OnStar Reverses Course on Driver-Data Policy After Schumer Raises Privacy Concerns

Navigation system company OnStar reversed course on a controversial policy change Tuesday, announcing that it will not track drivers after they discontinue service, following complaints from Sen. Charles Schumer.

OnStar revealed the decision in a brief statement Tuesday afternoon.

"OnStar announced today it is reversing its proposed Terms and Conditions policy changes and will not keep a data connection to customers' vehicles after the OnStar service is canceled," the company said.

The move comes after Schumer, D-N.Y., called on the Federal Trade Commission to investigate OnStar over the original policy change. Under the change, OnStar would have continued to keep a data connection with customers even after service is canceled, unless the customer explicitly opts out.

"I am concerned that OnStar may be abusing the consumer data -- including sensitive information like vehicle location and speed -- to which it has access," Schumer wrote to the FTC. He asked the FTC to investigate whether the policy changes constitute "an unfair or deceptive trade practice."

In a separate letter to OnStar, he called the change "a violation of which many may not be aware; a reasonable consumer would assume that when they terminate a service, they will no longer be monitored by the service provider."

Schumer released a statement Tuesday calling OnStar's decision to reverse course "the right one."

"This announcement puts decisions about personal privacy back where they belong, in the hands of individuals," he said, calling the reversal "a major victory for personal privacy."

"I applaud their responsiveness to our concerns," he said.

Schumer had also expressed concerns about OnStar reserving the right to sell customer information about driver habits to other groups.

Asked about the issue, an OnStar representative said the company "does not sell personally identifiable location data." The representative did not say whether the idea of selling driver information in the future would be ruled out.