If you're the owner of a fairly new General Motors product, you may want to take a close look at the most recent OnStar terms and conditions. As it turns out, the company has altered the parameters under which it can legally collect GPS data on your vehicle.

Originally, the terms and conditions stated that OnStar could only collect information on your vehicle's location during a theft recovery or in the midst of sending emergency services your way. That has apparently changed. Now, OnStar says that it has the right to collect and sell personal, yet supposedly anonymous information on your vehicle, including speed, location, seat belt usage and other information.

Who would be interested in that data, you ask? Law enforcement agencies, for starters, as well as insurance companies. Perhaps the most startling news to come out of the latest OnStar terms and conditions is the fact that the company can continue to collect the information even after you disconnect the service. If you want the info to be cut off all together, you'll have to specifically shut down the vehicle's data connection. If that sounds scary, you should check out a full breakdown of the new policies here.

*UPDATE: OnStar has released a statement in response to the dust up over its newest set of terms and conditions. You can find the full text after the jump.
Show full PR text
New Terms & Conditions

The following statement can be attributed to Joanne Finnorn, Vice President, Subscriber Services

"OnStar has and always will give our customers the choice in how we use their data. We've also been very open with our customers about changes in services and privacy terms.

"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. In the future, this connection may provide us with the capability to 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.

"Of course, if the customer requests us to turn off the two-way connection, we will do as we have always done, and that is honor customers' requests.

"Our guiding practices regarding sharing our subscribers' personal information have not changed. We are always very specific about with whom we share customers' personal information, and how they will use it. We have never sold any personally identifiable information to any third party.

"Keeping the two-way connection open will also allow OnStar to capture general vehicle information that could be used in future product development.

"We apologize for creating any confusion about our Terms and Conditions. We want to make sure we are as clear with our customers as possible, but it's apparent that we have failed to do this. As always, we are listening to our subscribers' feedback and we will continue to be open to their suggestions and concerns."


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  • 333 Comments
      Leff Behind
      • 3 Years Ago
      It never ceases to amaze me that people fail to read the fine print in their contracts, and then they are shocked - shocked! - to discover that companies are making money off them any way they can. Please, people. Before the nice man at the dealership hands you the keys to your shiny new ride, read everything he hands you. And what you don't have time to read there, read when you get home. A little time reading can save 10 years of surprises over the lifetime of the vehicle. I am not taking sides with or against GM here because if it's in paper, then no one should be surprised. Now whether what they are doing is ethical, given that they KNOW few people read the fine print, is another issue . . .
        2 Wheeled Menace
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Leff Behind
        Have you ever read those agreements? they are written in lawyer english and extend for dozens of pages typically. This is intentional and meant to be difficult to understand. Feel like spending a few hours before doing anything in life? not many people do. And they know it.
          • 3 Years Ago
          @2 Wheeled Menace
          [blocked]
      unbelievable
      • 3 Years Ago
      why do I not have a problem believing this...
      Cooperaaaron
      • 3 Years Ago
      No OnStar, no worries.....
      soonermike
      • 3 Years Ago
      then they need to start making Onstar cheaper
      Dark Gnat
      • 3 Years Ago
      If people would actually READ the Terms and Conditions, this would come as no surprise. Google, Amazon, iTunes, you cell phone provider, internet provider all do the same thing, and have been doing so for years. Somehow, because it's "Gubmit Motors" it is all terrible now. Wanna complain about it? Do so BEFORE you sign the contract.
      Drakkon
      • 3 Years Ago
      We don't need Big Brother imposed upon us. We will choose to submit to Big Brother out of convenience.
      • 3 Years Ago
      [blocked]
        Steve
        • 3 Years Ago
        The focus should be on the fact that if GM is 30% of the market on cars then the data they extract is a statistical valid sampling. So for example, if GM drivers speed along a certain street or hwy. then it is a given that that same % of cars speed. GM was used for the sample, that all but it affects us all who are not GM owners.
      A B
      • 3 Years Ago
      I've always assumed this. Ever since the first time I was given the "why don't you buy a GM? It has Onstar."
      kkoloff
      • 3 Years Ago
      Ya I can see data being sold to insurance companies.
      scott3
      • 3 Years Ago
      As cars get more connected they all will be doing this soon if not all ready Most of you life is already tracked if you make a cell call, pay with a credit card, surf the net etc. None of this is new and sadly becoming part of all our lives no matter if you know it or not. It is scary to see how much info I can find on most people as an average citizen but companies and the goverment have you well covered with out GM's help already. While I am not happy with this I see it no greater threat than we already face with all the other outlets already tracking our ever move and purchase. It is damn near impossible to remain off the grid anymore. The one thing that needs to be set straight is this has no connection to the goverment bail out. They really did not need to bail out GM to do this. Your smart phone tells them more than anything. At this point Pandora is out of the box and there is little chance she is going back in no matter who is in charge.
      Bob Forsberg
      • 3 Years Ago
      Must be a fuse/breaker that can be pulled to disable it....can't pull the battery like on your phone to disable GPS.
      crm
      • 3 Years Ago
      I wonder if Hyundai's "BlueLink", Fords "Sync", Toyotas version of OnStar will be raked over the coals like this for doing the same things someday down the road.
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