Mercedes-Benz is using location-tracking tech to find and repossess cars in the United Kingdom, the company confirmed in response to a report published last night by the Sun.
Mercedes-Benz said this practice “is used in a few exceptional cases and only as a last resort.” However, the policy has drawn criticism from U.K.-based privacy advocates Liberty and Privacy International. “While what Mercedes are doing is technically legal, it belies a deeper problem that motorists are under ever increasing levels of surveillance,” said Privacy International tech lead Christopher Weatherhead in a statement published by CNN Business.
A Mercedes-Benz spokesperson said the company tracks financed cars “when customers default or breach their finance agreement and repeatedly fail requests to return their vehicle.” The luxury car maker then shares that location information with “third-party bailiffs and recovery firms,” according to the Sun.
It is not clear how many times Mercedes-Benz or its owner, Daimler, has tracked the location of cars for repossession, nor is it clear whether this practice occurs outside the U.K. We also don’t know who, specifically, can access this data—which, a Liberty employee noted, may be at risk of being “exploited or hacked.”
Mercedes-Benz told the Sun and CNN that it warns customers of this policy in its contract “in bold print, just above the customer’s signature.” The company also noted that its policy “does not mean constant tracking.”
Reached for comment, the company sent a statement reiterating what it told CNN.