U.S. Senators condemn OnStar's latest move

OnStar, for those who may not know, is a neat little service. The company is a General Motors subsidiary that provides communications, vehicle security, hands-free calling, navigation, and remote diagnostics, according to the OnStar website. The company announced in an email this month that it would start collecting data from subscribers even if they cancel their OnStar service. The company also now reserves the right to sell the aggregated and anonymized data to third parties. Apparently, OnStar is looking for ways to increase its revenue stream.

Some U.S. Senators are taking issue with this, according to Ars Technica. Senators Al Franken of Minnesota and Chris Coons of Delaware sent a letter directly to the company and warned that the actions appeared to "violate basic principles of privacy and fairness." Senator Chuck Schumer of New York stated in a letter to the FCC that OnStar's actions are one of the most brazen invasions of privacy in recent memory.

OnStar has responded to the complaints, however. In a interview with the New York Times, Vijay Iyer, an OnStar spokesman, stated that the customer has a choice. Under the new terms, cancelling subscribers must opt to kill the two-way link the vehicle has with OnStar. Otherwise, the connection remains active. In addition, it looks like OnStar has opened up a can of worms. Senator Al Franken has proposed legislation to protect sensitive information, like location.


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Ok...first of all...there is no such thing..NO SUCH THING...as..."anonymized data".

I can just see this response by OnStar to a consumer regarding quote "Anonymous Data".

"Well...we told them your make, model, year of the car, the VIN number, your driving habits, how often you use your car, where you go, how often you go there, if you smoke or not, what kind of insurance you have, general area of where you park your car at your home, what kind of music you listen to on the radio, how many tickets a cop gave you in a month, but...WE DIDN'T GIVE YOUR NAME."

It's almost like giving someone candy and telling them..."Don't worry...nobody will know I gave you candy." Except your dentist.

And from what OnStar is saying...just pull the plug on the 2-way communication...but I am doubting that will disable OnStar from still keeping track of your car.

Particularly amusing is that OnStar used to be only in GM vehicles. The same company that was majority owned by the US Government. Things may have changed.

Rooster69 said,
Just disconnect it.

I was going to say, just unplug it. I certainly would. There's no way in hell I would let a company whom I am not even paying, keep track of my location or vehicle status. This technically SHOULD be illegal.

Rooster69 said,
Just disconnect it.

If it's for anti-theft, chances are (if you actually find it) and you yank it out, your car won't start.

n_K said,

If it's for anti-theft, chances are (if you actually find it) and you yank it out, your car won't start.

The anti-theft has no effect on the car functionality. If active and you report it stolen, the vehicle is tracked via GPS location and given to the police.

By just disconnecting the antennae. you basically killed the system. Mine is located in the driver side rear tire well. Access it through the trunk, remove the side panel.

Stewart Gilligan Griffin said,
why don't we all just sell our info to comapnies before other companies can do it first?

Like in the movie Idiocracy, where they are all walking billbords for products they endorse.
-brought to you by Carls' Jr.

They should be sued for breach of public trust and trying to steal personal info. Any company that does that should be torn apart and the one(s) who thought of that idea should be shot.

cybertimber2008 said,
Is it just me or does the article end abruptly?

I'm not sure I know what you're talking about. This article seems to me that