By on September 27, 2011

Under attack from privacy advocates and US Senators, Onstar will be dropping plans to automatically track vehicles that are not subscribed to its service, and will make post-cancellation tracking an opt-in option, rather than opt-out. A GM statement reads:

DETROIT – OnStar announced today it is reversing its proposed Terms and Conditions policy changes and will not keep a data connection to customers’ vehicles after the OnStar service is canceled.

OnStar recently sent e-mails to customers telling them that effective Dec. 1, their service would change so that data from a customer vehicle would continue to be transmitted to OnStar after service was canceled – unless the customer asked for it to be shut off.

“We realize that our proposed amendments did not satisfy our subscribers,” OnStar President Linda Marshall said. “This is why we are leaving the decision in our customers’ hands. We listened, we responded and we hope to maintain the trust of our more than 6 million customers.”

If OnStar ever offers the option of a data connection after cancellation, it would only be when a customer opted-in, Marshall said. And then OnStar would honor customers’ preferences about how data from that connection is treated.

Maintaining the data connection would have allowed OnStar to provide former customers with urgent information about natural disasters and recalls affecting their vehicles even after canceling their service. It also would have helped in planning future services, Marshall said.

“We regret any confusion or concern we may have caused,” Marshall said.

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9 Comments on “GM Drops Proposed OnStar Policy Changes...”


  • avatar
    dvp cars

    …..I can almost hear the weeping, wailing, and gnashing at law enforcement offices across the continent. One of their most effective alibi busting tools just got taken away…….just when their investigators were getting used to it (or should have been).

    • 0 avatar
      redmondjp

      Sorry, but you are mistaken. Warrantless monitoring of US Citizens is now standard policy courtesy of the Patriot Act, and Onstar has already been used for this purpose (regardless of what their policy states).

      • 0 avatar
        APaGttH

        Yup. Including using disabled OnStar systems to listen in on conversations ongoing within the vehicle. There were stories about this years ago about how OnStar systems in vehicles were tapped by law enforcement, DEA, and FBI, with and without warrants (or warrants after the fact – forgot the legal term for that) to “activate” a vehicles OnStar system to listen to conversations going on in the vehicle.

        This was used in organized crime and drug trafficking cases and was documented in the press.

        I have pretty pure views of the Bill of Rights, so this usage makes my skin crawl. With that said, I was in an accident in 2006 in an OnStar equipped vehicle during it’s first year of ownership so the service was free and found the assistance invaluable. I’ve been a subscriber ever since.

        But this policy of monitoring and selling information on even deactivated vehicles was way over the line. I’m glad they backed down.

      • 0 avatar
        dvp cars

        ….yes, I’m sure that WAS going on with OnStar, but what I’m unclear on, given this about-face, is whether the monitoring is now technologically possible, regardless of the legalities involved.

  • avatar
    BMWfan

    When I found out about this, I called them right away and gave em hell. I will be looking for the correct fuse to pull so I don’t have to worry about it anymore, because now I don’t trust them. I also don’t use EZpass because the government has no right to know where I have been, or where I’m going. When I bought my Acura in 2006, I had no idea what this system was capable of. I will not make the same mistake again, and I will NEVER buy a GM vehicle because of this attempted deception. I can deal with a black box but listening in on a private conversation, in a vehicle I bought and paid for, is a little too Orwellian for me.

    • 0 avatar

      “I also don’t use EZpass because the government has no right to know where I have been, or where I’m going.”

      Did you know that a photograph of your license plate is taken at every toll you go through? So… the government knows where you’re going anyway.

    • 0 avatar
      majeskyb

      Just as a heads-up, pulling the fuse only disables the rear-view mirror, from what I’ve read. To deactivate OnStar, you’re going to have to find the controller under your dash, and pull it out. On the upside, you can reuse the gps antenna cable for your own nav system.

  • avatar
    Potemkin

    I am not naive enough to believe that OnStar won’t keep collecting and selling whatever data they get from an active or lapsed account. They say they’ll quit but whose going to police them. Trust no one.


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