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Privacy

by Mike Masnick


Filed Under:
privacy, tracking

Companies:
gm, onstar



OnStar Drops Plan To Monitor Non-Subscribers

from the recalculating... dept

Given the widespread public backlash over OnStar's plan to keep tracking people after they'd canceled their service -- and to potentially sell aggregate info to advertisers -- it appears that OnStar did what many people expected and backed away from the plan. It may have helped that a bunch of Senators had raised some questions about the legality of the move in the first place. The new plan will leave tracking as an option, but only on an opt-in basis, rather than an opt-out basis. As OnStar's President explained it, "We realize that our proposed amendments did not satisfy our subscribers." That's PR-speak for "we totally screwed up."

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  • icon
    That Anonymous Coward (profile), 29 Sep 2011 @ 1:15am

    3...2....1....
    and I am expecting a YouTube video of "Hitler finds out people read Terms of Service" now.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Chosen Reject (profile), 29 Sep 2011 @ 2:31am

    Well that sucks

    Oh great. Now it's going to be really difficult for me to rejoin their service. And how am I supposed to get yet another scam warranty reminder without this?

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Pixelation, 29 Sep 2011 @ 4:19am

    Any form of tracking should be opt-in.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Designerfx (profile), 29 Sep 2011 @ 4:50am

      Re:

      absolutely. The irony to this is that very few sites will offer this because they see $$ figures about "behavioral tracking" and get idiotic. That applies to almost every website on the web, which has made the excuse of "we can't survive without ads" and then attacks the users who dare to question it. I think there have been articles about this before.

      I remember techreport (the website), when it made super annoying ads, and people were commenting on using adblock, would be threatened with a "one more time and you're banned" (along with comment deletion) for daring to mention circumventing their ads, as if it's a mystery. Yes, they threatened me and said this was policy.

      however, the greatest mistake in the first place is getting a vehicle that has onstar.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Chuck Norris' Enemy (deceased) (profile), 29 Sep 2011 @ 6:32am

      Re:

      I am pretty sure I had to dig down through the menu on my cell phone to disable the GPS loc data tracking. But we already knew the cell companies were evil.

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Rich Kulawiec, 29 Sep 2011 @ 4:48am

    It doesn't matter

    I guarantee you that this issue will resurface. Once a company has made the strategic decision to sacrifice the privacy of its customers for profit, the only remaining questions are when, and where, and how. They'll either do this secretly, or they'll do part of it, or they'll sneak the opt-in into an agreement, or they'll outsource to someone else (for plausible denialability) or they'll do something else -- but they will do it, because there's no way that they're going to leave all that money on the table.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • identicon
      abc gum, 29 Sep 2011 @ 4:57am

      Re: It doesn't matter

      Absolutely.

      Is it illegal to remove power to the onstar equipment yet?

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • icon
        Steve R. (profile), 29 Sep 2011 @ 5:44am

        Re: Re: It doesn't matter

        May soon be illegal to remove/disable these devices. There have been rumors and occasional stories to the effect that GPS devices will be required to tax you based on the miles driven.

        Also see this article: "Feds to require black box event recorders in all new cars". The article writes: "This sounds like a sensible idea, as long as strict limits are places on what data is recorded, and who has access to it. The potential for abuse is huge, such as cops using it to issue speeding tickets, or GPS data being used in a divorce case to show who you were visiting. Still, the upside could be pretty significant too, for example proving that you weren't speeding when you had an accident."

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Brent Ashley (profile), 29 Sep 2011 @ 5:05am

    The title for the internal memo on this issue is probably something more along the lines of:

    "OnStar Drops Plan To Admit Publicly That We're Going To Continue To Monitor Non-Subscribers".

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Steve R. (profile), 29 Sep 2011 @ 5:36am

    Beyond the Tracking - "Home" can control your device

    For some reason this OnStar story raised the issue that we are "losing" control over our electronic devices since they are connected to "home". Think PlayStation and Kindle.

    Along with so-called "intellectual property", we need to be very concerned with the ability of "home" to manipulate your electronic devices, which me even rat on you.

    I also remember this from the TV Show "Outer Limits"

    "There is nothing wrong with your television set. Do not attempt to adjust the picture. We are controlling transmission. If we wish to make it louder, we will bring up the volume. If we wish to make it softer, we will tune it to a whisper. We can reduce the focus to a soft blur, or sharpen it to crystal clarity. We will control the horizontal. We will control the vertical. For the next hour, sit quietly and we will control all that you see and hear. You are about to experience the awe and mystery which reaches from the inner mind to... The Outer Limits."

    Quote from IMDB

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    Haywood (profile), 29 Sep 2011 @ 5:58am

    Another reason not to buy GM

    I won't even buy a used GM car /truck if it has on-star. Why would anyone want an open mic in their car. I don't think you need to be involved in nefarious activity to want to have a private place. I'm sure there are ways to disable the system, and if I wanted the vehicle bad enough I'd look into that, but I couldn't just ignore it and live with it.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

    • icon
      Chuck Norris' Enemy (deceased) (profile), 29 Sep 2011 @ 6:35am

      Re: Another reason not to buy GM

      Why would anyone want an open mic in their car

      Because they aren't doing anything wrong, they have nothing to hide. =]

      reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

      • identicon
        Anonymous Coward, 29 Sep 2011 @ 1:28pm

        Re: Re: Another reason not to buy GM

        Even if you are doing nothing wrong, you are doing something wrong, and someone will find a way to prove that you are doing something wrong.

        reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 29 Sep 2011 @ 8:32am

    Perhaps on star should offer a limited service for free that is paid for by the information they can gather and sell.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 29 Sep 2011 @ 12:51pm

    Note the distinct lack of PR flacks this time around.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]

  • icon
    hmm (profile), 29 Sep 2011 @ 1:34pm

    the alternative

    Instead of automatically opting you in when your subscription is about to expire instead they remotely cut access to your brakes.

    If you decide to re-subscribe thats your choice, but equally you have the right to have your chest crushed against the steering wheel and feel your eyeballs burst as your face smacks the windshield.

    reply to this | link to this | view in chronology ]


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