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General Motors bows to pressure in OnStar privacy issue

The carmaker had sparked outrage after announcing it would keep a data connection to a vehicle even after a customer opts out of the service. It has reversed that decision.

September 28, 2011|By Jerry Hirsch, Los Angeles Times

General Motors Co. is changing course on how it will handle customers of its OnStar vehicle communication system once they opt out of the service.

The automaker said it will change its proposed "Terms and Conditions" policy and will not keep a data connection to customers' vehicles after the OnStar service is canceled.

U.S. Sen. Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) said that OnStar's policy represented an invasion of privacy, and he threatened a federal investigation.

"OnStar's reversal of policy is good news. Consumer tracking, whether across town or across the Internet, should always be an opt-in. OnStar is setting an example that others should follow," said Jeremy Anwyl, chief executive of auto information company Edmunds.com.

GM recently sent its OnStar customers e-mails that said as of Dec. 1, their service would change so that data from a customer's vehicle would continue to be transmitted even after the service was canceled. Customers could ask for the link to be terminated, however.

"We realize that our proposed amendments did not satisfy our subscribers," OnStar President Linda 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 6 million customers."

jerry.hirsch@latimes.com

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