Is OnStar Going Too Far?

Frank Williams
by Frank Williams

GM's OnStar system is a regular little Yenta. It already helps owners decide where to go, tells them how to get there, remotely unlocks doors for forgetful PGA golfers, runs remote diagnostics on the car (and emails the results), summons first responders in an accident, helps police track the vehicle if it's stolen and finds you a nice Jewish girl to marry (well, almost). If that wasn't intrusive helpful enough, The AP (via the Miami Herald) reports the next step in OnStar's eNannyism: Robocopping car thieves. First, they'll advise the miscreant that the police are watching. If the crook isn't prone to paranoia (do you hear voices?), OnStar's helpful representative will cut engine power until the vehicle slows to a stop– provided police deem it safe to do so. OnStar says owners can opt out of the engine kill switch program, but also claim 95 percent of their subscribers are down with it. Yes but– I doubt they raised the possibility that the technology could also be used as a speed limiter. Anyway, it's only a matter of time before plans for an OnStar jamming device hits the web.

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  • Kevin Kevin on Oct 09, 2007
    Lastly, if you think people can’t lock their keys in Japanese cars, call AAA club. OK, well I confess it CAN happen if you try. Like the time I casually tossed my keys into the trunk while grabbing a box ... and then shut the trunk! But that's a once in a decade event and you just call for a taxi: the drivers are trained to jimmy doors. Equiping a car with an on-board cell phone is not a costly endeavor. Lexus does it too. Lexus Link actually IS OnStar, in case you didn't know. Maybe GM does make money on that deal. Anyway those telematics units cost around $400, I've heard.
  • Nopanegain Nopanegain on Oct 09, 2007

    "Onstar Jamming Device" done correctly: I can't wait to see the look on the Z06's owner's face when he is overtaken by my Corolla and the OnStopper 2000. Hey Sajeev- Z07/Blue Flame my ass! Side Benefit: Ghost Riding the Whip becomes a much safer activity...

  • Zenith Zenith on Oct 10, 2007

    Ten years ago,when teenagers used my cars, I'd have said that OnStar does too little. Back in those days, I'd have loved to tell the OnStar operator, "Kid's using the car tonight. Limit the top speed at 65 and make sure it takes him no less than 14 seconds to get there." Maybe I'm on to something. GM, you're welcome to crib my idea for Governor on Demand. It should prove popular with parents.

  • Frank Williams Frank Williams on Oct 10, 2007

    Maybe I’m on to something. GM, you’re welcome to crib my idea for Governor on Demand. It should prove popular with parents.

    The only problem with Governor on Demand (GoD) is when law enforcement agencies start playing GoD and installing technology that keeps cars from going faster than the posted speed limit.

    Of course, that would cut out a major source of revenue so it probably would never happen. They'll just continually monitor the car's telemetrics to see how fast it's going and email the owner a ticket the minute it exceeds the speed limit.