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Images-131 Wow, did anyone have any idea that the OnStar system could be turned on remotely to listen to what people are saying in their cars? I guess it’s like tapping a phone, but this phone is usually off. Check this out- Houston defense attorney Douglas McNabb and other defense attorneys interviewed Tuesday said they knew of no other cases in which law enforcement had used an onboard system to intercept conversations of people who were lawfully occupying a vehicle. I’d love to figure this one out! [via] Link.

Phillip Torrone

Editor at large – Make magazine. Creative director – Adafruit Industries, contributing editor – Popular Science. Previously: Founded – Hack-a-Day, how-to editor – Engadget, Director of product development – Fallon Worldwide, Technology Director – Braincraft.


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  1. BrK says:

    Wow, did anyone have any idea that the OnStar system could be turned on remotely to listen to what people are saying in their cars?

    Uh, yeah I did. One reason that I wouldn’t pay an automaker money for a system that *I* have no control of, especially when that system can be used against me, the guy that paid for it.

  2. NickCarter says:

    There was an episode in the last season of the “Sopranos” where Tony talked about it and how he had the dealer rip it out of his new car for exactly the same reason.

  3. DrNick says:

    Wow, did anyone have any idea that the OnStar system could be turned on remotely to listen to what people are saying in their cars?

    Well, yes..it’s a feature, they show it in commercials except that it’s supposed to be used when there is an accident to communicate with people in the car in case they cannot activate the system themselves.

  4. michelleb says:

    OnStar advertises that they can track a stolen car. What’s to stop law enforcement from using the Patriot act to track your car while you’re in it? How long does OnStar keep records of where you go and how long you stay there? Who has access to these records? I always thought that Big Brother would be imposed on us; I never thought we’d buy it wrapped up in an expensive package, yet here it is.

  5. resl says:

    According to the decision, written by Judge Marsha Berzon, the FBI’s surveillance in this case disabled the system in the monitored car.
    “The result was that the company could no longer supply any of the various services it had promised its customer, including assurance of response in an emergency,” Berzon wrote.

    The unit does have a built in microphone, so it’s possible that they could have just hooked a tape recorder up to the microphone feed.
    In terms of onstar always tracking people in cars, their website states that they use cellular technology to communicate with the vehicle. It would cost them an arm and a leg alone to pay for 24×7 cell phone minutes for their million cars.

  6. mac321 says:

    I just thought I would let you know my story about onstar federal and state listening device. Well here it is and this is exactly what happened. Me and my best friend were driving in a rent car in Hawaii. Well we decided to look for some of that special green you find over there in the islands ( pot or weed ) for those of you that are completely clueless. Any way we started talking about how good it was and how everyone on the island seems to sell it. So we pull in to this beach park on the windy side if you don’t know no tourists over there so very few cops. Well we parked and went down to the beach. Well when we got back we see 4 cops and a k-9 at our car. Well lucky for us we were just talking and had not picked any up. And when I asked why the hell they were all over this he strait out told me they were listening in over the on star and they do it all the time to tourist that rent cars. Not only that I have a friend that works as a cop in Texas and he told me that the onstar is set up in a way that the system monitors for certain words and fraises just like the internet and telephone. Thanks to the new patriot act this is legal. Well all I can say is it is your fault everything the media tells you you just eat it up like blind mindless sheep. As soon as I can I am leavening this country at this point communist china is freer than America. Oh yea keep buying into the fear tactics our government uses too that is really working in case you cant tell this is sarcasm .

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