TORONTO – A Canadian insurance company has developed a mobile app that purports to evaluate a user’s driving behaviour and offer discounts on their premiums if their skills are up to snuff.
But at least one privacy lawyer is urging caution when downloading the Ajusto app developed by Desjardins Insurance.
Desjardins says iPhone and Android users can download Ajusto for free to have it start scoring driving performance.
The company says Ajusto’s score is calculated by monitoring a driver’s speed, smoothness and travel distance, as well as logging what time of day the user is most often on the road.
Privacy lawyer David Young says drivers shouldn’t start using the app before understanding what they may be getting into.
He says users should be very clear on what purpose their personal information will be used for, as well as how Desjardins plans to keep it secure and for how long.
Young adds that Ajusto’s developers could be doing more to make sure customers are well informed when they sign up.
He says a review of Desjardins’ own privacy policies suggests that the company is in compliance with federal regulations on app use, but he believes users should look at the bigger picture when allowing mobile devices to monitor behaviour as personal as driving patterns and travel times and locations.
“Desjardins is not going to use this data except for very specific purposes, but if somebody else gains access to it, what are the implications of that?” Young said in a telephone interview. “The more data there is, the more risk there is.”
A description of the app on the Ajusto website states that users will never be financially penalized for a low driving score and could save up to 25 per cent on their insurance premiums if they perform well.
Desjardins said the information obtained from the Ajusto program “can never be used” to penalize clients, cancel an insurance policy, refuse a renewal or increase a premium.
“We only use the data for calculating the discount at renewal for that specific driver/customer. We don’t collect it for any other purpose nor do we share it with any third parties,” Denis Cote, the company’s vice-president of offer management said in an email to The Canadian Press.
“And due to the strict regulations here in Ontario and Quebec, we have implemented all the safety checks and balances to ensure that the data is secure.”
Young said Desjardins should be doing more to highlight the potential risks associated with Ajusto.
Making such information available up front would bring the company in line with advice that some of Canada’s privacy commissioners offered to app marketplaces last December.
Federal watchdog Daniel Therrien, as well as his counterparts in Alberta and British Columbia, were among 23 privacy commissioners around the world who signed an open letter calling for entities such as the Apple App Store and Google Play to display privacy details of their merchandise more prominently.