I canceled the OnStar subscription on my new GMC vehicle today after receiving an email from the company about their new terms and conditions. While most people, I imagine, would hit the delete button when receiving something as exciting as new terms and conditions, being the nerd sort, I decided to have a personal drooling session and read it instead. I’m glad I did. OnStar’s latest T&C has some very unsettling updates to it, which include the ability to sell your personal GPS location information, speed, safety belt usage, and other information to third parties, including law enforcement. To add insult to a slap in the face, the company insists they will continue even after you cancel your service, unless you specifically shut down the data connection to the vehicle after canceling.

Not surprisingly, I even had to scrub the link as it included my vehicle’s VIN number, to tell OnStar just what customers were actually reading the new terms and conditions. Your contact information, billing information, etc. is collected. Nobody cares about tire pressure and crash information being collected – after all, that’s what OnStar is there for. Toward the end, you’ll read about how GPS data is collected, including vehicle speed and seat belt status. Again, in an emergency, this is very useful and most customers want an emergency services business to collect this information – when necessary. And the old 2010 terms and conditions only allowed OnStar to collect this information for legitimate purposes, such as recovering a stolen vehicle, or when needed to provide other OnStar services to customers on demand. As you scroll down the list of information collected, you see that once you get past important emergency services (what we pay OnStar for), OnStar now has given themselves the right to also use this information to stuff their pockets.

OnStar has granted themselves the right to collecting and selling this personal information for any purpose, at any time, provided that following collection of such location and speed information identifiable to your Vehicle, it is shared only on an anonymized basis.” – This provides carte blanche authority for OnStar to now track and collect information about your current GPS position and speed any time and anywhere, instead of only in the rare, limited circumstances the old contract outlined.

OnStar’s new T&C continues, explaining that part of the company may at some point be sold, and all of your information with it. It sounds as though OnStar is poising part of their analytics department to be purchased by a large data warehousing company, such as a Google, or perhaps even an Apple. Do you trust such companies with unfettered access to the entire GPS history of your vehicle?

This is too shady, especially for a company that you’re supposed to trust your family to. My vehicle’s location is my life, it’s where I go on a daily basis. It’s private. It’s mine. I shouldn’t have to have a company like OnStar steal my personal and private life just to purchase an emergency response service. Taking my private life and selling it to third party advertisers, law enforcement, and God knows who else is morally inept. Shame on you, OnStar. You disgust me.

I guess we’ll now have to hear from the “better safe than sorry” bunch. Or the “if you have nothing to hide, then”…morans. Just go get yourself micro chipped and please leave the rest of us alone.




  1. Faxon says:

    What is that third button? The ability to twat from your car?

  2. Animby says:

    # 31 Faxon said, “The ability to twat from your car?” Is that legal? Better class than a streetwalker?

  3. Suppose.... says:

    Well it’s your car right?
    I mean you can legally modify it in any way you want to right?

    How long does it take to create an OnStar data generator and plug it into your car?
    160 miles an hours, on Route 80, no seatbelt.

    And if OnStar can’t prove the accuracy of the data collected, all data collected become useless.

  4. JimD says:

    Corporations are DRIVING THE FASCIST STATE !!!

    The Government is just another “client” !!!

  5. Mr Ed says:

    “VIN number” is redundant.

  6. President Amabo says:

    #33 – WTF are you talking about? No one should visit DU sober!

    #34 – I like it. They say you can call and have the data connection disabled, but I would never trust that and will physically disconnect it. A better long term solution would be a way to hack the unit and feed bogus info to poison the data pool. I like that a lot.

    In the meantime, everyone who rides in an OnStar equipped vehicle should scream profanities about Obama constantly, in case the NSA has remotely enabled the in-vehicle microphone.

  7. generationofswine says:

    It’s radio for crying out loud. Get the service manual and unplug the antenna.

  8. Mr, Ed - the Original (with comma) says:

    # 36 Mr Ed said,’ “VIN number” is redundant.’

    Hmmmmmmmm…..

  9. Floyd says:

    #39: Well, duh. “VIN” is the “Vehicle Identity Number.”

    We need more identification…
    “Paranoia strikes deep. Into your life it will creep.”

  10. Micromike says:

    If you don’t physically remove the equipment from the vehicle they are still tracking you and selling your whereabouts to all bidders.

    With cell phones it is the phone company that keeps permanent records of your location 24/7. Apple gets all the publicity but it is the phone company ratting you out to law enforcement and Homeland Insecurity. With the Phone company on their side they don’t have to have your phone to know where you have been since you got the account with the cell company.

  11. bobbo, the evangelical anti-theist says:

    Along with the protest music of the ”60’s we also get the anti-establishment movies of the 60’s! “Our Man Flint” where I think the FBI Agents were actually working for Ma Bell Automatrons?

    I do wish we would bring the draft back. Its the only “real” democracy we have in this country——“by” the people.

    The people will not fight ill conceived wars running up the debt to do so. Imagine that? And so far anyway with few exceptions, the regulars won’t fire on an unarmed mob?

    What do we want???—-REVOLUTION!!!!!!
    When do we want it???—-NOW!!!!!!

    —-without the draft, the only demoncratic action is to petition your local congress creep by way of donation to pass a law requiring NetFlix to keep their services bundled?

    Yea, verily: VOTE ALL CAMPAIGN CONTRIBUTION TAKING NON TAX RAISING DOGMATIC SHILLS OUT OF OFFICE. For those of you slow on the draw, that “actually” would be all of them.

    Then only the individually SuperRich could actually run for office. Maybe thats the way it should be===out and in the open.

  12. GregAllen says:

    Thanks MikeN and Animby for the response.

    So, if you are at fault in a wreck, having OnStar could get you convicted or successfully sued.

    A GOP enabled phone could do the same but OnStar would probably have a lot more data — like, let’s say, prove that you were not maintaining your tires properly, leading to the blow-out.

    I’m not worried but it’s worth knowing.

  13. GregAllen says:

    >> # 35 JimD said,
    >> Corporations are DRIVING THE FASCIST STATE !!!
    >> The Government is just another “client” !!!

    This is my main complaint about the Libertarians. I applaud their stand against fascism but not one seems to have noticed that the fascists have changed.

    Now the Libertarians want to sell our commons at fire sale prices to the enemies of our freedom.

  14. President Amabo says:

    #43 – Greg, It’s not just OnStar. Many modern vehicles have black boxes in them.

    The Feds are considering making them mandatory.

    http://wired.com/autopia/2011/05/automotive-black-boxes/

  15. Animby says:

    # 43 GregAllen said, “A GOP enabled phone could do the same”

    Freudian slip or subliminal message???

  16. jescott418 says:

    Brought to you by Government Motors! Who did not see this coming?
    The little snitch in your car!

  17. Daikyozin says:

    This is sick. And it will continue until they have equipped all cars sufficiently to charge us per mile for using the roads. Or is this happening already in Europe?
    And as has been mentioned before, Progressive is trying to sucker people into getting black boxed voluntarily to get a discount on insurance.


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