OnStar Caves, Reverses Privacy Policy Change

September 27, 2011
After announcing plans to change its terms and conditions to enable what one U.S. Senator called a "brazen" invasion of privacy, OnStar has decided to reverse its course, and will not collect and share data from canceled subscribers.

OnStar had planned to change its terms of service to allow it to continue to collect data about drivers' location, speed, and other factors, and then share (i.e. sell) that data even after the owner of an OnStar-equipped vehicle had canceled their subscription, unless they called and specifically requested the tracking be turned off.

In a press release today, OnStar President Linda Marshall said, "We realize that our proposed amendments did not satisfy our subscribers. This is why we are leaving the decision in our customers' hands. We listened, we responded, and we hope to maintain the trust of our more than 6 million customers."

OnStar will now only offer the option of a data connection (and presumably, therefore, data collection) post-cancellation if a consumer chooses to opt in, and even then, OnStar says it "would honor customers' preferences about how data from that connection is treated."

Charles Schumer, the New York Senator that called the previous plan a "brazen" invasion of privacy, said shortly after the release via Twitter, "OnStar announces new privacy policy- will put privacy decisions back where they belong- in hands of individuals."

We agree: if you're not subscribing to OnStar, you shouldn't have to take additional steps to secure your location and other data. While it's heartening to see OnStar quickly change its course in the face of public outrage, it's at the same time unsettling that the course was set in the first place.

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