Are your phone apps collecting data on how you brake or speed?

Data about drivers’ habits are being downloaded from certain smartphone apps — sometimes without the driver’s knowledge or consent — and forwarded to auto insurers as a device to set rates. According to a recent report in The New York Times — which in March reported that data agency LexisNexis sold similar data from internet-connected cars to General Motors — a number of popular apps, including Life360, MyRadar and Gas Buddy are providing user data to an Allstate-owned company, Arity.

Those apps and others employ telematics to relay sensor and motion data that are transmitted by smartphones, according to the report. That information, the paper says, is crunched by Arity to formulate a “driving score” that measures behavior behind the wheel, such as distracted driving, speeding and sudden braking. Insurance companies buy the results, and experts say most people are unaware that they’re being tracked this way.

Those firms that collect the data say that consumers consent to have this information shared, and that they can opt-out of the process if they choose to, perhaps when they find they had consented initially without realizing it.

On GasBuddy, for instance, users can turn on a feature that rates the fuel efficiency of their drives, a feature “powered by Arity.” The company says users “agree to Arity’s privacy statement before they opt in to the Drives function.”

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