Ford CEO: Our ‘customers own their data’

Ford CEO: Customers own their data, not Ford

Ford CEO Mark Fields says the data being collected by automakers about their customers’ driving belongs to those customers.

Fields told CNNMoney on Monday that Ford (F) is closely watching the court fight between Apple and the FBI over whether law enforcement should be granted access to data on a terrorist’s iPhone.

“Our view as a company is pretty straightforward. Customers own their data. We don’t own their data,” Fields told Nina dos Santos on “CNNMoney View.” “And we want to be trusted stewards of that.”

Ford’s comment underline the potential breadth of the encryption debate. Automakers are trying to make their cars more connected in response to demands from car buyers.

Fields stopped short of taking a side in the Apple-FBI dispute. Some leading tech companies, including Android smartphone maker Google (GOOG), are siding with Apple (AAPL, Tech30).

Related: FBI director says Apple encryption demand is ‘about victims’

Ford was at the center of its own privacy controversy two years ago when Ford executive Jim Farley suggested that Ford had data that could show traffic violations by drivers of its cars.

“We know everyone who breaks the law; we know when you’re doing it,” he said in 2014. He and the company eventually backed away from the statement, saying Ford does not have data showing driving activity.

Fields is appeared Monday at Mobil World Congress and at CES earlier this year — two big tech expos — to hype Ford’s new connectivity offering, Sync 3.

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