Your faithful four-wheeled companion - the one that costs you an arm and a leg but you still love it - has the data-gathering potential to make your life a Kafkaesque nightmare.

Researchers have found that a car's computer network can identify a driver just by the way they operate the vehicle. Even something as simple as the brake pedal can pinpoint who's behind the wheel, according to a report published in Wired.

A study crafted by researchers at the University of Washington and the University of California at San Diego will be presented at a tech symposium in Germany this July. In it, they analyzed data from vehicles driven by test subjects, probing their computer systems (known as the CAN bus) for clues.

Feedback from the brake pedal alone allowed the team to identify a specific driver out of a 15-person test pool with 90 percent accuracy. Checking other driver inputs over a longer period of time (90 minutes) brought that figure up to 100 percent.

"With very limited amounts of driving data we can enable very powerful and accurate inferences about the driver's identity," Miro Enev, a former University of Washington researcher, told the publication.

Forget about the government peering through your blinds at night, and never mind your cell phone or cable provider. Your car is keeping tabs on you.

Now that a vehicle can identify its driver, inevitable fears arise about that faithful companion ratting you out to the authorities. Changes in the way a driver pilots his or her vehicle can point to a medical condition, an impaired state, even the wrong person behind the wheel of a rental. For now, though, the evidence stays tucked away in the vehicle's data bank.

That might not be the case for very long. Some insurance companies already allow drivers to offer up their car's data in exchange for lower rates, while other drivers enjoy uploading their data to the cloud via devices that plug in to the CAN bus.

That data can then be seen by third parties.

If vehicles become able to upload their own data to the Internet, the privacy risk grows. How free are you willing to be with your car's data?

Because of the risk, security measures should be built into any gadget designed to measure a single function, such a gas mileage, Enev said.

This post originally appeared at The Truth About Cars