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It's true that OnStar's TOS is awful, but the author leaps to several inflammatory conclusions that, to me, seem unjustified.

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.




There is a theory that you only build weapons that you intend to use, otherwise its a waste of funds. It cost money to put the language into the agreement and someone argued that cost with an offseting revenue. That suggests to me at least that the information will be packaged up and sold.

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.


Companies get sold all the time. Maybe someone at OnStar realized that this is a realistic possibility in the next couple of years. Maybe OnStar wants to found a shell corporation.

I have seen such wording in a number of other TOSes so far, e.g. by Google [1]:

If Google becomes involved in a merger, acquisition, or any form of sale of some or all of its assets, we will ensure the confidentiality of any personal information involved in such transactions and provide notice before personal information is transferred and becomes subject to a different privacy policy.

[1] http://www.google.com/privacy/privacy-policy.html


I agree they get sold all the time, I've been hearing advertisements that I can get OnStar on my non-GM car in the SF Bay Area, so I presume they are expanding their reach.

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.


OnStar is a massive advantage for GM; I can't foresee them ever selling it.

Edited because my slippery thumbs hit submit early.


Re: unjustified -

  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, 
This is from 2004, the "unnamed system" is OnStar and FBI did use it to eavesdrop on someone.

[0] http://news.cnet.com/2100-1029_3-5109435.html?tag=st_util_pr...


Of all the companies to single out as entities you wouldn't want GPS data to be acquired by, Apple and Google are an odd choice.

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?


I can't tell if you're being sarcastic or not. Setting apart the location-based services built into mobile devices, every time you access a service from either Apple or Google you're pinging their server with an IP address that has a certain degree of geolocation. This includes accessing a website using Google Analytics.




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