How to ruin your brand

Wow. I have no idea if OnStar was a respected brand, but if it was, it sure won’t be much longer:

Navigation-and-emergency-services company OnStar is notifying its six million account holders that it will keep a complete accounting of the speed and location of OnStar-equipped vehicles, even for drivers who discontinue monthly service.

OnStar began e-mailing customers Monday about its update to the privacy policy, which grants OnStar the right to sell that GPS-derived data in an anonymized format.

Adam Denison, a spokesman for the General Motors subsidiary, said OnStar does not currently sell customer data, but it reserves that right. He said both the new and old privacy policies allow OnStar to chronicle a vehicle’s every movement and its speed, though it’s not clear where that’s stated in the old policy.

“What’s changed [is that if] you want to cancel your OnStar service, we are going to maintain a two-way connection to your vehicle unless the customer says otherwise,” Denison said. . . Canceling customers must opt of of the continued surveillance monitoring program, according to the privacy policy. . .

Collecting location and speed data via GPS might also create a treasure trove of data that could be used in criminal and civil cases. One could also imagine an eager police chief acquiring the data to issue speeding tickets en masse.

Passing on the OnStar service isn’t enough; you don’t even want their hardware installed. Thankfully, that’s easy to arrange. Just don’t buy GM.

(Via Instapundit.)

UPDATE: OnStar reverses.

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