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Data protection article

In 2007, 28 January was declared European Data Protection Day by the Council of Europe in order to make citizens aware of the issue of data protection, also through actions by organisations and institutions in charge of data protection.

This year, we want to mark the day the other way round: We, as citizens and employees of CARFAX, draw the attention of the German authorities to the fact that rigid data protection is not always the right solution.

The police estimate that the speedometer reading of every third used car sold in Germany has been manipulated. We are talking about more than 2.3 million vehicles in 2020 alone. Through such manipulation, fraudsters achieve an average sales price that is around 3,000 euros higher. The damage caused by speedometer manipulation alone amounts to almost seven billion euros. EVERY YEAR.
7,000,000,000 good reasons to do something.

"What does this have to do with data protection?", you are probably asking yourself. Quite a lot! While providers such as CARFAX have been able to establish EU-wide DSGVO-compliant databases for the creation of used car histories, pushing tachomanipulation to historic lows in countries such as Sweden and the Netherlands, §38ff as well as §45 of the German Road Traffic Act currently make the creation of used car histories impossible in this country. These paragraphs declare the vehicle identification number, FIN for short, to be personal data. Although CARFAX & Co. cannot draw any conclusions about the owner from this number, the VIN is treated as such by law.

The less information the higher the risk

The consequence is that buyers - commercial as well as private - have no chance to obtain independent information about a vehicle before buying a used car. They have to blindly rely on the information provided by the sellers. The result: millions of buyers lose thousands of euros every year and drive vehicles that in many cases even represent a safety risk for them.

Yet a solution is so close at hand. CARFAX demands that the vehicle identification number is no longer classified as personal data. This would enable providers such as CARFAX and others to access existing data from the Kraftfahrtbundesamt (Federal Motor Transport Authority), the registration authorities and other organisations and compile it into clear, independent vehicle histories. Buyers would get an insight into the history of a vehicle before they buy it and, if the data is available, they would see at a glance whether the seller's mileage information is logical or whether the vehicle has already had to deal with other problems in the past.

Revision of the Road Traffic Act is needed NOW

We demand that sections §38ff and 45$ are revised in the interest of consumers. Let us not be misunderstood: Data protection is among the most important achievements to protect the rights and privacy of individuals. But if data protection does not protect individuals from fraudsters, then the system is benefiting the wrong people. It is imperative that this be changed.

At CARFAX, we have consistently offered our help and expertise to those responsible over the years and will continue to do so. One thing is certain: something must change so that German car buyers receive the same protection as their counterparts in Poland, Sweden, Spain, Slovenia and the Netherlands and do not suffer financial shipwreck.
7,000,000,000 good reasons to do something.