share my personal data with a navigation app by age

Consumers Trust Smartphones With Their Data, but Not Navigation Apps

These percentages are surprisingly low, given that consumers are aware that they already share their data for navigation apps. Ninety-six percent of our respondents say that they think their smartphone captures some or all of their data, and 90% of those respondents know that location details are captured.  

Why is there comfort with the phone but less for the car? We don’t know, other than that:

  • Smartphones serve as personal assistants that go everywhere with their owners 
  • They contain apps that people now cannot live without, even though they didn’t know they needed them until they got them

Comfort Level With Location Sharing Is Low

We then asked consumers how comfortable they are with the fact that navigation apps have location data. Many say they are not comfortable with it; and about one-quarter say they are not comfortable at all. 

I am not comfortable sharing my data with a nav app

Key takeaway for OEMs and service providers in the mapping ecosystem:

Location data  is particularly sensitive information because it ties directly to a consumer’s home, place of work, and lifestyle choices. Companies in this ecosystem need to develop very clear privacy policies, apply the minimal viable dataset to each data collection use case, anonymize as much as possible, and aggressively protect this data.

Our Privacy Playbook for Connected Car Data, published late last year, contains a number of useful tips.

Architected for security and privacy by design, Otonomo’s platform complies with even the most stringent data privacy regulations including GDPR and CCPA, ensuring all parties are protected and companies remain compliant across multiple geographies.

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