We have all seen the OnStar commercials where a poor soul has had a traffic accident and a reassuring voice comes over the loudspeaker asking the driver if everything is okay or if they need help. That’s the kinder, gentler OnStar.
In addition to the other reasons they collect data such as diagnostic trouble codes, oil life remaining, tire pressure, fuel economy and odometer readings; information about crashes involving your vehicle, including the direction from which your vehicle was hit, which air bags have deployed, and safety belt usage about your vehicle, they have allowed themselves the ability to collect:
“the location and the approximate speed of your Vehicle based on the Global Positioning System (“GPS”) satellite network” “for any purpose, at any time, provided that following collection of such location and speed information identifiable to your Vehicle, it is shared only on an anonymized basis.”
Some critics suggest that GPS information is never anonymous, because GPS coordinates can pinpoint places such as your home address.
They also disclose for the first time that they keep tracking your car even if you cancel your OnStar service.
“Unless the Data Connection to your Vehicle is deactivated, data about your Vehicle will continue to be collected even if you do not have a Plan. It is important that you convey this to other drivers, occupants, or subsequent owners of your Vehicle. You may deactivate the Data Connection to your Vehicle at any time by contacting an OnStar Advisor.”
On September 27, after much public criticism and a call for an investigation by a New York congressman, OnStar decided to retract this part of their planned changes to their policy.
All the other changes will be implemented including that they now say they can share your data with their own affiliates for “marketing purposes,” and have removed the section about requiring your consent first:
“ONSTAR WILL NOT OTHERWISE DISCLOSE, SELL, OR RENT INFORMATION SPECIFIC TO YOU OR YOUR CAR TO THIRD PARTIES FOR THEIR INDEPENDENT USE WITHOUT YOUR CONSENT.”