General Motors's subsidiary, OnStar, is now the one getting tracked by some Congressional leaders after a controversial e-mail it sent out to customers earlier this month.
OnStar disclosed to customers that starting December 1, it will be tracking the movements of its customers for data-mining purposes. That includes former customers. So, even if you cancel your subscription to OnStar services; it plans to track your every turn and detour for milk for the purposes of selling marketing data to third parties.
In fact, it is more than tracking locations. It also includes tracking vehicle diagnostics. OnStar wants to collect data when its customers and former customers are changing their oil, checking their tires, and filling up their tanks. Like we don't get enough Meineke circulars as is.
OnStar argues this is okay because the data will be aggregated making individual data anonymous.
Democratic Senators Chris Coons, Al Franken, and Chuck Schumer beg to differ. Coons and Franken have written a letter to OnStar condemining the practice as a basic violation of privacy. Schumer is asking the Federal Trade Commission to investigate.
OnStar is offering an opt-out option by phone. However, it is only by phone and not also offered online. It's interesting to me that the company they informed customers by e-mail, but can't offer a link at the bottom of the e-mail to opt out on the website.
Or better yet, how about leaving it to customers to opt-in?
Last updated: Sep 27, 2011
RENEE ORICCHIO is a technology writer and former supervising news producer for CNN Financial News. She has been covering the computer industry since 1987. @oricchio