OnStar Privacy Measures Questioned

OnStar
Recent changes to OnStar’s privacy agreements are being called into question by some U.S. senators, according to the Detroit News.

Last week, OnStar told its customers that it will continue to record some information about vehicle operations even if the service has been canceled, according to Wired. That information includes your speed, location, use of safety belts, use of vehicle features and more, according to OnStar’s terms and conditions.

OnStar collects this data through cell phone services and GPS satellites. Owners can opt out of this policy change, but they need to contact OnStar to do so.

Three Senate Democrats have questioned the data collection and are asking the Federal Trade Commission to investigate the new policy. “OnStar is attempting one of the most brazen invasions of privacy in recent memory," Sen. Charles Schumer told The Detroit News. Chris Coons and Al Franken are the other two Democratic senators who raised concerns about the policy.

OnStar does not continuously or routinely record location or vehicle speeds and does not eavesdrop on phone conversations, said Joanne Finnorn, vice president for OnStar Subscriber Services. Most of the information is “anonymized” — meaning the data can no longer be identified as belonging to you or your car — and is used for GM’s future product development or is sold or shared with third parties, such as public safety or traffic services, according to OnStar’s updated privacy statement.

By continuing to keep tabs even on defunct OnStar accounts, GM could alert vehicle occupants about severe weather or mandatory evacuations, Finnorn said. The open connection could also be used to provide owners information about warranty or recall updates.

Even though Finnorn says speed or location isn’t regularly recorded, OnStar’s own policy says it may collect information from your car on a periodic or regular basis if need be or required by law.

If you have any questions or wish to opt out of this data collection, you can call 888-4ONSTAR, hit the blue button on your OnStar-equipped vehicle and speak with an operator, or email OnStar at [email protected].

OnStar Privacy in Question (Detroit News)

By Colin Bird | September 26, 2011 | Comments (11)

Comments 

Amuro Ray

"Most of the information is “anonymized” — meaning the data can no longer be identified as belonging to you or your car."

Software Engineering 101 - as long as you (Onstar) don't reveal the encryption algorithm to anyone ELSE.

Skankzilla

"By continuing to keep tabs even on defunct OnStar accounts, GM could alert vehicle occupants about severe weather or mandatory evacuations, Finnorn said. The open connection could also be used to provide owners information about warranty or recall updates."

I don't believe that, or anything else. If I could, I'd disable it completely.

WTF

You can. Contact them and ask to have the connection disabled. There is no deception going on.

Amuro Ray

I guess that comprehension is not your strength, is it, WTF?

"OnStar told its customers that it will continue to record some information about vehicle operations even if the service has been canceled"

In short, the connection will remain open whether you've called to cancel Onstar or not.

Rockaby

AR,

OnStar collects this data through cell phone services and GPS satellites. Owners can opt out of this policy change, but they need to contact OnStar to do so.

Rockaby

AR,

"AR,

OnStar collects this data through cell phone services and GPS satellites. Owners can opt out of this policy change, but they need to contact OnStar to do so."

Amuro Ray

My apology for missing the bottom part. Duh!

Sorry WTF.


WTF

The following statement can be attributed to Joanne Finnorn, Vice President, Subscriber Services

"OnStar has and always will give our customers the choice in how we use their data. We've also been very open with our customers about changes in services and privacy terms.

"Under our new Terms and Conditions, when a customer cancels service, we have informed customers that OnStar will maintain a two-way connection to their vehicle unless they ask us not to do so. In the future, this connection may provide us with the capability to alert vehicle occupants about severe weather conditions such as tornado warnings or mandatory evacuations. Another benefit for keeping this connection "open" could be to provide vehicle owners with any updated warranty data or recall issues.

"Of course, if the customer requests us to turn off the two-way connection, we will do as we have always done, and that is honor customers' requests.

"Our guiding practices regarding sharing our subscribers' personal information have not changed. We are always very specific about with whom we share customers' personal information, and how they will use it. We have never sold any personally identifiable information to any third party.

"Keeping the two-way connection open will also allow OnStar to capture general vehicle information that could be used in future product development.

"We apologize for creating any confusion about our Terms and Conditions. We want to make sure we are as clear with our customers as possible, but it's apparent that we have failed to do this. As always, we are listening to our subscribers' feedback and we will continue to be open to their suggestions and concerns."

Rockaby

From what I can tell, it's the same idea as Facebook/Google remembering your search results and trying to cater to them.

Wow.

Seems to me that a better idea would be to allow customers to 'opt in' to this invasive policy if they like it, not put the onus on customers to 'opt out'...

Jerry

Looks like a CYA (Cover Your ASSetts). How long have they been doing this? This should have been an Opt IN, not Opt Out! Why ten days to stop doing it? I opted out and cancelled my OnStar account.

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