GM facing class action for collecting, selling customer data

Automotive giant General Motors and its partners have been accused of non-consensually gathering customer’s driving data and selling it on, leading to a potential class action lawsuit in the US.

Last week, The New York Times published an in-depth investigation after being contacted by Kenn Dahl, a Chevrolet Bolt owner, who had been quoted a significantly higher insurance renewal premium due to the results of his LexisNexis driving report.

LexisNexis, a global data broker, has a Risk Solutions division which serves the insurance industry. According to the publication, Kia, Subaru and Mitsubishi also provide driving data to the firm.

Mr Dahl requested the data that had been collected by the firm and was sent a 258-page report – the same one that was distributed to insurance companies he had previously talked to.

The report detailed when the Bolt had been driven and for how long, as well as detailed information on things such as speeding and hard braking, though it omitted the actual locations of where it had been driven.

The New York Times subsequently published a second report, after Cadillac XT6 owner Romeo Chicco claimed to have been denied insurance by seven companies – again due to his LexisNexis report.

While Mr Chicco eventually obtained insurance coverage, it cost double his previous premium.

In both cases, the driving data supplied to LexisNexis had come from General Motors, the parent company of Chevrolet, Cadillac and multiple other car brands.

Mr Chicco has subsequently filed a federal complaint seeking a class action lawsuit against the auto giant in a Southern District of Florida court.

The complaint alleges General Motors sent data to LexisNexis via the car’s onboard OnStar connected services system.

According to OnStar, Mr Chicco voluntarily signed up for its Smart Driver program to receive driver feedback.

“What no one can tell me is how I enrolled in it,” Mr Chicco told The New York Times.

“You can tell me how many times I hard-accelerated on January 30 between 6am and 8am, but you can’t tell me how I enrolled in this?”

According to the publication, LexisNexis declined to comment on the potential class action, while a General Motors spokesperson clarified the brand’s position on collecting customer data.

“GM’s OnStar Smart Driver service is optional to customers,” the spokesperson said.

“Customer benefits include learning more about their safe driving behaviours or vehicle performance that, with their consent, may be used to obtain insurance quotes. Customers can also unenroll from Smart Driver at any time.”

OnStar was planned to roll out in Australia through the new Holden Equinox in 2018, though this was later delayed to 2021. Holden’s closure on December 31, 2020 prevented the connected services system from being launched locally.

While General Motors currently sells the Chevrolet Silverado pickup and Corvette sports car in Australia, OnStar isn’t offered in either vehicle.

It’s not yet clear whether the upcoming relaunch of Cadillac or the arrival of the GMC Yukon will bring OnStar to the local market.

SOURCE

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