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Autel: Scan tool terms revamped, data concerns ‘callout’ appreciated

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Collision Repair | Legal
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During the Collision Industry Conference (CIC) meeting last week, Autel Technology Corp. made a brief announcement from the open mic, that the company has released a new end-user license agreement (EULA) amid data privacy concerns.

Concerns with “far-ranging” data collection were brought up at in April at CIC’s meeting and the Society of Collision Repair Specialists (SCRS) open board meeting. The document stated that a broad array of customer data could be collected, shared, and governed by the People’s Republic of China.

It specified that using the tool gave consent for collection, processing, storage, and data transfer by Autel, including:

    • “Vehicle registration, including but not limited to name and address;
    • “Technical data and related information, including but not limited to vehicle, system and application, and peripherals; and
    • “Vehicle data obtained from a customer’s vehicle, including but not limited to make, model, year of manufacture, equipment features, vehicle identification data, repair, maintenance and wear related data generated during use/repair, and odometer reading.”

The EULA also says that “Your use of an Autel device or download of the Software update will be deemed as Your acceptance of the constraints mentioned hereunder. …Autel will not collect, process or use any other personal information.”

Autel North America Senior Product and Operations Manager Paul Marshall told Repairer Driven News on Thursday that the previous agreement referred to as a EULA wasn’t actually a EULA.

“It was something thrown together many years ago,” he said. “Since our tools have always been kind of standalone, we’ve never had to worry about data because we didn’t really get any data from the tools. It was never an issue. And then when we started doing more data-oriented projects like Remote Expert, things like that, we were like, ‘Yeah, it’s time. We need to go through all our legal documents.”

Service agreements and other legal documents are still being reviewed. And now that Autel is expanding, Marshall said they want to ensure that there’s continued trust with their end users.

Any updates made to Autel scan tools, which Marshall said happen frequently, will ask users to read and agree to the new EULA.

Marshall noted that the only data Autel keeps from its scan tools are vehicle data, such as make and model and scan data. Basic account data is also stored but are kept on U.S. servers. Payment data isn’t saved, Marshall said.

He added that while the “call out” was appreciated and it lit a fire toward making changes, updates to the agreement were already underway at Autel headquarters in New York and Shenzhen.

Access to the agreement was also an issue brought before the industry in April. SCRS Executive Director Aaron Schulenburg said it couldn’t be found on Autel’s website and when it was agreed to, there was no option to save or receive a copy. RDN also couldn’t find the document anywhere online. Inaccessibility was an oversight, according to Marshall.

“It was not malicious at all,” Marshall said. “…Sometimes you get a reputation that is unwarranted but sometimes you have to schlep it along with you. We understand why it was pointed out and we appreciate it. Sometimes it gets a little too emphasized on where our headquarters is located and it hurts sometimes.”

Now, a new agreement, which Marshall says is the EULA, is available online at It states:

“Certain data is recorded, archived, analyzed and used to create user statistics, including but not limited to, technical data and related information about the vehicles, including make, model, year of manufacture, equipment features, vehicle identification data, repair, maintenance and wear related data generated during the use and repair and odometer readings, and system and application software and peripherals.

“AUTEL may data collected using the Licensed Software and Product with (a) AUTEL’s affiliated entities, (b) service providers, vendors, consultants and other partners performing work on AUTEL’s behalf, (c) third party business partners who YOU have authorized to share data with and (d) relevant authorities.

“Your privacy is very important to AUTEL and AUTEL will not reveal Your personal data to third parties except when expressly authorized by You to do so or in special circumstances. AUTEL may be under a duty to disclose or share Your personal data in order to comply with a legal obligation, or in order to protect AUTEL’s rights and those of other users and third parties. This includes exchanging information with other companies and organizations for the purposes of fraud protection and credit risk reduction. In addition, AUTEL reserves the right to collect, store and use anonymous data about You. For further information concerning AUTEL’s use of Your personal data, please refer to the AUTEL Privacy Policy.”

Specific data collected may include mobile device unique identity or other device identifiers and settings, carrier, operating system, localization information, date and time spent on the product, statistics, feature usage, advertising purchase history, and other similar information, according to the EULA. It also states that third party privacy policies are provided at Autel’s best efforts along with links to opt-out.

The EULA, unlike the prior agreement, specifies that laws governing the EULA terms and any disputes arising from them vary by location. In the Americas, U.S. and New York state laws govern the EULA. In all other countries, laws set forth by the People’s Republic of China govern the EULA.

“We’re a global company,” Marshall said. “We just so happen to be based out of Shenzhen in China. That’s the hot topic right now and sometimes that warrants more conversation on data security with foreign powers. Data security, and this is for all international businesses and domestically within the industry, really needs to be addressed.

“I believe that when it comes to data integrity, we’re definitely in the top tier, even though people’s perception is quite different… our primary interest is selling more tools and servicing our customers to make sure that the tools exceed expectations and not getting into the data business. Opposed to other companies where data is monetized and shared within and licensed out within companies, that is something that we’ve never have and never will be be interested in.”

Most of the concern, he added, came from collision repair MSOs that move data back and forth to each other remotely and had the perception that the data might be going overseas. Autel is working to reassure their customers that isn’t the case, including its partner, Repairify, Marshall said.


Featured image: Autel logo provided by Autel 

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