Mercedes-Benz uses the eCall service and the location data of cars that this gathers to retrieve vehicles from drivers who do not pay their leases. Theoretically, the location service should be used only in case of accident.
Under European law, every car launched after March 2018 is equipped with the eCall system, which allows, among other things, the exact location of the car in the event of an accident, to allow a more prompt response from the emergency services. Theoretically, the localization system is activated only in the event of an accident and remains inactive for the rest of the time.
However, an investigation initiated by The Sun revealed that, at least in the UK, Mercedes-Benz uses the location service for drivers who do not pay the rates for leasing contracts.
In such a situation, Mercedes-Benz uses the location to recover its cars from debtors who do not voluntarily return the cars. A Mercedes-Benz spokesman confirmed this, but claims the practice is explicitly mentioned in the contracts signed by customers.
“This process is used in exceptional cases as a last resort, when customers do not pay or breach the contract and do not respond to the repeated request to return the cars. We want to emphasize that this does not mean that the location is constantly active,” a spokesman for the manufacturer said for the American television station CNN.
Privacy policies regarding user data, including location services, have generated numerous controversies since the entry into force of the European GDPR regulation.