Privacy concerns land General Motors' OnStar in hot water
Monday 26 September 2011
General Motors' telematics company OnStar found itself in hot water last week after users spotted a change to the terms and conditions that appears to let the company - and its associates - spy on its owners.
OnStar, a communications and safety solution sold independently by General Motors and included as an option on vehicles from GM brands such as Chevrolet and Buick, keeps vehicles connected to a central system via GPS and a cellular data connection, passing on information such as location for the company and its operatives to use to aid the driver.
Historically, when a driver's OnStar subscription ended, so did the communication with the server - but as of December 1, that will no longer be the case, with General Motors still able to track vehicles through the link.
Additionally, OnStar's change in terms, sent in an email to users last week, said that it will now be able to share details of the car's usage with other companies, even if the subscription period has ended.
The changes provoked a furore in the United States, which is OnStar's major market (it is also available in Canada and China), with major automotive and technology blogs picking up the story and two senators urging General Motors to change its policy.
In a video message posted online, OnStar sought to allay fears, insisting that it did not continuously or routinely monitor the location or speed of a vehicle, and that customer information was never sold individually.
In order to kill the connection under the new terms, a cancelling subscriber must specifically request for it to be shut off, OnStar's Vijay Iyer told the New York Times , although mounting pressure may prompt the automaker to reconsider its position in the coming days.
Perhaps the most striking element of the move and reaction is the parallel to an episode earlier this year, when it was revealed that Apple iPhones kept location information in a hidden file without the user's permission - proof, if ever it was needed, that the worlds of technology and autos are rapidly converging.
Life & Style blogs
Replica cars: The 'new classics' roaring back into the lead
What is ALS and the Ice Bucket Challenge?
iPhone 6 vs iPhone 6 Plus: which is the best?
Jennifer Lawrence nude pictures leaked: Reddit removes 'The Fappening' board dedicated to sharing naked pictures of celebrities
Headaches, fry ups, and hair of the dog - why do we get hangovers, and is there such thing as a 'cure'?
Daniele Watts: Django Unchained actress detained in Los Angeles after being mistaken for a prostitute
George Galloway on Scottish independence: The political class is doing what Hitler couldn’t – destroying Britain
Scottish independence: Nationalist leader Jim Sillars threatens pro-union companies with 'day of reckoning' after independence
Scottish independence: Yes campaign feels the heat as Alex Salmond's NHS claims come under furious attack
Scottish independence: Britain faces 'constitutional crisis' at next election
£23m Birmingham cycle scheme is attacked by Tory councillor for not catering to the elderly
- 1 Scotland independence vote: Everything you ever wanted to know about life after the result
- 2 Lego breaks out of the toy box and heads for the gallery
- 3 A bottle of wine a day is not bad for you and abstaining is worse than drinking, scientist claims
- 4 Piers Morgan attempts to save the Union by promising to go back to the US if Scotland votes 'No' to independence
- 5 Tyler, The Creator says having the new U2 album automatically downloaded on his iPhone was 'like waking up with herpes'
£50 - £65 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: We are looking for flexible and i...
£50 - £65 per annum: Randstad Education Leeds: We are looking for flexible and...
£130 - £160 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Qualified KS2 Supply Teacher r...
£130 - £160 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: Qualified KS1 Teacher required,...