Friday, October 7, 2011

I'll be Watching You

Every step you take,
I'll be watching you
-lyrics by Sting
My wife has frequently said that our next car should have "OnStar" becuase it sounds so useful and appropriate for emergency preparedness. But Wired Magazine reports something unsettling about OnStar, even if you unsubscribe and stop paying the monthly fee of $19-$29, they may still continue to track your vehicle. OnStar claims this is to make it “easier to re-enroll” in the program if you decide to come back. But more likely OnStar wants your travel history so they can make money selling it. A new privacy policy from OnStar makes it clear that they have the right to sell GPS-derived data in an anonymized format.

A spokesman for the General Motors subsidiary, said OnStar does not currently sell customer data, but it reserves that right. He said both the new and old privacy policies allow OnStar to chronicle a vehicle’s every movement and its speed. “We hear from organizations periodically requesting our information,” he said.
An example would be for the Michigan Department of Transportation “to get a feel for traffic usage on a specific section of freeway.”

Bottom Line
OnStar can be a life saver. But it should leave you alone if you cancel. Canceling customers must explicitly opt out of the continued surveillance monitoring program. If you don't trust OnStar to honor your opting out, the Consumerist recommends checking your user manual for the location of the OnStar fuse and removing it.

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