Quite a curse for tech-savvy criminals, but does it end there?

Smartphone integration has become an integral part of vehicle technology. So much so that the majority of cars you can buy these days have Apple CarPlay and/or Android Auto capabilities, making the process more seamless for the users. Heck, even commercial vehicles like Mercedes and Scania trucks have Apple CarPlay as early as 2017. But smartphone integration isn’t limited to Apple CarPlay and Android Auto – technologies as simple as Bluetooth and USB connection have been around for quite some time.

But it seems like that painless integration and connection between your smartphone and your vehicle's head unit poses a threat in terms of privacy, The Intercept reports.

Gallery: Daimler Apple CarPlay for trucks

According to a contract shared with The Intercept, the US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) has paid $456,073 for five iVe "vehicle forensics kits" manufactured by Berla, an American company. The transaction was with Swedish data extraction firm MSAB.

What for, you ask? The Intercept stipulated that CBP believes that this set of hardware can aid in investigations. The high-tech extraction will not only get data related to the vehicle's use but also other (read: private) information from the mobile phones. The data, of course, was transferred into the infotainment system when smartphone pairing occurs.

In one cited incident in The Intercept report, a podcast guesting of Berla's founder Ben Lemere revealed that a Ford Explorer returned 70 phones that were connected to it.

"All of their call logs, their contacts, and their SMS history, as well as their music preferences, songs that were on their device, and some of their Facebook and Twitter things as well," Lemere added.

If you're a tech-savvy criminal, this should be a huge problem for you. But does it end there?

The Intercept report also cited that the capability to access private communication in a smartphone – without having to tap into the phone itself – can be a waypoint for warrantless searches on anyone that CBP pleases. Of note, CBP is an agency that has an exception from the Fourth Amendment.

Privacy has become a major concern these days as data integration between devices looms. To recall, several tech companies got and are getting in trouble due to data privacy (or the lack thereof). Is it time for automakers to get involved and take action?

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