Staying safe in a digital automotive industry

Cyber security

There was a shift at the end of last month when the Royal Ascent was given to the Online Safety Act, reflecting a growing trend: legislators are turning their attention to digital technologies.

This focus is not just essential, it's welcomed by an electorate that's becoming more digitally savvy and concerned about online safety. As cars and various other areas of the motor industry undergo digital transformation, the Act’s provisions provide assurance and a potential roadmap for a safer, more connected future.

Confidence in digital-connected technologies

Todays’ cars are not mere vehicles; they're smart, connected devices. Infotainment systems, GPS navigation, telematics, and social media connectivity are now commonplace. Users expect, rightfully so, to interact with online platforms safely outside of their home or office. The Online Safety Act, with its clear guidelines on removing illegal content and increasing transparency, bolsters consumer confidence in these digital interactions.

Furthermore, telematics, which often involve real-time data sharing about locations and driving habits, can be perceived more positively. Knowing platforms are receiving legal mandates to protect data, consumers can trust the connected features in their cars more willingly and have develop expectation regarding their rights and protection within an online world.

Driving advancements safely

With digital technologies squarely in the sights of legislators, it opens the door for tech companies to innovate with a clearer understanding of what's expected regarding online safety. For the motor industry, this can accelerate the integration of cutting-edge, yet secure, digital features in vehicles. As tech companies prioritise safety due to stringent regulations, automotive manufacturers can collaborate with them more closely, bringing about safer and more advanced in-car systems.

Improved workforce engagement

The motor industry, with its global reach, relies heavily on online platforms for training, collaboration, and product launches. With the Act’s emphasis on adult users' control and robust measures against online abuse, a more protected online space emerges for employees. This environment can foster increased workforce participation, knowing that their digital interactions are influenced by clear regulations.

For international collaborations, often seen in a globally connected motor industry, the Act’s provisions for reporting problems swiftly can be a significant asset. Cultural misunderstandings or unintentional offences can be addressed promptly, ensuring smoother operations.

The attention legislators are giving to digital technologies, as seen with the Online Safety Act, is a testament to the evolving priorities of the electorate. A digitally informed public seeks clear boundaries and safety protocols in the online realm. Their concerns are being addressed, which augments trust in both legislative bodies and the tech platforms they regulate. For industries like automotive, which are at the crossroads of innovation and digital integration, this trust is invaluable.

While the Online Safety Act is primarily aimed at tech giants and social media platforms, its implications for the motor industry are significant. As digital technologies continue to reshape cars and industry operations, having legislative frameworks that prioritise user safety is crucial. As lawmakers and the electorate align on the importance of digital safety, industries can move forward confidently, embracing a digital future that's both innovative and secure.

Hayley Pells is Policy and Public Affairs Lead at the Institute of the Motor Industry