Big Brother OnStar

Did you drive a vehicle with OnStar, the GM subsidiary, but then cancelled the service?
You’ll be glad to know that the ever-so-helpful Big Brother OnStar will still track your car!

OnStar Command Center in Detroit, Michigan (AP photo)

David Kravets reports for Wired, September 20, 2011:
Navigation-and-emergency-services company OnStar is notifying its six million account holders that it will keep a complete accounting of the speed and location of OnStar-equipped vehicles, even for drivers who discontinue monthly service.
OnStar began e-mailing customers Monday about its update to the privacy policy, which grants OnStar the right to sell that GPS-derived data in an anonymized format.
Adam Denison, a spokesman for the General Motors subsidiary, said […] “[if] you want to cancel your OnStar service, we are going to maintain a two-way connection to your vehicle unless the customer says otherwise” […]
He said an example of how the data might be used would be for the Michigan Department of Transportation “to get a feel for traffic usage on a specific section of freeway.” The policy also allows the data to be used for marketing purposes by OnStar and vehicle manufacturers.
Collecting location and speed data via GPS might also create a treasure trove of data that could be used in criminal and civil cases. One could also imagine an eager police chief acquiring the data to issue speeding tickets en masse.
Jonathan Zdziarski, an Ohio forensics scientist, blogged about the new terms Tuesday. In a telephone interview, he said he was canceling his service and making sure he was being disconnected from OnStar’s network. He said the new privacy policy goes too far. “They added a bullet point allowing them to collect any data for any purpose,” he said.

UPDATE (Sept. 27, 2011):

In the face of a full-on revolt from users and pressure from Congress, Drudge Report and other media outlets, General Motors’ OnStar service just announced it was reversing plans to keep tracking vehicles of its 6 million subscribers if they cancel the service. Now once it’s off, it’s off.
H/t FOTM writer Dave  😀

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This makes me wonder, what happens to a vehicle with On Star, when it is sold? My husband had a GMC truck equipped with On Star that he traded in on a Ford truck. What if a serial killer got his old truck and never changed the On Star registration?


And Just how do you know Onstar isnt tracking you ? The capability is still there. They may be honest in saying there not going to track you or collect any data after you tell them No. Are you really going to believe it? That info is worth quite a lot, Maybe someone else would take over that little deed . The capability is still in your car unless Onstar deactivates it. Think about it…

yan bellavance
yan bellavance

yeah right…..too bad you are not aware that corrupt cops are a plenty these days…happenned to me…..corrupted lawyer reported my car stolen (not me lol) and the had my system tapped for weeks. I am suing GM and OnStar.