Under Fire, OnStar Revises Plan To Continue Tracking Former Subscribers

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Last week, OnStar made some changes to its terms of service which were almost universally recognized as being overreaching and unnecessary. The two primary changes were, first, that OnStar would continue to track subscribers who had terminated their service. They could ask to have their data connection severed in addition to unsubscribing, but why should they have to? Second, OnStar gave itself the ability to share or sell anonymized driving data to “any third party,” “for any purpose, at any time.”

Faced with a flurry of criticism from users, sites like this one, and even Congress, OnStar has gone back on at least one of the changes.

They relate the update in a brief press release:

OnStar announced today it is reversing its proposed Terms and Conditions policy changes and will not keep a data connection to customers’ vehicles after the OnStar service is canceled.

If OnStar ever offers the option of a data connection after cancellation, it would only be when a customer opted-in, Marshall said. And then OnStar would honor customers’ preferences about how data from that connection is treated.

Kudos to them for quickly responding to pressure from their user base, but the tracking after cancellation was only part of the trouble. Their self-awarded ability to anonymize to their own satisfaction and then share with literally anybody they want to seems to be intact, and there doesn’t appear to be any mechanism for OnStar to even ask customers whether they want their information shared for marketing purposes (the “honor” bit is too slippery and vague to trust). If you want to use the service, this is something you’ll have to agree to. Whether that’s a good trade-off is up to you.