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The U.S. Department of Transportation is keeping a close eye on driver privacy as more automakers begin developing wireless connectivity in vehicles.
Last week, details surfaced of OnStar’s revised Terms and Conditions that allows the company to perform private data tracking on vehicles equipped with their device, whether the owner is a subscriber for OnStar’s service or not.
Even though OnStar, a telematics subsidiary of GM, had written a press release to assure customers that its two-way connection would only be used to alert vehicle occupants of an emergency weather condition that might necessitate evacuation or inform owners of recalls for their car, New York Democrat Senator Charles Schumer still felt it was necessary to call them out. “By tracking drivers even after they’ve canceled their service, OnStar is attempting one of the most brazen invasions of privacy in recent memory. 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.”
Senator Schumer and a significant number of others are skeptical of OnStar’s intent to use this powerful technology only for the benefit of vehicle owners equipped with OnStar. Vice President of GM OnStar, Joanne Finorn, has made assurances that no private information has been sold. However, Finorn adds that if OnStar chooses to sell their information in the future, the data would be aggregated and no individual information would be for sale.