Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
OnStar is now a standard feature for many General Motors vehicles, and will be standard on all its new vehicles sold in North America by 2007 . It is also available on a number of other vehicles. The subscription-based service is availible for all vehicles which have the factory-installed OnStar hardware. It consists of both comunication, through mobile phone networks, and tracking by GPS technology. Drivers and passengers can use its audio interface to contact OnStar representitives, who can also initiate contact based on information they recieve from the connected sensors.
OnStar advocates tout it as an essential safety tool. GM commercials have compared it to seatbelts and airbags, as the next major technology for safe driving. The benefits, they say, include its ability to aide the police in tracking down stolen vehicles, to contact emergency medical services in case of an accident (should the driver request this or be non-responsive), to notify drivers of potentially dangerous mechanical problems, and to unlock doors for drivers (after verifying authorization over the phone), should their keys be misplaced or locked inside their car.
Critics are wary of the possible privacy implications of Onstar and other similary and related technologies. They raise questions about whether police or others could make use of OnStar's tracking, whether legally or illegally, for surveillance or stalking. They cite cases where evidence collected by OnStar has already been used in court and where OnStar has contacted the police, against the driver's wishes, in the course of incidents such as hit-and-run accidents. Privacy advocates worry that innocent citizens may be hassled by the authorities due to false alarms. Concerns are also raised about what might be done with the data collected by the vehicles' event data recorders, which are analogous to those on airplanes but not as sophisticated and do not currenly fuction as voice recorders . For example, they say, insurance companies or auto dealers could use data suggesting reckless driving as the basis for denying claims or warranty service. Some critics compare OnStar with "Big Brother," from George Orwell's 1984. OnStar maintains that it is committed to maintaining the privacy of its customers.
External links and sources
The contents of this article is licensed from www.wikipedia.org under the GNU Free Documentation License. Click here to see the transparent copy and copyright details