Oh, the things I find out by reading.
The thoughts that I were left with when finishing the earlier post about GM/OnStar were along the lines of “people really should not have to disconnect OnStar to preserve their privacy, there has to be something I am missing”. And in addition to being incorrect about being able to disconnect OnStar by just pulling a fuse (sometimes you disconnect more than just OnStar that way, unless you go straight to the OnStar box and disconnect power there), I also had no idea, until today, that Texas law actually forbids some of what GM is doing.
I was looking up something in the Texas Transportation Code researching an unrelated matter, and happened to notice http://www.statutes.legis.state.tx.us/Docs/TN/htm/TN.547.htm#547.615 entited “Recording Devices” which appears to address services such as OnStar. I have reproduced the section in its entirety below:
Sec. 547.615. RECORDING DEVICES. (a) In this section: (1) "Owner" means a person who: (A) has all the incidents of ownership of a motor vehicle, including legal title, regardless of whether the person lends, rents, or creates a security interest in the vehicle; (B) is entitled to possession of a motor vehicle as a purchaser under a security agreement; or (C) is entitled to possession of a motor vehicle as a lessee under a written lease agreement if the agreement is for a period of not less than three months. (2) "Recording device" means a feature that is installed by the manufacturer in a motor vehicle and that does any of the following for the purpose of retrieving information from the vehicle after an accident in which the vehicle has been involved: (A) records the speed and direction the vehicle is traveling; (B) records vehicle location data; (C) records steering performance; (D) records brake performance, including information on whether brakes were applied before an accident; (E) records the driver's safety belt status; or (F) transmits information concerning the accident to a central communications system when the accident occurs. (b) A manufacturer of a new motor vehicle that is sold or leased in this state and that is equipped with a recording device shall disclose that fact in the owner's manual of the vehicle. (c) Information recorded or transmitted by a recording device may not be retrieved by a person other than the owner of the motor vehicle in which the recording device is installed except: (1) on court order; (2) with the consent of the owner for any purpose, including for the purpose of diagnosing, servicing, or repairing the motor vehicle; (3) for the purpose of improving motor vehicle safety, including for medical research on the human body's reaction to motor vehicle accidents, if the identity of the owner or driver of the vehicle is not disclosed in connection with the retrieved information; or (4) for the purpose of determining the need for or facilitating emergency medical response in the event of a motor vehicle accident. (d) For information recorded or transmitted by a recording device described by Subsection (a)(2)(B), a court order may be obtained only after a showing that: (1) retrieval of the information is necessary to protect the public safety; or (2) the information is evidence of an offense or constitutes evidence that a particular person committed an offense. (e) For the purposes of Subsection (c)(3): (1) disclosure of a motor vehicle's vehicle identification number with the last six digits deleted or redacted is not disclosure of the identity of the owner or driver; and (2) retrieved information may be disclosed only: (A) for the purposes of motor vehicle safety and medical research communities to advance the purposes described in Subsection (c)(3); or (B) to a data processor solely for the purposes described in Subsection (c)(3). (f) If a recording device is used as part of a subscription service, the subscription service agreement must disclose that the device may record or transmit information as described by Subsection (a)(2). Subsection (c) does not apply to a subscription service under this subsection. Added by Acts 2005, 79th Leg., Ch. 910, Sec. 1, eff. September 1, 2006.
So, according to my interpretation of the law, it would appear that GM/OnStar can’t do what they plan to do with non-subscriber info. It is unfortunate that the law, as written, has a loophole in it that’s (pardon the awful pun) big enough to drive a truck through. Subscribers should be protected from undesired privacy invasion such as that which GM/OnStar is effecting with their change in terms and conditions.
I’d like to know what the official GM/OnStar line is regarding Texas Transportation Code section 547.615. Shouldn’t Federal law also prohibit what GM/OnStar is changing the T&C to allow? I think it should, and I doubt I am the only one.