This week, OnStar sent communication to subscribers informing them that the changes to its terms of service outlined last month and due to take effect December 1 will not, in fact, go into effect.
The GM subsidiary subsequently announced plans to reverse the Terms of Service just a few days after announcing plans to change them.
The letter to customers reads as follows:
Recently we notified you that effective December 1, 2011, OnStar’s¹ Terms and Conditions and Privacy Statement would be amended, and we provided a summary of those proposed changes along with the proposed Terms and Conditions and Privacy Statement for your review.
Based on feedback we have received, however, OnStar is not moving forward with those changes. Therefore, the Terms and Conditions and Privacy Statement that were in effect before we sent our notification to you will remain in effect. We apologize for any confusion or concern that this proposed update may have caused.
We appreciate your business and look forward to continuing to serve you as an OnStar customer.
There were two major changes to the Terms and Conditions that didn’t sit well with customers: the first was OnStar giving itself permission to collect and sell personal, yet anonymous, information to third parties about the vehicle, including location, seat belt usage, speed, and other particulars. The second change involved OnStar continuing to collect information after the subscriber cancelled their service, since the two-way data connection between the vehicle and OnStar is still in place. The customer would have to specifically request to disable the data connection to cease the hoarding of data.
The GM Authority Take
According to OnStar President Linda Marshall, maintaining a data connection to the vehicle after the service has been cancelled “would have allowed OnStar to provide former customers with urgent information about natural disasters” as well as “recalls affecting their vehicles even after canceling their service. It also would have helped in planning future services.”
Personally, I don’t see anything wrong with this. In fact, the revised TOS would have helped drivers of vehicles with outstanding recalls while informing those in the vicinity of natural disasters of potential dangers… for free.
As far as the data collection bit is concerned, the data would have been collected anonymously… as in privacy would still be maintained.
The kind of panicked response from subscribers to the TOS changes seem to have placed ideology ahead of reality. Make of that what you will.
Hat tip to Rob A.