March 23, 2019

Advocacy Reminder: Canadian Innovation Leadership or Not in the Automotive Sector: Should Just the Automakers Control Access To Data from Autonomous Vehicles?

Should AutoMakers Be in Control of Data from Our Cars?

“Data is to this century what oil was to the last one: a driver of growth and change. Flows of data have created new infrastructure, new businesses, new monopolies, new politics and – crucially – new economics. Digital information is unlike any previous resource; it is extracted, refined, valued, bought and sold in different ways. It changes the rules for markets and it demands new approaches from regulators. Many a battle will be fought over who should own, and benefit from, data.” (Fuel of the Future, The Economist, May 6, 2017)

Toronto, ON…CATAAlliance (, Canada’s One Voice for Innovation Lobby Group is calling for open ownership rights to vehicle data and open data policies in general in order to afford all organizations an equal opportunity to create economic wealth.

CATA is engaging its new grassroots 1,200 member Advocates-for-Change Caucus to help advance this recommendation to all political parties.

The issue is already on the regulatory radar in Europe and the United States. The European Commission which has been consulting with industry and supporting an independent impact study and analysis to support future Directives. The U.S. Senate has also amended the U.S. Automated Vehicles START Act to establish the HAV Date Advisory Committee to bring all affected parties together to examine issues such as data access and use, privacy and ownership involving autonomous vehicles and provide recommendations to the government.

Offering a perspective on open data is CATA CEO, John Reid, who said, “ If, as some claim, data will drive the 21st economy in the same way oil and gas has driven the economy of the 20th century, then who controls the access to that data will have a huge impact on who will reap the benefits of that economy. One of the choke points of the new economy will be how that data will be accessed and shared by vehicles.”

He added, “ Is it in Canada’s national interest that this control resides outside the country with auto makers who have already indicated they will take the most restrictive view about how individuals and fleet vehicle owners can access that data. This has the potential to impact successful technology companies in Canada who already sell into this space or potential new companies that might aspire to create new products and economic wealth.”

Is a Walled Garden Approach Best for Canadian Innovation Leadership?

Both the European and North American automobile producers are promoting data access via an Extended Vehicle Concept.

The manufacturer would have control of the data in the vehicles and would extract it and upload it to their data servers or data servers controlled by third parties who have reached a business agreement with them. While nominally owners would continue to ‘own’ the data, they would have to pay a fee directly or indirectly to the auto manufacturer to access that data.  The OEMs would determine the formats in which they could access that data; what data available to access; the quality of that data; and the transparency of that data.

Effectively, the manufacturers want to create a “walled garden” around vehicle data where they determine who, what, where, when and how data is accessed and they monetize access to that data – even when they do not own the vehicle.

The auto manufacturers do not lack natural competitive advantages in the emerging automated vehicles landscape. They have strong brands; they have manufacturing expertise; they have dealer networks; they have the traditional auto part and new technology suppliers who are prepared to be contractually bound to them. The public policy question is whether they should be allowed to tilt the playing field in their favour when it comes to data?

The rental car industry is one of the potentially affected party – auto dealers, aftermarket parts manufacturers; distributors and retailers; taxi and truck fleet operators; fleet management companies; the P & C (Property & Casualty) insurance industry; municipalities/transit agencies and consumer groups concerned about privacy – they all have an interest in this matter.

A Path Forward

Serving as a path forward for Canadian Policy Makers, both the European Union and U.S. have recognized that:

  •          This is an important issue;
  •          It should be approached as a set of stand-alone issue or set of issues;
  •          Many parties have a stake in this; not just the automobile manufacturers;
  •          There are issues of fair market access that need to be addressed;
  •          A non-decision by Government is effectively a decision;
  •          The government must educate itself, consult widely, and provide some guidance.

Why It Matters!

Read: Submission to Canadian Senate Standing Committee on Transport & Communication (Enterprise Holdings)
The Future Mobility Ecosystem (Draft Principles and Data Usage Statement)

Reid concluded, “This is an issue that matters to innovative Canadian tech companies who want to play in this very large vertical market. Whoever has control of the data pipeline on automated vehicles will have control of a key part of the 21st-century data economy, reaping the rewards of a domestic and global marketplace.”

Watch a 3 minute video on the auto data, including EEC & US perspectives

Tomi Gerber, EVP, Gov’t & Public Affairs, Enterprise Holdings

Join us for a 4 minutes video of insights into the value and importance of Open Access to Data

Neil Cawse, CEO, Geotab

actnownowMobilization & Engagement
Executives interest in collaborating with CATAAlliance to mobilize support for the Open Data Access Campaign Advocacy, should contact CATA CEO John Reid at

Please socialize this communique to your network of social and business contacts, including media.

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The Canadian Advanced Technology Alliance (CATAAlliance), Canada’s One Voice for Innovation Lobby Group and ‘political party’ for Canada’s tech industry, crowdsources ideas and guidance from thousands of opt in members in moderated social networks in Canada and key global markets. Supported by evidence-based research, CATAAlliance then mobilizes the community behind public policy recommendations designed to boost Canada’s innovation and competitiveness success.

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Contact: CATA at at, tel: 613-699-8209, website:, tags: Innovation, Leadership, Entrepreneurship, Advocacy