Every minute for three months, GM secretly gathered data on 90,000 drivers' radio-listening habits and locations

Originally published at: https://boingboing.net/2018/10/23/dont-touch-that-dial.html

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A curious thought, how many BB’ers are driving a GM product?


Suddenly, scores of closeted Nickleback fans are trembling, hoping that no one hacks the GM database and starts naming names.


With that sort of mass, stealthy, “fuck you, customer, and the privacy you assumed you had in your car” attitude and capability, expect Zuckerberg to bid for GM in 3…2…1…


“secretly” though in that they asked.

About 90,000 drivers in Los Angeles and Chicago agreed to participate in a “proof of concept” late last year. The data collected could possibly lead to more targeted radio advertising.


i think it was exfiltrated via the onstar cellular cnxn rather than wifi


What I find unusual about this revelation is that the story is treated as an unusual breach of privacy. Smart TVs, smart speakers, Windows 10, and just about every recently made car collects and uploads a variety of data about your activities and habits.

If they’re only using that info to advertise at you (so far, at least), that’s pretty easy to avoid. I have a 32G USB stick full of legally obtained music that I play in the car. So far, the auto manufacturers haven’t decided to interrupt USB media playback with advertising.

But you didn’t stop to think if you should


This sort of clickbait is becoming all too typical of this contributor here.

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The…the 20,000 GM networks here don’t actually drive. Their job is to keep one KOA Campground rentable one week a year.


Not only I don’t drive a GM car, I chose a car without “telemetry”, that is a cellular modem reporting to the manufacturer. I gather that GM is not the only one interested in driver data.

The car was cheaper without “telemetry”, too. It is a small, cheap model. “Telemetry” is mainly offered on plush models. My neighbors who drive plush SUVs may have pity on me for driving a budget car, but so what.


What’s a radio?


The button was stuck. I swear I don’t really like EDM!

Oh, wait, I don’t drive a GM and I don’t listen to the radio.

Forget I said that.


A few years ago, one brand of SmartTV was discovered sampling a specific small set of pixels on the screen every second or so, and reporting it back to their servers. (Vizio, I think.) It didn’t matter what the input was, if you were watching cable, dish, DVR, a BluRay, or playing a video game, the samples were sent. If the samples were recognized by their database, they’d then know you were watching “Avengers”, and that you fast-forwarded through the commercials.

If GM wanted, the same tech could be used to sample your USB originated music and send it to a service like Shazam (to what end is a different question.)

Don’t underestimate the cleverness of the big data analysts, nor overestimate their morals or restraint. They are in it to monetize every millisecond of your existence. And vote with your wallet.


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