OnStar Privacy Measures Questioned

Recent changes to OnStar’s privacy agreements are being called into question by some U.S. senators, according to the Detroit News.

Last week, OnStar told its customers that it will continue to record some information about vehicle operations even if the service has been canceled, according to Wired. That information includes your speed, location, use of safety belts, use of vehicle features and more, according to OnStar’s terms and conditions.

OnStar collects this data through cell phone services and GPS satellites. Owners can opt out of this policy change, but they need to contact OnStar to do so.

Three Senate Democrats have questioned the data collection and are asking the Federal Trade Commission to investigate the new policy. “OnStar is attempting one of the most brazen invasions of privacy in recent memory," Sen. Charles Schumer told The Detroit News. Chris Coons and Al Franken are the other two Democratic senators who raised concerns about the policy.

OnStar does not continuously or routinely record location or vehicle speeds and does not eavesdrop on phone conversations, said Joanne Finnorn, vice president for OnStar Subscriber Services. Most of the information is “anonymized” — meaning the data can no longer be identified as belonging to you or your car — and is used for GM’s future product development or is sold or shared with third parties, such as public safety or traffic services, according to OnStar’s updated privacy statement.

By continuing to keep tabs even on defunct OnStar accounts, GM could alert vehicle occupants about severe weather or mandatory evacuations, Finnorn said. The open connection could also be used to provide owners information about warranty or recall updates.

Even though Finnorn says speed or location isn’t regularly recorded, OnStar’s own policy says it may collect information from your car on a periodic or regular basis if need be or required by law.

If you have any questions or wish to opt out of this data collection, you can call 888-4ONSTAR, hit the blue button on your OnStar-equipped vehicle and speak with an operator, or email OnStar at TTY@OnStar.com.

OnStar Privacy in Question (Detroit News)

General Motors In The News