Australia's National Transport Committee says privacy needs to be high on the list of priorities when autonomous vehicles roll around.
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Australia needs to make privacy a priority when it comes to autonomous vehicles, according to the latest National Transport Committee (NTC) latest report into self-driving cars.

Self-driving cars are reliant on huge swathes of data to operate, constantly communicating with other vehicles, road infrastructure, and the 'cloud' to navigate their way through the world.

Along with information about the car's inputs, automated cars are expected to gather data about everything from a user's location to their commuting habits, entertainment choices, and even potentially their biometric information.

How that data is protected from nefarious actors, and with whom carmakers share it, is one of the critical questions surrounding the rollout of autonomous vehicles, sometimes known as 'cooperative intelligent transport systems' (C-ITS).

"There is also potential for government access to C-ITS to improve decision-making and deliver benefits to the public, but this access needs to be balanced with sufficient privacy protections," said Marcus Burke, executive leader of future technologies at the NTC.

"These are important issues that need to be addressed to support the safe deployment of automated vehicles in Australia."

Previous research from the NTC has called for some information from self-driving vehicles to be shared with the Government when they roll out, as they'll need access to automated vehicle "information for purposes including the safety regulation of automated vehicles, optimising road networks and enforcing road laws".

But there will also be information that, according to the NTC, will need to be kept private – necessitating reform of our current data privacy laws to add "broad principles on limiting government collection, use and disclosure of automated vehicle information".

Along with its calls surrounding data privacy, the NTC highlighted the need for a national insurance framework surrounding automated vehicles.

"There is a need to provide access to compensation for injuries caused by an automated driving system, while ensuring that responsible parties remain liable. This will provide certainty to industry and the public," Burke said.