E-Mobility as a Privacy Game Changer

Tilman Frosch

Electric vehicles (EVs) are becoming increasingly popular, especially since we need alternatives to cars powered by fuel. Electric mobility will be a privacy game changer. Even a quick charging cycle of an EV takes about 30 minutes for a full charge today, the current infrastructure of gas stations is no longer feasible. Instead a widely distributed network of charging stations is being built. Overly simplified, lithium-ion-based batteries have two states to be avoided: completely charged and completely discharged. Thus, customers are encouraged to plug-in where ever they park their car. This behavior is also supported by a feeling aptly named 'range anxiety'. The worrying side-effect of this change in how we refuel cars is that suddenly this process becomes observable: while today everyone can pay cash at a gas station and expect a reasonable amount of anonymity, charging of EVs changes the rules significantly and enables an observer to track where a user charges her car and thus allows for the creation of quite detailed movement profiles. The talk proposes a solution that protects the user's location privacy and is practical enough to be actually implemented.