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 OnStars 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.