• 32
GM is backing off its plan to sell data from former cus... GM is backing off its plan to sell data from former customers. (GM)
General Motors says it will stop tracking people who have stopped subscribing to its OnStar service after it faced public and congressional opposition once the plan became public.

OnStar, the automaker's unit that administers the in-vehicle electronics communication system, has changed its "terms and conditions" to allow the company to monitor driver data even after people stopped subscribing to the service, and said they would sell the data to third parties.

Customers would have had to opt out of that process. Now, the automaker will ask customers if they want to opt-in to the tracking.

"We realize that our proposed amendments did not satisfy our subscribers," OnStar President Linda Marshall said. "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."

The automaker's OnStar system is installed in most of GM's cars. It's a satellite-based system that delivers "telematics" services: providing everything from the ability to unlock locked keys in the car via satellite to monitoring air-bag deployment to contact first responders, as well as traffic updates and more.

Last week, OnStar made a change to its "Terms and Conditions" that stipulated it could track unsubscribed customers in order to sell data more effectively. GM typically offers buyers of GM's cars a trial period, with a pay option kicking in later for packages that start at $18.95 per month. Many customers do not continue to subscribe once the free trial period is over.

GM, facing a Congressional inquiry over the new policy, reversed its position after first defending it. Privacy is becoming a hot-button issue with companies like Facebook attempting to sell consumer data whenever possible. Facebook on Wednesday admitted it had been tracking subscribers even after they logged off.

Senator Charles "Chuck" Schumer (D-NY) who often takes up consumer issues, called for a full investigation into OnStar's original plan.

"By tracking drivers even after they've canceled their service, OnStar is attempting one of the most brazen invasions of privacy in recent memory," said Schumer. "I urge OnStar to abandon this policy and for (the Federal Trade Commission) to immediately launch a full investigation to determine whether the company's actions constitute an unfair trade practice."

One of the sticky issues GM would have been dealing with if it went ahead was grappling with the fact that GM is still approximately one-third owned by the Federal government. GM management is anxious for the government to sell its stake, dating back GM's 2009 bankruptcy and bailout by the taxpayer. But with GM's stock tanking to well below its 2010 offering price, the taxpayer would take a major hit if the government sold the stock now.

Taking a hard line against Senators that stood up for GM's bailout while the government still owns one-third of the company could have been awkward.

I'm reporting this comment as:

Reported comments and users are reviewed by Autoblog staff 24 hours a day, seven days a week to determine whether they violate Community Guideline. Accounts are penalized for Community Guidelines violations and serious or repeated violations can lead to account termination.

    • 1 Second Ago
      • 3 Years Ago
      If I had ever considered buying a vehicle with onstar on it I would NEVER do so now. I will never buy any vehicle from any maker that has this type of technology on it., and I will NEVER believe that any manufacturer will honor its' promise to stop monitoring them. I think my next car may be a 1968 Chrysler Newport.
        • 3 Years Ago
        Big Brother IS watching YOU! Do you believe that the red light cameras are there only to catch red light offenders? Think again! But they seem to work well for tracking the escape routes of bank robbers, even those on horseback. lol
      • 3 Years Ago
      I'm totally sure they've ended that...what a bunch of bull. Gm stinks on ice and I will NEVER buy another GM car ever again.
        • 3 Years Ago
        GM makes the best cars ever. Will not buy anything else. I don't mind them tracking my car. If I am doing nothing wrong, who cares? If I am stranded one day, I would be hoping that someone could track my whereabouts!
          • 3 Years Ago
          Take my VIBE, PLEASE!!!! I have had German (VW) Japanese (Honda, Scion) cars and LOVED them, hate hate hate this miserably made overpriced piece of junk!! Getting the (much more frequent) repairs are much more expensive than the imports, too.
      Justin's Mom
      • 3 Years Ago
      And I have some ocean front property in Arizona for sale!
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Justin's Mom
        1 big earthquake on the west coast and that could be a true statement
      • 3 Years Ago
      why in the hell were they doing it in the first place............damn your reverse
      • 3 Years Ago
      NO MORE opting out of any scheme that endeavors to see a person's private information. OPT IN only, and this includes ALL banks, credit card, issuers, etc. The law needs to be changed NOW!
      • 3 Years Ago
      On-Star has been in GM automobiles for how long now? And, all of a sudden, folks are now complaining about privacy? Are folks really this stupid and naive, to not understand and be well aware of the fact that this kind of thing was going on? I am simply flabbergasted sometimes at the sheer naivety demonstrated by scores of people and have to wonder what kind of sheltered life it is they must have led to be so absolutely dense.
      • 3 Years Ago
      I am new to the internet and a friend of mine told me about this car insurance website: ( http://tinyurl.com/InsuranceTip ) It was so easy to find everything I was looking for, when getting free quotes and comparing prices. I saved over 380 dollars on my families car insurance costs. My neighbor is an insurance agent and he was amazed at the deal I found.
      • 3 Years Ago
      Yeah Like I really believe they are not tracking us. Anybody that believes this must be sheep or an obama voter!
      • 3 Years Ago
      Wow, who would have ever thought that if you are using a satellite system to track your own location, that the satellite system provider could track you? I mean, GM and other corporations would never do anything untoward like selling the data they collected about your driving and shopping habits to third parties, would they? People are so naive, I used to work for GM, theyt care about your safety, the only reason they offered the OnStar service in the first place is because they found a way to make money on it by selling your personal information to marketing groups.
      Steven R. Russell
      • 3 Years Ago
      Easy come, easy go.
        • 3 Years Ago
        @Steven R. Russell
        ...unless you own a Yugo or a Fiat!
      • 3 Years Ago
      I've owned 3 cars with OnStar. I love it mostly because of the hands free calling & also because I locked my keys in the car twice. It really shined when I was in an accident. They immediately started talking to me they had allready notified the police and ambulance, probably because the airbag deployed. Now fast forward. The insurance co. totaled the car. once the car is totaled it belongs to the insurance co. They own all the info. stored in OnStar including the speed and breaking ect. ect..When you rent a car with OnStar the rental co. is privy to all that info.. I read about a renter who was fined by the rental co. for speeding and another for driving out of state. Both of those were violations of the standard contract.
      • 3 Years Ago
      I once went to look at a new car and they told me that Onstar came with the car for free the first year(meaning the cost was built into the price of the car) I told them no thanks take it out I don't want it, they told me I was crazy after all it is for safety and it is free, I told them I don't care I don't want it, but they could not help me because they were not allowed to disable the on star so I told them I could not buy their car. I refuse to buy a car with mandatory onstar for a day let alone a year
    • Load More Comments