OnStar changes course on privacy policy

After its decision to update its privacy policy, and continue to collect data from cars even after a user has unsubscribed from its service, public outcry has caused OnStar to rescind the privacy policy update.

Having the OnStar blue button in your car does not mean you will be tracked. Onstar/GM

From the We-didn't-mean-it,-can-we-please-just-forget-about-it? department: OnStar announced it would not change its privacy policy on December 1.

CNET reported last week that OnStar would put a new privacy policy in effect on December 1, which would allow it to continue collecting data from cars even after a driver chose not to renew the OnStar service subscription. After what must have been a public relations nightmare, the company said today that the new privacy policy will not take effect, and that no data would be collected by OnStar from non-subscribers.

OnStar President Linda Marshall noted that "Maintaining the data connection would have allowed OnStar to provide former customers with urgent information about natural disasters and recalls affecting their vehicles even after canceling their service." But that benefit was obviously communicated too little, too late, and was not enough to turn down public ire at the notion of unwanted data collection.

About the author

Wayne Cunningham reviews cars and writes about automotive technology for CNET. Prior to the Car Tech beat, he covered spyware, Web building technologies, and computer hardware. He began covering technology and the Web in 1994 as an editor of The Net magazine. He's also the author of "Vaporware," a novel that's available as a Nook e-book.


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