Skip to main content

OnStar Changes its Mind About Tracking Vehicles

On Tuesday OnStar said that it has decided to reverse its proposed Terms and Conditions policy changes, and will not keep a data connection to customers’ vehicles after the OnStar service is canceled.

The about-face arrives just under a week after the company updated its Terms and Conditions with the right to sell the GPS-derived data it pulls from OnStar systems in an anonymous format. The new terms enabled the company to keep a constant connection to an installed system even after the customer canceled the subscription. Naturally this caused a rush of negative feedback, especially since the policy meant OnStar could track the vehicle's movement and speed, and then possibly sell the info to local law enforcement.

According to OnStar, the new policy wasn't expected to kick in until the beginning of December, but the company began sending out emails last week announcing the new change in terms. Yet even during the aftermath following the new policy's exposure, OnStar pointed out that prior customers could actually call in and request that OnStar halt its unwanted connection. But that simply wasn't enough to keep consumers from lighting up torches and burning their contracts, so the company reverted back to its original Terms and Conditions.

"We realize that our proposed amendments did not satisfy our subscribers," OnStar President Linda Marshall said on Tuesday. "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." She added that if OnStar ever offers the option of a data connection after cancellation, it would only be when a customer opted-in, not by force. Even then, OnStar would honor customers’ preferences about how data from that connection is treated.

Last week an OnLive spokesman said that the post-subscription connection was kept alive in order to make it easier for consumers to renew their subscription. But Tuesday Marshall said that the constant data connection was to allow OnStar to provide urgent information about natural disasters and vehicle recalls to the former customers. Sounds like mixed messages, to be honest.

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

  • house70
    "We tried to sneak one through the back door and got caught. It won't happen again... until next time, anyways."
    One of the many examples where the corporations thought that their customers are stupid and it bit them right back in the a$$. they never have the best interest of their customers in mind, just their own, and are willing to go to any lengths and bend any rules or laws to fatten their wallets.
    Funny how they tried after the fact to polish that turd. A$$holes.
    Reply
  • nebun
    you can thank uncle SAM for this one....we elected those power mongers...i am going to take a shower...wait i can't, they are watching me...
    Reply
  • southernshark
    They are still going to do it, regardless of what the contract says.
    Reply
  • bobusboy
    otacon72Then they'll be sued....stupid comment.

    southernsharkThey are still going to do it, regardless of what the contract says.


    They're only going to get sued if they get caught; businesses get away with a lot of things that you don't hear about.
    Reply
  • tical2399
    nebunyou can thank uncle SAM for this one....we elected those power mongers...i am going to take a shower...wait i can't, they are watching me...

    How is the government responsible for this?
    Reply
  • garyshome
    Just remember you can't sue Obama Motors or the Government. Guess you haven't been paying any attention to what is going on here in the US.
    Reply
  • dalmvern
    I am interested in how exactly they establish the connection. Is it something where they can just push a button and establish the connection again?

    If this is the case, and I expect it is, then who is to say whether or not your connection has been broken or not? OnStar. They are the only ones. I know police can subpoena that information if it is available and they have cause, but actually selling this information to law enforcement? That is just wrong.
    Reply
  • eddieroolz
    As always, it took an outraged public to make them think again - when they should have not done this in the first place.
    Reply
  • mdillenbeck
    Personally I don't see the big deal. The data isn't tied to you, its anonymous, right? So they sell the data to retailers so they can buy locations that will be more convenient to you and reduce the amount you drive, or they sell it to the government so they can plan roadways that will benefit the community. Also, if they track your vehicle no matter what, wouldn't that be helpful if it is ever stolen?
    Reply
  • Camikazi
    MDillenbeckPersonally I don't see the big deal. The data isn't tied to you, its anonymous, right? So they sell the data to retailers so they can buy locations that will be more convenient to you and reduce the amount you drive, or they sell it to the government so they can plan roadways that will benefit the community. Also, if they track your vehicle no matter what, wouldn't that be helpful if it is ever stolen?Well considering they know the vehicle information, all of it, they can find out who owns it and can tie it to you rather easily, so anonymous technically but not really.
    Reply