Privacy Enrooted Car Systems - PECS


People's privacy control over the personal data that they generate and consume while they drive modern cars is extremely weak at present. There is historical as well as recent evidence that car brands harvest a variety of personal data from drivers and, arguably, full compliance of their processing with the European General Data Protection Regulation is questionable. PECS revolutionises modern car ecosystems for what concerns the processing of personal data. It does so by advancing, tailoring to the specific domain and, ultimately, combining together both soft and hard privacy measures.

The project raises drivers’ soft privacy through the PECS interface for static and dynamic control of personal data, so that drivers can decide what to share and with whom and when, as well as follow and control the flows of data at service run time by means of multy-sensory media techniques. Hard privacy thrives in the project through a combination of obfuscation techniques including Federated Analytics, Secure Multi Party Computation and Pseudonymisation, so that drivers are enabled to keep their personal data opaque to anyone from the outset. All developments proceed from the established academic laboratories of UNICT-UNIMORE, then are demonstrated in the operational environment of MASA-UNIMORE, reaching TRL7. The PECS results stem from the open-source, open-Internet approaches, hence bear huge technical, societal and industrial impacts, bringing Europe at the forefront of data protection, at least in the automotive domain. PECS also brings forward a whole new range of business opportunities such as various forms of software support for its technologies, and of renewed car services leveraging privacy-by-design-by-default.

Finally, PECS provides the necessary grounds favouring the inception of a new breed of services that would be naturally enrooted on drivers’ sensitive data such as sexual, religious and political orientations, e.g. apps for dating, praying and debate on political topics.


The PECS concept is to firmly enroot the technological systems of modern cars into the very bedrock of privacy by implementing a double approach: - The PECS Soft-Privacy technologies: Tailoring multisensory-media techniques to empower individuals to statically define their policies on the processing of their personal data, as well as to dynamically control, for the first time, the application of privacy policies at service run time. - The PECS Hard-Privacy technologies: Tailoring open-source products to provide individuals with the capability to obfuscate their personal data before sharing it with any entity, thus ensuring privacy protection right from the outset. While the PECS concept itself is domain independent hence could be applied to any domain, this project will reach a tangible demonstration within the specific application domain of modern cars, pursuant to the motivation outlined above.

The main aim of PECS is reached through 4 objectives:

1 - Privacy Gap-Analysis of Top-Ten Car Manufacturers in Europe

This assessment involves scrutinising policies and official documentation for GDPR compliance.

2 - Prototyping and Demonstrating PECS multisensory-media Car Interface (PECSi)

This objective develops PECSi using cutting-edge multisensory-media techniques to empower drivers.

3 - Prototyping and Demonstrating PECS Obfuscation Technologies (PECSo)

This objective involves the development of PECSo, which combines relevant techniques, in particular Federated Analytics, Secure Multi-Party Computation, and Pseudonymisation to obfuscate personal data.

4 - Validation of PECSi and PECSo via Crowd-Sourcing

This objective involves gathering feedback and validating the usability and efficacy of the two prototypes through crowdsourcing with at least 1000 respondents worldwide.


Who is working on it?

Giampaolo Bella

Giampaolo Bella

Project Coordinator and UNICT Site Leader

Mirco Marchetti

Mirco Marchetti

UNIMORE Site Leader

Salvatore Riccobene

Salvatore Riccobene

UNICT Site Leader

Luca Ferretti

Professor @UNIMORE

Sergio Esposito

Doctor Of Philosophy @RHUL

Daniele Francesco Santamaria

Researcher @UNICT

Giovanni Zoccoli

Researcher @UNIMORE

Cristian Daniele

3rd Year PhD Student @RU.NL

Marcello Maugeri

3rd Year PhD Student @UNICT

Salvatore Riccobene

Mario Raciti

2nd Year PhD Student @IMT Lucca - UNICT

Salvatore Riccobene

Gianpietro Castiglione

2nd Year PhD Student @UNICT