Is OnStar Profiting From Spying On Your Car?

By Jason Davis | September 22, 2011
We don't mean to alarm you, but OnStar could be spying on your GM car. Of course, in this Facebook age, we're used to shady and constantly changing user agreements granting access to our personal information. Legal, maybe, but that isn't altogether comforting. And now, it seems, OnStar is following suit. According to OnStar's new user agreement, the GPS service will continue to track and collect information about your car and your driving habits, such as your speed, the locations you often drive to, and whether or not you wear a seatbelt. It will do this even if you do not subscribe to the service, or have cancelled your subscription. "Under our new Terms and Conditions, when a customer cancels service, we have informed customers that OnStar will maintain a two-way connection to their vehicle unless they ask us not to do so," said Joanne Finnorn, vice president, subscriber services. According to Finnorn, OnStar has never sold personal information to a third party. But what exactly is a third party? We imagine that a third party can be your local police force, your insurance agency, or other marketing interests. We're not saying this is the case, and OnStar has noted that customers can still "turn off" the two-way connection in their cars. And that's exactly what some people are suggesting, since the new policy, which takes effect in December 2011, can take up to 10 days for the account to cancel, and an additional 14 days for the connection to terminate. Finnorn notes that it would be beneficial for the customer to keep the connection turned on, that OnStar can "alert vehicle occupants about severe weather conditions such as tornado warnings or mandatory evacuations. Another benefit for keeping this connection 'open' could be to provide vehicle owners with any updated warranty data or recall issues."'s take: We don't buy the warning and evacuation bit, since most people will get that information from radio, word of mouth, or their smart phones before even getting in the car. Most importantly, the decision is yours as a consumer to decide whether or not you desire the service, and whether or not you trust the service provider. We're not lawyers, and we know that many of you aren't either. But when it comes to privacy, the intricate and sinewy details mask what are often rarely-read and loosely-enforced rights. We won't pretend to know OnStar's intent with the new user agreement, but it is worth noting that OnStar is a business, and even the friendliest and best-meaning businesses have to increase revenue to stay in business. What do you think? Without getting into unsubstantiated and potentially libelous conspiracy theories, we want to know if you have used OnStar, what your experience was like, and if you haven't, whether or not you would consider it. Sound off in the comment box below! Source: Zdziarski, OnStar