Senator Coons tells OnStar that selling customers' location data is privacy breach
Senators Coons and Franken yesterday sent a letter to OnStar urging the in-car navigation provider to reconsider its decision to continue to track the locations of its customers and potentially sell that information to third parties even after those customers have terminated their service plans with the company. The senators requested that the company provide detailed information on how OnStar intends to protect its customers’ location data. The full text of the letter is available below.
Earlier this year, Senator Coons cosponsored the Location Privacy Protection Act — introduced by Senator Franken — which would require companies like OnStar to obtain their customers’ explicit permission before tracking their location information or sharing that information with third parties.
"OnStar’s actions appear to violate basic principles of privacy and fairness for OnStar’s approximately six million customers—especially for those customers who have already ended their relationships with your company," the letter states. "...We believe that OnStar’s actions underscore the urgent need for prompt congressional action to enact privacy laws that protect private, sensitive information like location. In the meantime, we believe that it is the responsibility of corporate citizens like OnStar to take every step possible to safeguard the privacy of their customers."
Senator Coons is a member of the Senate Judiciary Committee, which has jurisdiction over laws relating to the use and distribution of consumer information by businesses. He firmly believes that strong consumer data privacy is an issue of civil liberties, because American companies must be able to earn the trust of the consumers whose information they collect and store or risk consumer revolt and, ultimately, non-competitiveness in the market.
Read the full letter below.