Part three: Infotainment in the automotive industry


In part three of our 'IT meets Automotive' video series, partner Roelien van Neck talks about the legal implications of infotainment and multimedia in vehicles.

Topics covered include:

  • Navigating through multi-tiered supply structures
  • New regulatory challenges – application of telecommunication and media regulations
  • Opportunities for IT and media companies
  • Cybersecurity in vehicles

View part one:
Innovations in emobility

View part two:
Big Data in the Automotive Industry

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Roelien van Neck


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Infotainment in the automotive industry
Roelien van Neck

Infotainment is really a broadening of any kind of entertainment or information that you can receive in to your car. Nowadays you can have DVDs played in your car, receive internet signals and basically have any kind of media offering.

How you’re going to put this together when you are an OEM manufacturer is that you really need to take a holistic approach, because there are so many parties involved in getting a particular multi-media or infotainment type of use up and running in a car.

Normally, if there is any kind of data sharing that needs to be clearly laid down in contracts, but more importantly, and this is a data protection issue, it needs to be clear who is in charge of those data, who is what we call the data controller, who’s in the end responsible for all of this?

One of the interesting things, something that particularly OEM manufacturers need to be aware of, is that by putting certain solutions in to their vehicles they may become subject to certain regulatory issues in the field of, for instance, telecoms regulations or media regulations and that’s something that traditionally they are not very familiar with. But now, because of the technology that they are putting in to their cars they may very well basically become a telecoms player or a media player.

What it means in practice is that when we go out and advise our clients we need to sit down with them and our clients really have to do their home work and their fact finding in order to basically review the type of technology that they have in their vehicles or that they want to use in their vehicles.

The opportunity for media companies and also IT companies is that if this technology is all put in vehicles they actually have a totally new outlet, as it were, for their content, for their products. It will open up a new public.

One of the issues when you look at this type of offering and how this all comes together is that you have, on the one hand, very big OEM suppliers that would like to have particular technology in their car and, on the other hand, you have highly specialised, very skilled IT suppliers. The automotive sector and media sector and IT sector are really different roads. There’s also really a challenge to bring those two cultures together and I think that there’s also a challenge for us as lawyers to bring those two together.

When you look at the type of contracting that needs to be done there is a much larger supply chain there all of those parties come together. Everyone needs to rework where they are within the supply chain.

With any kind of technology there’s always a certain risk that third parties who should not have access to certain systems will access those systems. Because those cars are really becoming almost driving computers those cars, like ordinary computers, are subject to hacking, to security breaches. When we’re looking at just infotainment the actual risk that may materialise may not be so big, it might be that the infotainment is no longer available. But if those hackers also have access to technologies that actually affect the driving then we are looking at something much more serious and perhaps sinister because it may mean that they can affect the actual driving as it going on.

We do have a dedicated cyber security group within Bird & Bird and they can really help all of the parties involved in minimising risks. You can never really prevent it, because it’s like a technological warfare, race, but you can minimise the risks and if there is a breach or an unauthorised access there are ways of limiting the damage and taking the necessary steps to prevent further damage being done.


This document is a transcript of an edited video recorded in October 2013.