OnStar bows to Franken pressure about selling location information

OnStar today switched course after Sen. Al Franken criticized the General Motors-owned communications and navigation service for its plan to sell information about customers and even those who had not signed up for the service.

“We realize that our proposed amendments did not satisfy our subscribers,” OnStar President Linda Marshall said in a statement.

So to keep nearly 6 million customers happy, Marshall opted against OnStar’s previously announced plan.

“OnStar did the right thing today, and I’m glad that so many consumers now won’t have to worry about their location information being shared without their consent,” Franken, D-Minn., said. “While I’m pleased that OnStar reversed its policy, I still have questions about how that company and others are treating consumers’ location information.

“I also hope this spurs Congress to pass my location privacy bill to prevent situations like this in the future. Consumers have a right to know what data is being collected about them and have a right to decide whether they want to share that information and when.”

One of OnStar’s selling points is the technology can notify emergency services personnel if a vehicle has been in an accident, and provide them with the exact location. However, OnStar’s location service remains active even if the vehicle owner does not pay for the service and the company had thought about selling that information.

Franken and two other Democratic senators fought the OnStar plan.

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