Police Use OnStar To Track Locations Of Suspects And Listen To Conversations

Posted: Jan 16 2017, 6:15am CST | by , in News | Latest Business News


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Police use OnStar to track locations of suspects and listen to conversations

Some are calling or the laws to be rewritten to consider new technologies

A new report from Forbes claims that for the last 15 years police agencies have been using connected car technology to locate and listen in on subjects of investigations. This action has been dubbed cartapping and at times can give near real-time audio and location data. It's not only services like OnStar that have the ability to locate stolen cars, it's also seemingly benign services like SiriusXM satellite radio that has been used to locate suspects.

In 2014 a warrant was issued and only recently unsealed that forced SiriusXM to "activate and monitor as a tracking device" the Sirius XM Satellite radio installed in a Toyota 4-Runner that was thought to be involved in an illegal gambling enterprise. SiriusXM complied and turned on the stolen vehicle recovery feature of its Connected Vehicle Services tech available in some of the cars fitted with its tech. The normal satellite radios cannot be tracked.

GM has also reportedly worked with law enforcement officers via its OnStar system. Back in 2009 a court order had OnStar using data from a Chevy Tahoe driven by a suspected drug dealer to help police track the driver. The data allowed the police to single out the suspencts car out of all vehicles on the road that night. The suspect was pulled over and cocaine, ecstasy, and a gun were found in the vehicle.

A GM spokesperson said, "We do not monitor or otherwise track the location of OnStar-equipped cars, unless required by a valid court order in criminal procedures or under exigent circumstances; and we don’t release the number of those requests. We take our customers’ privacy, safety and security very seriously, and we assist them on average more than 600 times each month in North America with some form of Stolen Vehicle Assistance."

Legal teams for the defendants in these cases tried to get the evidence thrown out of court, but have been unsuccessful. The defendants argued the data was a violation of wiretapping and electronic surveillance laws. In one case the court decide there is no distinction between a planted GPS device or the use of factory installed technology. Some are calling for a refresh of laws to go with new technology that didn't exist when the law was written, Neema Singh Guliani of the ACLU is one of those people.

"Fundamentally, what's happening is the technology is moving at warp speed, and there are more and more ways to get information on people, about their personal activities, but you have the law standing utterly still," Guliani added.

"What's often happening the police are trying to massage laws that were written at the time, in some cases when we didn’t even have the internet or the concept of a telephone, or GPS, and massage them to fit these modern technologies."

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The Author

<a href="/latest_stories/all/all/3" rel="author">Shane McGlaun</a>
Tech and Car expert Shane McGlaun (Google) reports about what's new in these two sectors. His extensive experience in testing cars, computer hardware and consumer electronics enable him to effectively qualify new products and trends. If you want us review your product, please contact Shane.
Shane can be contacted directly at shane@i4u.com.




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