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OnStar Knows More About Car Owners Than You May Think

» Posted January 27, 2020Resources | Share This Post

Technology that connects cars to the outside world has revolutionized the way that people get from Point A to Point B and everywhere in between. But, like other technological advances, the rise of satellite—based mapping and other internet-connected bells and whistles designed to make driving smoother can also be taken advantage of for other purposes.

A recent Washington Post investigation showed that OnStar emergency service systems loaded in cars track where drivers go, who they call, and what they take videos of on their phones.  

WaPo tech columnist Geoffrey Fowler had someone hack into the onboard system. He also got inside a Chevy infotainment computer that he purchased on eBay. That’s where he found private information about the previous owner, as well as personal photos.

The main takeaway from Fowler’s report is that the internet is always on, even if OnStar has not been activated. The technology draws on hundreds of sensors to surveil drivers and their phones. Fowler found that the OnStar system pulled contact lists, photos, email addresses and other information from his smartphone.

“Cars are becoming smartphones on wheels, sending and receiving data from apps, insurance firms and pretty much wherever their makers want,” Fowler writes. “Some brands even reserve the right to use the data to track you down if you don’t pay your bills.”

Legal Rights for California Car Owners

The California lemon law won’t necessarily protect you from being spied on by your car, but it can provide some important protections for car owners whose vehicle technology fails. The unfortunate truth is that, despite various tech advances over the years, new cars often leave the factory with significant defects that can put everyone’s safety at risk.

The Song-Beverly Consumer Warranty Act requires car manufacturers to make various repairs to vehicles while they are under warranty. If the manufacturer is unable or unwilling to make those repairs, it is required under the law to buy the car back. That includes picking up the tab for the purchase price, financing costs and other related expenses.  

A car manufacturer can offer to instead replace the vehicle, but it is up to the owner to decide whether to accept or reject that alternative.

Speak with a California Lemon Law Attorney

If you are a California car owner who has been stuck with a lemon, there are certain steps that you need to take to ensure that you are covered by the state law. The California lemon law lawyers at the Bickel Law Firm can help.

We have decades of combined legal experience, representing hundreds of clients in defective vehicle cases across the state. Our attorneys can help you understand your rights and options under the law.

Our offices are conveniently located in Los Angeles, San Diego and San Francisco. Call us at (888) 800-1983 or contact us online to speak with a California lemon law attorney.


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