If they aren't doing this -- that is, if they are observing and ignoring wrecks -- then I hope that someone starts a class action.
"In the United States, as of 2009 ten states had laws on the books requiring that people at least notify law enforcement of and/or seek aid for strangers in peril..."
Second, even if the law were as you said it was, a class action would only be appropriate among people who have actually been in wrecks after the most recent change in terms and conditions --- people who have not crashed have suffered no harm from the alleged policy.
The short version is that Wikipedia is notoriously bad about law because it is largely written by non-lawyers; often it describes the law as Wiki editors _want_ it to be, rather than how it _is_.
 Usefully condensed here: http://volokh.com/2009/11/03/duty-to-rescuereport-statutes/
Nevertheless, it seems unethical for OnStar to profit off human suffering when they are in a position to assist -- I suspect their crash statistics are among the most profitable data they collect.
True, but lawyers do that too at times.
They seems to have no issue broadly interpreting laws.
IANAL, IANAD, but the "collecting data without analyzing data" argument still seems pretty flimsy.
A common step in police investigations today is to secure a court
order tracking the movements of a suspect or anyone else whose
location the police believe useful. The flip side of this
powerful tool, though, is how revealing and intrusive it is. Few
people would be comfortable being followed by a police officer
all day, even if they did nothing illegal or even interesting.
Justice Brandeis once invoked the "right to be let alone," and
undetectable location tracking pressures the alone part: No one
is "let alone" if the police may, without notice or probable
cause, find out everywhere they go for a day or a month.
I can't speak as to what OnStar actually does with this data, but I CAN tell you that GM wants to use it as a platform for the best customer service platform in the business.
Imagine that the "marketing" they do with this data is something like selling it to dealerships ("affiliates"); the marketing call being something like "Hi Mr. Smith, we noticed your fuel pump is going bad. You pass by our Main St. service center daily; would you like to schedule an appointment?"
They could also "sell" that data to GM engineering, to make future (or current, through controls software updates) products better.
you don't think that would freak most people out?
The epiphany is as follows:
1. There are a lot of people with very negative views of corporations roaming around the internet
2. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Confirmation_bias will cause them to view goodhearted actions in a negative light, and genuinely think they're right
3. Therefore an important goal of PR is to include falsification ammunition alongside announcements that are likely to be misunderstood
Less abstract breakdown:
It's pretty clear that most people would prefer a car that instead of just saying "please find someone to fix my xyz" says "please find someone to fix my xyz, and fyi Foo Dealership will likely be the most convenient" -- maybe my friends and I are just lazier than average, but that actually sounds great for me, and I could see several friends really appreciate not having to spend the time picking out a repair shop. This is especially true if they handle figuring out who is certified to do warranty covered repair work.
So GM likely thinks of this sort of application as a small to medium win: GM cars are somewhat less hassle to own, and maybe last a bit longer on average / get a higher average resell value because people are getting things repaired sooner rather than later.
However, because people will think "oh, they're just doing it for the sale" (which they are in this case, just not the one-shot-sale but instead the generations long brand building approach), GM should announce both at the same time, and include a few points that obviously invalidate the fly-by-night opinion -- Do they recommend places based on Yelp reviews + distance? Do they even take money from repair shops when recommending? Do they use wait times and the urgency of the repair as the primary criteria?
Basically if GM included some answers to questions like the above as ammunition, then when journalists / analysts / online message board readers get in to arguments about this question, GM is significantly less likely to come out looking evil.
You can let the customer put 2 and 2 together.
I have been pretty happy with my vehicle, but it is stuff like this that makes me wish I was dealing with another company.
I might be OK with OnStar selling my data, if I get a piece of the action. Otherwise, what's the point? My job is not to further enrich these companies after I've purchased their product/service; they are making use of what is currently a free resource, my/yours/our data, and it's high time we started charging them for this privilege. They are essentially capturing economic rent, and it's really my income that they are capturing.
It's a free resource only for _them_, because they've already invested what they've invested. For you to get the same "free" resource, you'd have to pretty much make the same investment.
I'm not sure what the data retention laws are in US, but what I'd personally find reasonable would be a mandatory "opt-out" option for all such services. Not opt-in, mind you - there is a host of innovation waiting to happen once such data becomes available, and by far most of it will be positive.
Given their enthusiasm for ratting out costumers to the authorities, I would be concerned.
If I was an insurance company having to pay a claim. I could buy the GPS data, look at some anonymous GPS device that constantly goes to/fro the house of the person in the accident, followed by noticing that this person was speeding a few miles an hr and denying claims or claiming more responsibility, even if it is not warrented.
The flip side is that it can be a good thing. Funny thing about speed traps though... Guy gets pulled over for speeding 10mph above limit. Claims that hes moving with traffic (60mph). Gets ticket. 10 min later gets pulled over for creating traffic going 50mph, the speed limit, and gets off with a warning after showing the original ticket.
End of the day, this is very tricky, can be good and bad for society. However in the end OnStar is profiting so its not intended to help anyone but OnStar.
To apply the law equally, the driver can't provide a certificate of calibration for his GPS device so legally he's unable to prove that his GPS is giving an accurate speed measurement.
(As an aside, I don't think GPS would require any calibration anyway. If I understand it correctly, it'll pretty much either work or not work, with the accuracy of the output determined largely by atmospheric conditions and satellite geometry. The worry here would be deliberate tampering rather than calibration.)
But I agree that by far the more significant problem would be deliberate alterations to the data. It doesn't seem like it would be particularly hard to do so...
You're probably better off just paying the ticket.
Minor traffic offenses are civil, not criminal, so the much lower preponderence standard applies.
The court ruled against the FBI here, apparently not for anything related to privacy, but rather due to the fact that such surveillance could constitute an interruption in emergency services.
Note also that the decision is only binding in states that fall within the 9th Circuit's jurisdiction. (And no clue whether this decision applies also to local law enforcement; would assume that it does, but IANAL/LLE).
Not that Google and Apple [and Facebook] couldn't be on their way. I just think they both have competing agendas that will limit how awful they are with the data. People feeling Google and Appke are awful data companies are suffering badly from Familiarity bias.
The difference with a GM vehicle is that the customer knows the data is being recorded.
The most obvious one is when he mentions the boilerplate about a part of OnStar being sold, and then theorizes that they are actually planning to sell, perhaps even to one of those great boogeymen, Apple or Google.
Now how nefarious will that sale be? That is fairly subjective. But as others have pointed out, if you're carrying around a smart phone you may already be giving more information to folks than you care to. It reads like OnStar wants in on that gravy train.
I have seen such wording in a number of other TOSes so far, e.g. by Google :
One of the interesting techniques here is to make this change, get some heat (as they are) but then saying "Hey, its just boilerplate, we're not selling this stuff take a chill pill." And then 6 months or a year later, when everyone has forgotten the ruckus, do start selling the information, except that now since its pre-authorized by the ToS there is no 'lighthouse event' that goes up to alert the public to that fact.
A crusader would now start watching for news about OnStar partnering in six to nine months with someone who could use information about where people are, or where they go.
Edited because my slippery thumbs hit submit early.
After learning that the unnamed system could be remotely
activated to eavesdrop on conversations after a car was
reported stolen, the FBI realized it would be useful for
"bugging" a vehicle,
I mean of all the possible companies that might acquire this GPS data, it's not like Apple or Google already have copious amounts of GPS data on us. Is it?
If it were me, I'd pull the fuse or if necessary cut the wires to the transmitter.
Yup, the sparks when you short circuit can be spectacular (the car battery can provide quite a current), but the voltage can't kill you. It would suck if it could - high voltage cables all around you would make accidents very dangerous. The worst that could happen to you is burns from the wires getting hot.
I've been in a passenger in a car that had a short in the facia while driving - the car immediately filled with dense choking smoke and we nearly crashed. Scary stuff. This wasn't recently though - I hope the standards for in-car wiring have improved a lot over the years!
Sad that those are the only two things that will get this addressed, but it seems born-into corporate existence to poke and prod at the rules until someone slaps its hand.
EDIT: There are other ways to anonymize data than simply removing the name associated with data.
If one looks at a stream of location data over time, and sees the recurrence of a particular location in a residential area, particularly at night, then it can be pretty well surmised that this is your home. And from that, it's a trivial step to get your identity. And bingo, the anonymized data is now re-identified.
That would still be a very valuable dataset (for me at least), and almost completely free of PII.
Than again, I'm not an expert in these things; am I missing some way that this could be deanonymized?
In a city, that is probably anonymous. If you are in a rural area or drive along a route where your car makes up the majority of the data points, it still isn't.
But in a nutshell his point is that by its very nature GPS data collected over a constant time period cannot be anonymized. If your car is located >50% of the time in one of two places, chances are one is your home and one is your office. I now know where you live (and thus your identity) and I know where you work.
Everyone here is assuming anonymize means to remove name but keep everything else intact. I see no indication that this is the case. If there is reason to believe otherwise, point me in that direction.
for any purpose, at any time, provided that following collection
of such location and speed information identifiable to your Vehicle
He gave no evidence that they were not anonymizing the data properly,
he just assumed they were not.
EDIT: In response to parent edit and below comments
I have no proof of these, but factoids I believe to be true (so feel free to base a research paper on them :D)
1) To identify commuters: (Highway-Entrance-Location, Average-Highway-Entrance-Time, Highway-Exit-Location, Average-Highway-Exit-Time) -> some derived values: approximate (home,work), average speed, average driving aggression
2) Really, now that I think about it, any dataset where multiple gps tracks (for a single person) are tied together is out. If you can get any single Average-Location-at-Specific-Time data point, (plus point #3 below) you've reduced the unique set to quite small. Then you just stand on that street corner at that time (or, for the police, use the red light cameras...) and you're done.
3) This is an OnStar dataset we're talking about, so you're looking for GMC-manufactured cars, made in the last ~10 years (or whenever onstar started going into cars). I'm willing to bet that just that data point is enough to reduce any other lukewarm/weak de-anonymization to a solid match.
4) Anyone who buys onstar as an option is quite concerned with their safety at all costs (... my bias, I guess, since I consider it a waste of time), so look for e.g. families with small kids or other dependents.
I'm running out of steam for this single comment, but name is certainly not necessary for unique ID. Ongoing research is cracking this stuff wide open. When the netflix dataset came out, who would have thought that movie ratings could uniquely identify a person?