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The OnStar telematics system used by General Motors is ... The OnStar telematics system used by General Motors is one that's under scrutiny for how it collects and transmits sensitive driver data. (Photo: GM).
One week after a government report detailed how car companies keep data on the whereabouts of millions of drivers, one of the nation's leading motor clubs is urging car companies to better protect consumer privacy.

AAA said Thursday it would push the nation's leading car manufacturers to be more transparent in the way they handle customer's data.

"The data that today can be routinely collected by cars includes some of the most sensitive data that can be collected about a person, including information about their precise location and driving habits," said Bob Darbelnet, AAA's CEO and president.

Many connected features in today's vehicles, such as turn-by-turn directions and real-time traffic information make it possible for car companies to collected information that once would have been impossible. Approximately 20 percent of the new cars sold this year contain features that transmit data outside the vehicle.

Questions on how such data is collected and stored by car companies emerged last week after a report from the Government Accountability Office found that, while automakers had taken some steps to protect privacy, they had taken others that made it difficult for motorists to understand how the companies used that data.

Those concerns were accentuated later in the week when Ford vice president Jim Farley told a crowd at the Consumer Electronics Show, "We know everyone who breaks the law. We know when you are doing it. We have GPS in your car, so we know what you're doing." He later backpedaled from the statement.

Half of the companies surveyed by the GAO did not adequately describe the purpose for sharing location data and the companies did not allow consumers to request their data be deleted, according to that report.

AAA's consumer-rights platform urges reform of those shortcomings. The motor club wants businesses and the government to be more transparent about the collection and use of vehicle data, and to ensure consumers can decide how that data is shared.

"Customers should not be forced to relinquish control as a condition of purchasing or leasing a vehicle or of receiving a connected-vehicle service," the statement says.

AAA's proposal for a consumer-rights bill also wants car manufacturers to take precautions that protect vehicle data systems and services against hackers. Security breaches have become a big concern for automakers, as hackers have already infiltrated cars and demonstrated they can manipulate engine, throttle and steering controls.

But the same systems that leave cars vulnerable also provide benefits such as improving crash-response times, mechanical diagnostics and integrated navigation.

"Connected cars can dramatically improve the driving experience, but companies must be responsible in their use of consumer information," Darbelnet said.

U.S. Senator Al Franken (D-Minnesota) had asked the GAO to review privacy in the auto industry and says he may reintroduce legislation that regulates location data later this year.

"Our privacy laws haven't kept pace with these enormous advances," he said. "This report shows that Minnesotans and people across the country need much more information about how the data are being collected, what they're being used for and how they're being shared with third parties."

Such concerns will become even more acute in the future as vehicle-to-vehicle communications and vehicle-to-infrastructure communications become part of the everyday driving experience on U.S. roads.

AAA said its announcement Thursday came one week after its executives addressed privacy concerns in the public comments of a Federal Trade Commission hearing last week.

Pete Bigelow is an associate editor at AOL Autos. He can be reached via email at peter.bigelow@teamaol.com and followed on Twitter @PeterCBigelow.


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  • 84 Comments
      Scoot
      • 1 Year Ago
      http://www.ehow.com/how_5806198_disconnect-onstar.html
        John
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Scoot
        Bet you void your warrenty if you do.
      a21heating
      • 1 Year Ago
      Way too much electronics in cars and trucks now. No more backyard mechanic these days. Had a Pontiac in the 60's , 325 HP and got 29 miles per gallon on a trip, Now I have a toyota with a little better than a lawn mower engin and lucky to see 17 miles per on a trip. Today your at the mercey of the dealer or a mechanic that has 20 grand worth of Computor software just to find out which of the 50 sensors is bad. If the new veichels are still running good after 6 years chances they are falling apart from rust. Mostly made in china and assembled in the US - Plus they are all made from recycled crap. Thank you EPA The polution from manufacturing in other countries still affect the whole world , the difference is they have jobs we don't ! And if you think we have cleaner warter and air your a dam fool. It just takes longer to get here depending which way the wind blows. Wake up People ! we need to bring back manufacturing and jobs -- what the hell happened to sweat equity - honest days pay for an honest days work .
        • 1 Year Ago
        @a21heating
        I had a 63 Impala SS, and Re-built the engine, that I put into an 80 C10 Pick-up. ...it was not a "STOCK' rebuild. ... Did the: Cam & 'HP' pistons, Dual Point Dist., etc., etc. ...and on a 'test' Emission Test, IT passed.... BY a Lot !! But ... 'failed' because 1980 need a A.I.R. pump, ...by 'Reg's'/Epa. You ... Thank the EPA ??? Pres. Nixon, signed off on the EPA And I believe, some where ther has to a copy of His interview with David Frost, after He(Nixon), left Office. Ask/Reponded: (I'll paraphase) : I would NOT have signed the EPA, ..Looked good on Paper, but has turned into a 'Can of Worms'. EPA is like OBAMACARE, ...Once started ... very hard or impossible to stop, as ...'Gov't' jobs are envoled. And Congress lacks the " B@ll's", to stop things, once in motion.
      farmers386
      • 1 Year Ago
      an idea for a new business? There is no law that requires you to send out driving data to ANYONE,,not yet anyway..and even if there was a law, I would not give 2 *****. Some of you computer guru's need to open up a business in every town, remove this **** from the cars and charge the customer a reasonable fee...you would be wealthy real fast..
      MERLIN
      • 1 Year Ago
      stop buying cars until that crap is removed, it would not take very long for car companies to respond
        • 1 Year Ago
        @MERLIN
        There ya go Merlin ^5, do you think we can get the sheeeeeeeple to understand ??? Wake up America.........
      brian
      • 1 Year Ago
      the USA government wants this information.OBAMA, REID,and PELOSI want comple control of you 24/7 and will get their way until voters of NEVADA,CALIFORNIA,the east and west coast voters quit voting these AMERICA haters to office.they hatec our country and will vote these people and their type in until it is complete government control of every breath a person takes.
        Diana
        • 1 Year Ago
        @brian
        I'm sorry I hit the thumbs down button by mistake......I totally agree with you! These people and their like need to be extricated from American politics completely. They all have the mind set that the "herd needs to be culled. " and we are so stupid that we need to be watched 24/7. Hopefully the sheeple will wake up soon......
      • 1 Year Ago
      "On-Star" may have some 'good' things, but I agree with most, ... 'it's' just too easy for the Goverment (and/or Others) to tap into the data. 'Big Brother', .. Like 'Farenhent 415', ... hope I spelled it correctly. Yea, having a 'black box' may help to figure out ... Accident causes & Insurance Claims. But 'at what cost'? ... OUR Freedom. The few 'posts' I read all have some valid points. The 'new' vechicles are nice, as long as the Warranty &/or option warranty lasts, in My point of view. ...IT's the 'used' vehicle's, that You would have pay for $$$ repairs. And that' good for 'Dealership's' or Shop's that can afford to Buy the needed 'computer' to access the 'trouble' code/s, when they come up. AND ..Bad for the local Gas Station. Yea, ... 'part store' scanner's get some, but THOSE codes are only related to Emission Regs. New is Not awalys Better.
        dls031568
        • 1 Year Ago
        get a clue, YOU can be tracked by you're cell phone, EVERY cell phone has tracking chips that you can not defeat, not even by removing the battery! Its amazing just how stupid American people are!
      mamatiger919
      • 1 Year Ago
      People complains about the government obtaining data and invading our privacy. However they are small peanuts when compare to private insurance. They have no qualms about sharing this data with others for a price. I can see the auto insurance sharing data about your driving habits and location with insurance companies. The insurance company when then use this data to determine your premium. Big brother is not government is private companies.
      ruggercop
      • 1 Year Ago
      Dropped On Star on Buick after changing credit cards and they could not auto deduct any more. Received what I interpreted was a threatening letter "you no longer have protection." I will drop the Enclave and go back to BMW. I wanted to buy American but why? My Jeep was made in Canada.
      pfjw
      • 1 Year Ago
      Eventually it will devolve to the insurance companies. Progressive (and others) already have a system whereby they will chip your vehicle and determine rates on your actual driving habits. I am of two minds on this - I drive about 30,000 miles per year and given the general level of idiocy I see on a regular basis, anything that makes these jokers more self-aware is a good thing. But consider the following: a) Every time I use my Easy Pass, on the Turnpike (any turnpike) they know when I got on, when I got off, the miles driven, the average speed and so forth. And, when and where I am where I am. b) Linking a credit card to my fuel purchases, they know my frequency of purchasing fuel, the number of miles I drive per year, so mileage, speeds and locations. Whether I drive in Canada, NYC or anywhere else. And that is without the connected bit.
        Fred
        • 1 Year Ago
        @pfjw
        You don't have to use Easy Pass. You can pay cash. End of problem. If you volunteer to tell them the info, you have no complaint.
      Mike N' Heidi
      • 1 Year Ago
      I get emails everyday for my onstar to pay them to collect data from me. I just delete it.
      • 1 Year Ago
      we all are microchipped
      • 1 Year Ago
      maybe the author of this could ask AAA about their programs that are related to the research they do....and how its tied to the junk mail that shows up to the customer, or why they changed research companies after it was brought to their attention their data was contaminated, in fact shutting a program down for over 300 contractors with no notice and hiding certain areas so you could no longer see it on the site.....maybe they could actually show the data they retrieve and explain it. I know quite a few people who would like to see it. I even offered at my expense to view the process for validation and they refused as related to their statement of what they did with the info.
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