Today, Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY) sent letters to Federal Trade Commission chairman Jon Liebowitz and OnStar executive director Linda Marshall regarding recent controversial changes to OnStar’s privacy policies. OnStar provides in-vehicle GPS navigation, emergency response, and concierge services for millions of U.S.-manufactured vehicles. In providing these services, OnStar collects data regarding customers’ location, speed, driving habits, odometer mileage, and other personal information. Prior to the changes announced last week, OnStar ceased collecting information about a customer if the customer decided to cancel his or her service. It has been reported that, going forward, OnStar plans to continue to collect location and speed information about a customer even if the customer cancels the service, unless the customer specifically and explicitly instructs OnStar to no longer collect information.
Senator Schumer’s letter to the FTC calls for an investigation into whether OnStar’s privacy practices constitute an unfair trade practice under section 5 of the Federal Trade Commission Act. His letter to OnStar asks the company to reverse the changes to its privacy practices.
UPDATE (Sept. 27, 2011): OnStar reversed the changes to its privacy practices and will now only collect information from a former customer if the customer opts in.