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Last 7 Days

by Tim Beissmann

General Motors’ in-vehicle voice and data communications service, OnStar, has backed down on its decision to change its terms and conditions following public backlash over privacy concerns.

OnStar sent emails to customers earlier this month outlining changes to its service that would allow the company to continue to track a vehicle’s data even after the owner had cancelled the subscription.

The company would have access to a host of details, including the vehicle’s speed, location, seat belt status, odometer reading, whether the car is running or not, and a number of other attributes.

OnStar President Linda Marshall has today announced the decision to reverse the changes, confirming the company would not keep a data connection to customers’ vehicles after the service was cancelled.

“We realise that our proposed amendments did not satisfy our subscribers,” Ms 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 six million customers. We regret any confusion or concern we may have caused.”

Ms Marshall explained by maintaining a data connection, OnStar would have been able to provide former customers with urgent information about natural disasters and recalls affecting their vehicles even after cancelling their service. She said it also would have helped in planning future services, but that is now no longer the case.

OnStar is a subscription-based service offered in the US, Canada and China. It incorporates a number of innovative features, including in-vehicle security, hands-free phone calling, turn-by-turn satellite navigation, automatic crash response and stolen vehicle tracking. The system relies on CDMA mobile phone voice and data communication as well as GPS technology.

It is currently available on more than 40 MY2011 General Motors vehicles, and soon will be available to retrofit on most cars already on the road.