OnStar Buckles Under Pressure and Reverses Privacy Policy Change

Paul Lilly

Good news for OnStar subscribers unhappy with the GPS and emergency response service's recent proposed policy change , the one in which OnStar said it will continue to track and collect data from customers even after cancelling their subscriptions. Amid mounting pressure from U.S. senators, angry customers, and privacy advocates alike, Onstar has applied the breaks to its privacy policy change and is reversing course.

"We realize that our proposed amendments did not satisfy our subscribers," OnStar President Linda Marshall said . "This is why we are leaving the decision in our customers' hands. We listened, we responded, and we hope to maintain the trust of our more than 6 million customers."

When OnStar announced the proposed policy change, the company insisted it didn't plan on selling data from cancelled accounts, but wanted the option to do so. Now OnStar says that if it ever offers the option to maintain a data connection after service cancellation, it would be opt-in.

"Maintaining the data connection would have allowed OnStar to provide customers with urgent information about natural disasters and recalls affecting their vehicles even after cancelling their service. It also would have helped in planning future services," Marshall said.

OnStar's sudden reversal comes after U.S. Senator Charles Schumer (D-New York) implored the Federal Trade Commission to launch an investigation over "one of the most brazen invasions of privacy in recent memory." Senators Chris Coons (D-Delaware) and Al Franken (D-Minnesota) were also critical of OnStar's proposed policy change.

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