OnStar to Track Speed, Location of Cars, Even After Users Opt Out

2011-09-21T18:22:24
ID THREATPOST:75F6EF1531100BC502C92AC45D08A44B
Type threatpost
Reporter Chris Brook
Modified 2013-04-17T16:33:44

Description

OnStarCars with OnStar’s built-in technology will begin having their where-abouts monitored in December, even if their owners opt-out of the service, according to a new privacy statement issued by the vehicle navigation and emergency notification service this week.

The document, available here in .PDF form, was sent out on Monday to alert the company’s six million plus subscriber base, leading to howls of protest from OnStar customers, who accuse parent GM of selling their private data to its partners.

“Unless the Data Connection in your Vehicle is deactivated, information about your Vehicle may continue to be collected even if you do not have a Plan,” reads one section of the statement.

The company claims to reserve the right to share location information with law enforcement, public safety officials, credit card processors and other third parties. The move opens a litany of privacy questions revolving around how this information will be disseminated.

OnStar, a subsidiary of General Motors, has long collected metrics about its users’ car: How often the vehicle is refueled, tire pressure, and odometer and oil readings. This type of data is constantly being gathered and factored into the service’s surveillance but a new, additional bullet point in the privacy statement broadens OnStar’s data extraction. OnStar claims they can now monitor your car’s speed and GPS location “for any purpose, at any time” to share on an “anonymized basis.”

While OnStar doesn’t currently sell its customers’ information, the company reserves that right, according to a Wired interview with OnStar company spokesman Adam Denison.

Several companies have received their fair share of criticism as of late when it comes to the tracking of their customers. Apple and Google gained notoriety early this summer and were even called upon to testify at a hearing regarding smart phone tracking while Mozilla, Google and Microsoft each added a “do not track” mechanism to their browsers over the last few months.

OnStar is encouraging subscribers concerned with its revamped Terms and Conditions to join in a conversation on Twitter with the company’s manager, Adam Denison and its Vice President of Public Relations, Vijay Iyer, tomorrow at noon EST.