This is What Bailing Out General Motors Accomplished

The American people footed the bill to bail out the failures that is General Motors (GM) and what has received in return? Jack shit. Well more specifically jack shit and, as Days of our Trailers points out, constant tracking of everybody whose vehicle is equipped with OnStar:

Navigation-and-emergency-services company OnStar is notifying its six million account holders that it will keep a complete accounting of the speed and location of OnStar-equipped vehicles, even for drivers who discontinue monthly service.

OnStar began e-mailing customers Monday about its update to the privacy policy, which grants OnStar the right to sell that GPS-derived data in an anonymized format.

For those who aren’t aware OnStar is a subsidiary of GM so they would have gone under had the market been allowed to operate freely. But the thing you should be taking away from this is the fact that OnStar is not only tracking the location of paying customers but also the location of customers who have cancelled the service. Although OnStar claims they aren’t currently selling this information you know they eventually will be.

Setting this violation of trust aside there is another thing to consider, the possibility of such data being used to retroactively issue traffic violations or setup speed traps. Data collected by TomTom was used by the Dutch government to setup speed traps so it’s not like the scenario I’m hypothesizing is unprecedented.