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OnStar Terms and Conditions Update Raises Privacy Concerns 185

Posted by Soulskill
from the we-don't-need-this-kind-of-help dept.
PainMeds writes "An article by author Jonathan Zdziarski reveals that OnStar has recently updated their terms and conditions to allow the company to sell customer GPS coordinates, vehicle speed, and other information to third party marketers and analytics companies, where it could be used for a number of nefarious purposes. He says, 'To add insult to a slap in the face, the company insists they will continue collecting and selling this personal information even after you cancel your service, unless you specifically shut down the data connection to the vehicle after canceling. ... 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?"
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OnStar Terms and Conditions Update Raises Privacy Concerns

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  • by Frosty Piss (770223) * on Tuesday September 20, 2011 @10:14PM (#37463526)

    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.

    Nothing like wild baseless speculation that trashes Slashdot's hated mega-corporation du jour...

    Anyway, why would they sell such a huge profit center?

    • Re:Oh please... (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 20, 2011 @10:16PM (#37463544)

      Yeah.....Hell, I bet they'll make a fortune selling the information to your car insurance's marketing department so that they'll know how to target you to sell you more insurance and raise your premium.

      • Re:Oh please... (Score:5, Interesting)

        by theshowmecanuck (703852) on Wednesday September 21, 2011 @06:58AM (#37465990) Journal

        I used to work for a company that makes and is marketing a GPS tracking system exactly for this purpose. It includes their proprietary GPS tracking device and firmware, and server side software to store the data and do preliminary analysis (but the insurance companies mostly just care about the raw data and will do their own processing). And the insurance companies are very interested in buying data on where and how you drive. So this is pretty much a sure bet. I have to say that I wasn't very comfortable working for a company making 'big brother' devices.

        Another use for this kind of data is for road charging programs for the government. Governments get a lot of their money for upkeep of the roadways from fuel taxes. But as fuel economy goes up, the relative tax revenue for miles driven (which translates to wear and tear on the roads) goes down. So many governments are looking to charging for road use. i.e. pay for the amount of miles/kilometers driven, based on the type of road (expressway, interstate/motorway, two lane blacktop, city cores, etc), time of day (peak/off peak hours), and type of vehicle. Something like Onstar technology fits in nicely with this too.

    • by macraig (621737) <mark.a.craigNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Tuesday September 20, 2011 @10:50PM (#37463806)

      The fact that OnStar took pains to alter their ToS in this specific fashion means that they're clearly thinking about it and perhaps even planning to do it. The INTENT is clearly stated, and intent is all that matters. Since OnStar intends to make such a thing legally and technically feasible, they can't be trusted NOT to do it.

    • by Sperbels (1008585) on Tuesday September 20, 2011 @11:00PM (#37463880)

      Nothing like wild baseless speculation that trashes Slashdot's hated mega-corporation du jour...

      You don't think your insurance company would buy a record of your driving habits? Including what roads you traveled on and what speed you were going? Seriously? You really don't think they'd be interested in that information? I'm not being paranoid. You're being naive.

    • Re:Oh please... (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Jane Q. Public (1010737) on Tuesday September 20, 2011 @11:31PM (#37464062)
      I used to work in the IT end of the insurance industry, and believe me, data is their bread and butter. Insurance companies would love to have something like this.

      I also have to agree with the other posters: as we have seen in recent years with TOS from Facebook, Google and others, if it's in there, they're probably going to do it. They don't hire lawyers to put that stuff in there for no reason... it isn't worded in such a way that it would really cover their asses for any liability, if they DON'T do it. So then... why else is it there?

      Third, "anonymized" data, as we know very well by now, does not guarantee privacy. Especially location data. If you know where somebody lives, it should be easy to follow their movements with that data, anonymized or not.

      And finally: after all these years, I get to say "I told you so" to the people who got OnStar. After all, it's not as though this wasn't foreseen by a lot of people.
    • by mbkennel (97636) on Wednesday September 21, 2011 @04:41AM (#37465472)

      "Anyway, why would they sell such a huge profit center?"

      Because they can make lots and lots of money by selling unique, valuable data to companies who have more capability in extracting money from data.

  • by msauve (701917) on Tuesday September 20, 2011 @10:16PM (#37463532)
    "they will continue collecting and selling this personal information even after you cancel your service"

    I wish I were a class-action lawyer, because this is retirement material. I understand that GM has money again.
  • And? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by EdIII (1114411) on Tuesday September 20, 2011 @10:16PM (#37463536)

    Do you trust such companies with unfettered access to the entire GPS history of your vehicle?

    Of course I don't. I don't own a vehicle that has the ability to be shut off remotely either, because I don't trust a company or the systems with something that important. I would not trust the electric company with my refrigerator either. The very fact the control exists with a 3rd party is unacceptable.

    If you are worried about being tracked, OnStar is the least of your concerns. It applies to a single source of data that is not always with you.

    Anybody that really cares about this should wonder what data is being collected with your smart phones, etc. Verizon can track you better than OnStar ever could.

    All of your devices with their own dedicated data connections also track you far better. Sprint HotSpot? Those things can track you just like a cell phone too.

    The only thing surprising about this is that OnStar tried slipping it into the TOS, except just selling the data anyways with some legal sleight of hand.

    • by chispito (1870390) on Tuesday September 20, 2011 @10:28PM (#37463652)

      I would not trust the electric company with my refrigerator either.

      I hate to break it to you, but unless you generate your own power, the electric company can still shut off your refrigerator.

      • by EdIII (1114411) on Tuesday September 20, 2011 @10:48PM (#37463788)

        Uhhhhhh... okay.

        1) The electric company cannot shut off my refrigerator. They can only shut off *everything* in my house. It is a blunt dull instrument, not a precision tool.
        2) I was referring to an extension of the levels of control that electric companies are trying to do right now, most notably with air conditioning. That does not have to be limited to that with a smart grid, and smart monitors/outlets in the house.

        The electric company would be far less nefarious of course. Ostensibly, it is to rate throttle, prevent brownouts, and increase efficiency. All good green initiatives if you want to cooperate. I would not give them control over any of it, because I don't trust them to do it correctly. That, and at any one time, a refrigerator probably has at least $75 worth of food in it. Too risky. My beer might get warm.

        • by black6host (469985) on Wednesday September 21, 2011 @12:22AM (#37464306)

          The electric company would be far less nefarious of course. Ostensibly, it is to rate throttle, prevent brownouts, and increase efficiency. All good green initiatives if you want to cooperate. I would not give them control over any of it, because I don't trust them to do it correctly. That, and at any one time, a refrigerator probably has at least $75 worth of food in it. Too risky. My beer might get warm.

          I will most definitely agree with your sentiment about warm beer :) However, we participated in such a program in Florida and it worked well. No warm beer. No A/C not running (and it always needs to in all but a few months) We felt no impact at all. What we did experience was a decrease in our electric bill, albeit not a large one. It was a good trade off in my opinion. I think the targeted appliance was the hot water heater. And having a hot shower was not a problem.

          • by ConfusedVorlon (657247) on Wednesday September 21, 2011 @06:11AM (#37465850) Homepage

            the smart meter business is backwards.

            rather than letting the electricity company switch things off - let them publish rate info electronically.

            e.g. 6.00pm to 6.01pm high rate
            6.01pm to 6.02pm low rate

            then you can have a server in your home which makes decisions where you control the params.
            switch it onto 'don't give a damn' mode 'super green' mode or 'minimum bill' mode

            it can broadcast info on your local power net (power cables can easily carry info) saying things like 'shut down now for a minute if it isn't critical' 'really shut down now' or 'do your heavy lifting now' and the devices can react accordingly.

      • by RobbieThe1st (1977364) on Tuesday September 20, 2011 @10:53PM (#37463830)

        But, and this is the OP's point, the electric company is the equivalent of a "common carrier": It can shut off power to *all* of your stuff, or none. It can't choose to shut off power to X or Y, which it *could* with a smart control.

        • by jonbryce (703250) on Wednesday September 21, 2011 @06:26AM (#37465894) Homepage

          Some electric companies supply a second interruptible circuit with cheaper electricity. In a previous house I lived in, I had a stored heat circuit to power electric storage heaters. The heaters were switched on for 7 hours per day at times of the electric company's choosing. It cost about 2p/kWh vs about 7p/kWh for the other circuit. This was about 12 years ago, prices for both circuits will be much higher now.

    • by Uksi (68751) on Tuesday September 20, 2011 @10:46PM (#37463768) Homepage

      Verizon/AT&T probably do not keep historical data, even if they can pinpoint my location at law enforcement's request.

      The problem is that we have traffic laws with unrealistic speed limits in this country, towns that will raise revenue through ticket writing and red light cameras, all now with access to your OnStar data without your consent or a warrant. Drivers that go with the flow of traffic are safer due to a smaller speed differential--but your insurance company may be glad to force you to do 65 on a road designed for 75mph in the 70's (MassPike) or 55 on a newly widened 3-lane widely-divided highway (rt 3 Greater Boston).

      towns shorten yellow lights to get more red light tickets--increase in rear-end accidents be damned. Wouldn't it be nice to corroborate that data with the onstar gps log?

      • by EdIII (1114411) on Tuesday September 20, 2011 @11:00PM (#37463876)

        Verizon/AT&T probably do not keep historical data, even if they can pinpoint my location at law enforcement's request.

        There was a posted article about this awhile ago. Verizon most certainly does keep historical data. Law enforcement was trying to get access to it without a warrant for a specific ~150 day period. They did not even specify what period it was, implying that Verizon has access to even longer historical logs than we thought, or is even implied.

        If Verizon did not maintain the data why:

        1) Was law enforcement requesting it?
        2) Why did Verizon not immediately state that compliance was impossible since they did not possess it?
        3) That articles about either 1 or 2 have not been making the rounds yet?
        4) The original article did not already contain Verizon's response to the court?

    • Re:And? (Score:4, Informative)

      by inviolet (797804) <slashdot@ideasma ... g minus caffeine> on Tuesday September 20, 2011 @11:39PM (#37464114) Journal

      It gets worse.

      On at least one occasion, OnStar allowed police to secretly listen in to a car's cabin in order to gather evidence for a drug conviction. Start here [thetruthaboutcars.com].

      • by SmurfButcher Bob (313810) on Wednesday September 21, 2011 @11:36AM (#37468958) Journal

        That's nothing.

        I have a scanner in my office, to hear what's happening in the county on fire and police bands. Probably 4? years ago, city dispatch alerted a police officer that a "reported suspicious vehicle" would soon be passing his location on the interstate. "Onstar says the driver normally exits at Geddes Street, will hang a right onto Belden Ave, and normally parks with the engine running, in the 1200 block of West Belden Ave."

        I wouldn't have paid much attention, except for that whole "normally" thing. And I'm not sure about police parlance, but "reported suspicious vehicle" does not carry the same "due process" implication as "suspect" or "suspect vehicle". Regardless, time passed and the rest was a fairly predictable outcome:

        "Onstar says the car has stopped and has just been put into park in front of xxx Belden Ave, doors have not been opened yet. They want to know if you want them to flash any lights for you."

        "Normally". What an interesting word.

    • by drinkypoo (153816) <martin.espinoza@gmail.com> on Wednesday September 21, 2011 @07:13AM (#37466062) Homepage Journal

      The only thing surprising is that nothing they can put in the ToS gives them a legal right to track you when your contract ends. At that point there is no longer a contractual relationship and they are simply spying on you. Since it has been widely acknowledged that people don't read contracts, it's not reasonable to assume that someone would have read it in the detail necessary to discover something so unreasonable buried in the legalese, and in any case, contracts can't trump the law anyway.

    • by GameboyRMH (1153867) <gameboyrmh AT gmail DOT com> on Wednesday September 21, 2011 @10:20AM (#37467996) Journal

      True, whenever your cell phone's on, you're being tracked. Just keep that in mind everyone.

  • by morari (1080535) on Tuesday September 20, 2011 @10:16PM (#37463538) Journal

    OnStar is just now raising privacy concerns?

    • by IMightB (533307) on Tuesday September 20, 2011 @10:33PM (#37463692) Journal

      No kidding, if you didn't see this one coming you're either extremely naive or been sticking your head in the sand intentionally.

      • by alcourt (198386) on Tuesday September 20, 2011 @10:47PM (#37463778)

        Last time I shopped for a car, I told the dealer that disabling the interface so it couldn't be activated remotely was a deal breaker. Manager came over and on a demo car showed how in two minutes they could remove the antenna and attach a cosmetic cover where the antenna used to be. That was about four years ago. Even then, it was known that the service was being activated to monitor position without permission of the owner.

        • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 21, 2011 @01:12AM (#37464538)

          I went into a GM dealer and asked about this. You can no longer pull the antenna (it's integrated into some non-removable component), nor can you disable the onstar computer, as it is tightly integrated into the drive train computer.

    • by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Tuesday September 20, 2011 @10:58PM (#37463856) Journal

      OnStar is just now raising privacy concerns?

      OnStar has always been just short of the imaginary-cia-mind-control-chips in terms of potential privacy concerns. Now they've gone and updated their privacy policy to read, essentially, "We own you, sucker." it becomes only reasonable to suspect the actualization of those concerns.

      It's not like some privacy policy was ever likely worth the shrinkwrap it was printed on; particularly if feds are sniffing around; but you pretty much have to assume the worst when somebody goes and publicly guts such a toothless instrument...

      • by rta (559125) on Wednesday September 21, 2011 @12:10AM (#37464254)

        This is the thread i'm "voting" in. OnStar was ALWAYS creepy. If there was ever any doubt then the commercial a few years ago about their remote disable that shut down the "stolen" SUV on the highway should have struck fear into the heart of any red-blooded nerd.

  • by kid_wonder (21480) <public AT kscottklein DOT com> on Tuesday September 20, 2011 @10:21PM (#37463576) Homepage

    AT&T violates its customers privacy

    AT&T is a telecommunications company

    Telecommunication is the transmission of information over significant distances to communicate.

    OnStar is a telecommunications company

    Therefore, OnStar violates its customers privacy

  • by nurb432 (527695) on Tuesday September 20, 2011 @10:21PM (#37463584) Homepage Journal

    Can you even disconnect it from your car if it comes built in, without paying someone at the least ( or rendering parts of your car non operational at worst )?

  • Open Source Project (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 20, 2011 @10:40PM (#37463736)

    Has anyone hacked their car to spoof OnStar packets and send them assloads of chaff? I don't see anywhere in the contract where it says you can't send them any GPS coordinates you want. Success will be measured by the number of OnStar-equipped vehicles shown to be commuting across the Atlantic Ocean on a regular basis. Why yes, I believe my vehicle is currently somewhere in Afghanistan. The bloke said he had lots of important packages he needed to deliver. He seems like a nice guy and always returns it when he's done doing whatever he does with it. Even rolls back the odometer for me. Why do you ask?

  • by benjamindees (441808) on Tuesday September 20, 2011 @10:52PM (#37463820) Homepage

    Of course this is the reason that the US gov't required GM to make OnStar standard equipment as part of the auto industry bailouts. Anyone who didn't see this coming deserves to be tagged and tracked like the sheeple they are.

  • by dwreid (966865) on Tuesday September 20, 2011 @10:54PM (#37463840)
    I just received a notice from State Farm Insurance that if I allow them to collect OnStar data I "MIGHT" get a discount on my insurance. Uhhh... yeah... I'll be sure to do that. (NOT) I'm fairly certain that this is only the tip of the iceberg. How long before the car automatically calls the police when you exceed the speed limit?
    • by Stormy Dragon (800799) on Tuesday September 20, 2011 @11:21PM (#37464002) Homepage

      That won't happen actually. If there was ever full proof speeding detection, people would stop speeding, costing the government revenue. Any operational speeding detection system will miss 90% of the occurences so that people keep speeding and paying occasional tickets.

    • by Thagg (9904) <thadbeier@gmail.com> on Tuesday September 20, 2011 @11:51PM (#37464160) Journal

      Progressive Insurance is busy flogging their "Snapshot" [progressive.com]system, which is exactly that. They give you a tracking device, and you put it in your car, and if you are the "good" driver you say that you are you get a discount in your insurance. I'd love to see the TOS on that baby.

      • by sunderland56 (621843) on Wednesday September 21, 2011 @12:08AM (#37464236)
        Does anyone know exactly what data the Snapshot collects?

        I can see it tracking vehicle speed, for instance - but it can't tell whether I took that offramp at 40 MPH normally, or sliding sideways with the rear tyres smoking. And unless it has an accurate GPS, it can't tell if I was doing 65 on the interstate, or in a school zone.
        • by jtownatpunk.net (245670) on Wednesday September 21, 2011 @02:02AM (#37464790)

          Depends on what they tap into. There's a lot of data available from a simple ODBII connection. Speed, throttle position, manifold pressure, turbo/supercharger boost, water temp, air intake temp, battery voltage, fuel consumption rate, fuel pressure, engine load, etc. And a GPS can easily locate you with sufficient precision to determine whether you were on an interstate or a school zone. They can also throw in an accelerometer to figure out that "drifting" thing when combined with the other data.

    • by Required Snark (1702878) on Tuesday September 20, 2011 @11:57PM (#37464190)
      The obvious next step is that you cannot have car insurance without some kind of automatic data collection. It won't be the law that requires this, but the corporations that now own you. An you can just change insurance plans if you don't like it, but either you will not be able to find an alternative, or the replacement will be horribly expensive and useless. (Just see how health insurance works for and example.) And without car insurance you can't drive in many states.

      You want to see how far this can go? In California you now have to give health insurance companies direct access to your bank account or they will cancel your policy. No credit card payments allowed.

      http://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-lazarus-20110920,0,2211923.column [latimes.com]

      It wasn't doomsday. It was just an example of a major corporation turning the screws on a customer to get what it wanted.

      In this case, what it wanted was access to Kreuzhage's checking account, rather than her credit card account.

      Anthem announced a few months ago that it planned to stop allowing members to automatically pay their bills by credit card. For those still wanting to use plastic, they could call a service rep each month and give their card number over the phone, although this would entail a $15 "convenience fee."

      ...

      Sure, you can still pay by credit card. But you have to remember to call in every month to do so. If you forget, your coverage can disappear.

      Kreuzhage, for one, has learned her lesson. She's forked over the checking account number that Anthem wanted all along and now approaches her health insurance with a renewed sense of humility.

      "If this is how they treat me when things are perfect, when I file no claims, how are they going to treat me if I ever have a serious medical problem?" Kreuzhage asked.

      And big companies never make billing mistakes. Even in those rare occasions when they do, it's always fixed right away. So, for example, if due to a billing error they clean out your account and you miss insurance payments or mortgage payments they'll fix everything like it never happened. And I have some major bridges in New York and San Francisco that I can sell you real cheap.

      • by Bucc5062 (856482) <bucc5062@gmaiMONETl.com minus painter> on Wednesday September 21, 2011 @07:53AM (#37466240)

        Okay, in general that is not a good policy, but there is at least one way to protect yourself. Open up another checking account then have the credit card make deposits once a month. This way the monthly routine is handled almost the same way. I did not see anything that required a minimum balance. IT also means that if there is a "computing error", only that account is effected and if the balance is zero except the day before payment there is little the company can do, but contact your for money.

        I am fortunate that I have a bank which provides free checking accounts. I set these up just for this reason so that my primary deposit account is separated from much of my activity.

      • by nosferatu1001 (264446) on Wednesday September 21, 2011 @09:04AM (#37466922)

        Its why we have the Direct Debit g'tee system in the UK: if they clean your account out, both your bank AND the company have to make good, on absolutely everything they have stuffed up.

  • by Jarik C-Bol (894741) on Tuesday September 20, 2011 @10:57PM (#37463854)
    My real question in all of this is, Who is asking for this information? It seems to me, that time and time again, Company X or Company Y updates its TOS, or has some flaw in software that reveals that they are gathering personal information, for 'sale to third parties' or the slightly less unsettling 'Company X will in no way make this information available to third parties'.
    On the surface, the claim is that it is to provide a better service down the road, or to provide more targeted ad's or in some way improve the customer experience in some bizarre and personal way.
    The real problem is, Time and time again when this comes out, We, the Customers, seem to resoundingly land on the side of 'don't watch me!' which begs the question: 'What market research idiot keeps thinking this is a good idea?'
    The overwhelming sense i get from public response to this sort of thing is that we are not interested in targeted ad's, we do not want the commercials on our TV to say our names, and we don't want our driving directions to take us past some dry cleaners, just because we googled it last week. Now, I'm not an idiot, and realize that most companies will ignore their customers as long as possible, as long as they still make a profit, but you have to expect there to be some kind of limit, where someone finally steps back and says 'holy shit, people are going to HATE this!'
    • by sunderland56 (621843) on Wednesday September 21, 2011 @12:11AM (#37464266)

      My real question in all of this is, Who is asking for this information?

      Google would like to know where the traffic jams are. Stores would like to know who drives by and does not stop. Your insurance company would like to know how fast you are driving. The police would like to know who was driving away from the bar at closing time. And your wife's divorce lawyer would like to know where you were late Tuesday night.

  • by U8MyData (1281010) on Tuesday September 20, 2011 @11:08PM (#37463928)
    ...we as consumers need an updated and ironclad consumer protection act, period. These companies have us over a barrel and there is virtually nothing we can do about it. IP tracking, cell phone records, OnStar tracking and marketing of consumer data where will it stop? More importantly, if it doesn't stop which is a very real likelyhood, where will it lead? Technology finally, if it hasn't already, is showing it's ugly face.
  • by kawabago (551139) on Tuesday September 20, 2011 @11:24PM (#37464018)
    Stalking laws should be amended to include collecting this kind of information by anyone.
  • by kurt555gs (309278) <kurt555gs@@@ovi...com> on Wednesday September 21, 2011 @12:19AM (#37464290) Homepage

    Facebook disease has spread to Slashdot!

    The world will soon end.

  • by Sooner Boomer (96864) <sooner.boomrNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Wednesday September 21, 2011 @12:36AM (#37464402) Journal

    From http://wnd.ha-hosting.com/index.php?fa=PAGE.view&pageId=346997 [ha-hosting.com]

    "Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., and Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, have introduced the truly patriotic Geolocation Privacy and Surveillance Act, supported by the ACLU, that "requires the government to show probable cause and get a warrant before acquiring the geolocational information of a U.S. person."

    This would apply, among other forms of such tracking, to cell phones. It would also require telecommunications companies (including providers of cell phones) to get our consent to collect data from locations where we use them. Where do we go with cell phones in our ears? These companies, without telling us, already convey this location information to the FBI without our knowing we're being tracked as we talk. "

  • by xenobyte (446878) on Wednesday September 21, 2011 @03:06AM (#37465054)

    Do you trust such companies with unfettered access to the entire GPS history of your vehicle?

    No, I trust nobody with something like that.

    Not only are they making profit from something deeply private, but the data can easily be abused in a number of ways. It might be that you happened to be in an area where something bad happened, and right away you're a suspect just because you were in the area. You stand out because someone can document that you were there. They're not documenting that you did something wrong but the very thing that you were there, makes you a suspect.in particular compared to others who were also there but whose location wasn't documented.

    We already see a similar issue with DNA profiles. The initial (quick) profile only uses a handful markers and they're not all that unique. A typical crime scene sample will yield dozens of partial matches, also due to it like being slightly contaminated which lowers the match probability. You then have to seek out all the partial matches and review them, probably interview them and perhaps detain one or two. And you still have the very likely possibility that the perpetrator isn't in the register at all.

    After a few weeks the full profile is available and you'll most likely either have the perpetrator or realize that you don't. Now, having spent weeks in jail, suspected of some evil crime, you might get completely exonerated and probably financially compensated, but you'll carry that branding of 'criminal' forever, and that can never be removed. Usually there's nothing to suspect you other than the DNA matching, but DNA is such a strong piece of evidence that it in itself usually is enough to get you thrown in jail.

  • by hrvatska (790627) on Wednesday September 21, 2011 @04:24AM (#37465404)
    Could this data be purchased by police departments to issue speeding tickets? Is there any legal impediment to using this data by a government entity for any purpose? If they can use it for enforcement of speed limits it seems like it would be a gold mine for any municipality that had an interstate passing through it. OnStar could even ask for a cut of the fines.
  • by kenh (9056) on Wednesday September 21, 2011 @06:53AM (#37465970) Homepage Journal

    I don't think the value of this data is tied to the fact they know a particular car belongs to a certain person, I think their plan is to try and sell traffic congestion information to GPS companies for real-time updates on route times.

    While there could be a lot of money in the 'Where did my cheating husband go with his Corvette last night when he said he was working late?' market, I'm not sure how OnStar could advertise such a service and then sell cars to philanderers and criminals. On the other hand, it would make a heck of a lojack alternative!

  • by ThatsNotPudding (1045640) on Wednesday September 21, 2011 @07:56AM (#37466262)
    Before congressional whores kept by the insurance companies require boxes that collect and transmit all data including speed and position back to corporate and tax HQs. The great migration from the Dust Bowl to California in the 1930s will never happen again, as you (and your debts) will be tracked in real time in perpetuity. #USAUSAUSA
  • Fitting (Score:4, Interesting)

    by 2names (531755) on Wednesday September 21, 2011 @11:12AM (#37468670)

    My uncle has a country place
    That no one knows about.
    He says it used to be a farm,
    Before the Motor Law.
    And on Sundays I elude the Eyes,
    And hop the Turbine Freight
    To far outside the Wire,
    Where my white-haired uncle waits.

    Jump to the ground
    As the Turbo slows to cross the Borderline.
    Run like the wind,
    As excitement shivers up and down my spine.
    Down in his barn,
    My uncle preserved for me an old machine,
    For fifty-odd years.
    To keep it as new has been his dearest dream.

    I strip away the old debris
    That hides a shining car.
    A brilliant red Barchetta
    From a better, vanished time.
    I fire up the willing engine,
    Responding with a roar.
    Tires spitting gravel,
    I commit my weekly crime...

    Wind-
    In my hair-
    Shifting and drifting-
    Mechanical music-
    Adrenalin surge...

    Well-weathered leather,
    Hot metal and oil,
    The scented country air.
    Sunlight on chrome,
    The blur of the landscape,
    Every nerve aware.

    Suddenly ahead of me,
    Across the mountainside,
    A gleaming alloy air-car
    Shoots towards me, two lanes wide.
    I spin around with shrieking tires,
    To run the deadly race,
    Go screaming through the valley
    As another joins the chase.

    Drive like the wind,
    Straining the limits of machine and man.
    Laughing out loud
    With fear and hope, I've got a desperate plan.
    At the one-lane bridge
    I leave the giants stranded at the riverside.
    Race back to the farm, to dream with my uncle at the fireside

    - Rush, Red Barchetta, Moving Pictures

  • by DCFusor (1763438) on Wednesday September 21, 2011 @11:31AM (#37468906) Homepage
    So, can a party to a contract unilaterally change the terms and not have to allow the contract to be canceled? Yeah, the thing is trivial to disable (supposedly), but I have long term paid up front, and lotsa minutes on the phone. Would they let me keep the phone but ditch the onstar and tracking? Is that even possible? I suppose I'll have to go out and push the button and ask. Seems like a Netflix moment for them at this point and the only way to get them to say "I messed up" is going to be a lot of cancellations that demand repayment of money already given them.

I'd rather just believe that it's done by little elves running around.

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