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Onstar Navigation System to Deliver In-Car Spam 182

pneuma_66 writes: "According to the New York Times (Free reg, don't cha know) navigation systems, like OnStar, are planning to deliver ads based on the car's location. For example, the system will 'notify' the driver of sales in nearby stores. The vp of OnStar says "The privacy and the confidentiality of our subscribers are of the utmost importance", well lets see how the big companies play with this new wealth of information."
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Onstar Navigation System to Deliver In-Car Spam

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  • by itsnotme ( 20905 ) on Saturday November 17, 2001 @04:54PM (#2579219) Homepage
    Well, apparently now you cant run to your car to hide from all that spam you get from the USPS and your email and your AOL email.. They've now got you! you go camping with your car, you're still going to get spammed.. seems to me that they've got every corner of the earth to be now non-spam-free.. unless you do go hiking into the wilderness.. but heck.. maybe they've got some trees hooked up to the net so you'll be spammed in the wilderness now too!

    Isnt there any end to this spamfest?

    Moderation Totals: Funny=+1 Insightful=+1 SpamComplaint=-1
    • Oh yeah and I forgot to add.. if they're putting spam in cars.. your new bicycle at this rate will probably have spam too, and it'll be powered by you pedalling! Think it'll end there? How about that baby stroller you bought.. gee it'll be spamming you and it'll be powered by you pushing it!

      The spam industry's never going to let you go..
      • your new bicycle at this rate will probably have spam too, and it'll be powered by you pedalling!
        ...and who's under the impression that no costs are incurred by receiving spam? "It took me forever to get across town on my bike because of all the goddamn spam that kept flooding in on my Acme bike computer..."

        How long before procmail [procmail.org] gets ported to OnStar? Hey, Linux has been ported to everything under the sun; why not procmail?

    • The best way to battle spam is to create a hotmail account to have the spam delivered to. Whenever you sign up to something online you use that account unless you trust them not to spam you or sell your address. I do this and I believe I only once got spammed at my regular e-mail address.
      • That USED to be a valid use of Hotmail, but now with the forced "gift" from M$ of a passport account, it is no longer useful. Of course, I suppose it would be cool if you created the account (and thus received the passport account) from a TOTALLY bogus persona then it wouldn't matter. Nail M$ Snotmail servers with your spam all your want - jut do NOT give them real information when you signup.

    • If I had a car that could use the Onstar system, I would deliberately tell them that I would not want spam, or else to cancel the account before I drove the car through the show room window

      Actually, it would make a wonderful scene for a subplot in a movie. Yes I can see it - someone wins a year in a house from the future - the Microsoft house that wakes you up everytime you get spam. And the final escape to the car where it decides to use the "follow you everywhere" feature for email and messages. complete with the tech support who insist that this is a feature and all the rest.

      Someone should be able to hone some sort of open source movie script to fine effect.

      • > If I had a car that could use the Onstar system, I would deliberately tell them that I would not want spam, or else to cancel the account before I drove the car through the show room window

        I think you have the order reversed.

        If I had a car with OnStar and got spammed, I'd drive it through the showroom window first (hopefully crushing a cute baby or pregnant woman to death in the process), and then sue the bejeezus out of GM and the advertiser on the grounds that the spam distracted me. A few billion dollars in damages will shut these pigfucking marketroids down pronto, or at least convince potential advertisers to stay the fuck out of my car.

        Surely if it's illegal for me to distract myself with a cell phone, but it ought to be just as illegal for my car manufacturer to distract me with spam, no? (That's why I hope there's a preggo or sprog in the showroom when I hit it, it'll spur the congresscritters to stop the advertising in our cars, "for the chilllllllldrun!" With any luck, I can get the next-of-kin to join me as plaintiffs in the suit!)

  • by buckeyeguy ( 525140 ) on Saturday November 17, 2001 @04:54PM (#2579220) Homepage Journal
    GM must think that OnStar is a big new cash cow, because since I bought my 2001 Grand Prix, they've not let up on the junk snail mail to home... wish they'd get the message.

    Online spam in the car? Ouch

  • by Dredd13 ( 14750 ) <dredd@megacity.org> on Saturday November 17, 2001 @04:56PM (#2579229) Homepage
    Picture the scenario, you're concentrating on where you're going, because you've never been there before, its hectic traffic, somewhere in the city, where the ordeal of keeping track of pedestrians and cars is enough to deal with. Suddenly, your attention is jolted elsewhere by a voice in your car (you're alone), you take your eyes off the road to find the source of voice which says "Up ahead on the right is Foobar's. Foobar's is having a sale on diapers right now!"... by the time you realize its a crummy OnStar ad, and return your attention to the road, it's too late to notice the bicyclist chewing on your grill.

    So when the bicyclist sues you, and you in turn pin it on OnStar, that's when this shit will be nipped in the bud.

    • This isn't really that big of a deal, just play a soft but distinctive seris of tones before the ad starts playing, so the user knows what's coming. I do the same thing with my text-to-speech television show reminder, and I don't have a problem unless the music is turned up so loud that I miss the intro tones.
      • just play a soft but distinctive seris of tones before the ad starts playing, so the user knows what's coming

        But if this were to happen, it would provide the perfect anti-spam filtering pattern match, or trigger.
  • RTFA (Score:2, Insightful)

    by dieman ( 4814 )
    Its only happening when you use their 'virtual advisor' service. Yeah, you pay for it. but its not going to be interrupting your service use. If you dont like it, dont buy it. duh!
    • Re:RTFA (Score:2, Insightful)

      by VA Software ( 533136 )
      "it's not going to be interrupting your service use"

      The article is not very clear. I assumed it would interrupt based on ...

      "Of course, drivers listen to unsolicited
      commercial messages every day on their car
      radios, with no fuss

      Their theory is that because we're being advertised at already, we obviously have no problems with being advertised some more.

      I, for one, am quite capable of switching to a different station when the ads start. These new-fangled radios with their presets and memories make channel hopping easy.
    • Bet they're thinking of offering two levels of service: A more costly ad-free one and a less expensive spam saturated one.
  • ... seriously. Will that work? Oftentimes there will only be one person in the car and hence he/she wont be able to look down to see the ad. Besides, with the way people drive these days, wno one will have time to stop for a sale anyway.

    Now something more realistic (if it isnt there already) would be having the system allow a user to query information about nearby hotels, malls, restaurants, etc.
    • Oftentimes there will only be one person in the car and hence he/she wont be able to look down to see the ad.

      OnStar is a voice system, not computer/LCD. There's a little button that basically places a cellphone call to a directory service, and also sends your GPS location. From there, you're talking to a real person (or, as in the case of ads, listening to a recording, like on the radio). There won't be a requirement to look anywhere in order to receive the information.

      Now something more realistic (if it isnt there already) would be having the system allow a user to query information about nearby hotels, malls, restaurants, etc.

      That's pretty much what OnStar's good for right now, aside from auto-calling in an emergency. You can press the OnStar button, and ask somebody where there's a hotel, gas station, movie theater, italian restaurant (and I think they can even make reservations), or as in an example another poster provided, the nearest tittie bar.
  • Wonder how Batman is going to react to this. Joker will love it for obvious reasons.
  • This is stupid. (Score:2, Insightful)

    by anotherone ( 132088 )
    Correct me if I'm wrong, but people pay for this OnStar service. And they feel the need to make more money by selling ads in people's cars?

    I read something in Analog SF recently that involved a household robot that you could get for free, in exchange for having it spout ads all the time. ("You are out of window cleaning fluid. I suggest you buy Windex! Streak free cleaning bla bla bla...") Maybe if they gave you the OnStar service free, or at a reduced rate, the incar ads wouldn't be so bad... but even then, this is kind of a bad idea.

    We'll see how the market likes this.

    • People pay for cable television, but I don't hear too much complaining about commercial breaks on ESPN/TNT/other cable stations. I think it may be something people will just have to get used to. Just signing up for the basic OnStar service won't get you any advertisements, but if you want things like stock quotes, you may just have to live with hearing an ad for Fidelity Investments.
      • People pay for cable television, but I don't hear too much complaining about commercial breaks on ESPN/TNT/other cable stations

        Correction. You pay for the right to access the local cable company's network. You are not paying ESPN/CSPAN/TWC, or even the producers of the programs they run, for the right to watch what they are putting out. They provide this service to you at no charge, and in return, you "agree" to watch their commercials. It's somewhat like electricity -- you can have the lines going into your house, but unless there is somebody on the other end of those lines to provide 'content', it won't do you a damn bit of good. The analogy is that you are paying for the lines here with $$$, but are paying for the actual service with your eyes.
  • by G00F ( 241765 )
    Advertising is really getting awfull. I can see a huge suit going over this. And I hoep so. Buy a product, and then they advertise to you!
    • What's the difference between this and the myriads of people already who pay big bucks to wear tshirts or whatever that has a huge corporate logo on it? I've never been able to fathom that one, and have gone so far as to mention to some tshirt salesmen that, since they would have to pay to adverize on a billboard or the side of a bus, they should pay _me_ to show off their Coke logo or something.
  • by EvilStein ( 414640 ) <spam&pbp,net> on Saturday November 17, 2001 @05:01PM (#2579246)
    I bet they're going to try the same tired line of "Well, in this dynamic market, we need to experiment with sources of revenue..blabla..."

    They're *already* charging people something like $399/yr, in addition to the stuff being installed on your vehicle,and NOW they're going to try throwing ADVERTISEMENTS at you?

    Screw *that* - I'll just drive around with my happy Garmin eTrex GPS unit. At least it doesn't feel the need to inform me of a sale at Macy's.

    On the flip side, Onstar really CAN find most anything. Our crazy friend Bill called Onstar and asked "Where's the nearest tittie bar?" and we had the answer within seconds. Gotta love that kind of service. :-)
    • by Anonymous Coward
      This service is free for the first year and only $150 a year after that. Right now on some of the car websites there is a bigger concern that police and the IRS will be able to get the tracking data of where you've been. Just like the story about the guy who had his bank account drained by a rental car company for his alleged speeding. On Star, to some, is just another form of big brother watching ou every move.
    • Oh my god.. what a new concept... how original..

      These guys want you to pay for their service AND serve advertisements to you? I am betting in a few weeks we will see how AOL has filed suit against Onstar for stealing their business practices... they would be right of course -- who could claim prior art against AOL's practices?
  • The article indicates no pop up ads. That's a relief for me as a driver - i dont want an ad suddenly blocking my vision of the road. But like Internet ads, they didnt start off with pop ups either - so the question is how long until the ad appears on my windshield via heads up displays?
    • Well, for security reasons, the pop-ups shouldn't block you vision. But what if they are coded to parts where you can't see the road? Instead of seeing the hood, you could see ads. And in rainy weather, pop-ups following the wipers would be the most effective way to focus the customer's attention.
  • by trilucid ( 515316 ) <pparadis@havensystems.net> on Saturday November 17, 2001 @05:06PM (#2579263) Homepage Journal

    This might not be all bad... take an example scenario for instance:

    1. VA Linux, err... Systems... err, whatever they are nowaways sells all customer information on every /. user in existence to the OnStar folks.

    2. Geeks everywhere are suddenly constantly notified (in that pleasant feminine voice) of valuable chances to spend their money:
    • "There is a strip club off to your left. Those women like geeks."

    • "Adult video store just around the corner!"

    • "That iMac girl is real, and she's giving out table dances at the Fun Club downtown at eight o'clock!"

    • "Your boss just installed Windows XP across the company network. Your BSD server is gone. Wouldn't you like to purchase a firearm at Ed's Discount Sawn-offs tonight?"

    The possibilities are limitless. :)

  • I too have a knee-jerk reaction to advertising, however I think I would love to have such a service done right, and delivered into my car. I don't know about you, but I think that being in an unknown area and getting notified of nearby restaurants/shops/whatever is kinda neat.

    Don't forget advertising's original goal: to get the word out about products.

  • by jeffy124 ( 453342 ) on Saturday November 17, 2001 @05:09PM (#2579276) Homepage Journal
    OPT-IN MARKETING!!!! I never thought I'd see the day merketers ask me if I want to see ads. Read the article and you shall see - the spamming requires you to sign up. Of course one already pays soemthing like 400/year for it, so i dont know how many people will jump for joy over this. Maybe if they cut the fee for signing up they'll get some people who will live with ads.
    • But we have opt-in marketing now. At least, we do according to the roughly 5-10 spamming fuckheads per day who take pains to inform me: "THIS IS NOT SPAM! You have received this valuable information because you signed up for it!"

      The day I sign up for marketers telling me what's on "sale" is the day Satan builds a snowman.


    • Cable TV is worth the money because it is advert free! The picture is much better too, especially since they've gone digital.

      Why should I complain? Look at all the great stuff that would not exist if companies were not permitted to shove stuff down our throats all day. Highway billboards, McDonalds, top 40 music, alternative top 40 music, Hollywood, children's cereal that cost more per pound than steak, three large and valuable TV fanchises owned by GE, Westinghouse and Disney, artificial grape flavor, the list of quality additions to all our lives goes on and on. With databases they can target those of us who don't buy such shit for extermination. This is a great day and we are one step closer to thar really cool car, Kit pimp addition. Thank you OnStar for proving that there will be one less place to hide.

      I can't wait for the new home emergency service with opt in adverts. Just imagine your $400/year burgalar alarm shouting things at you. I'm over awed. I can't wait for it's integration into the Homaland Security sytem so the Federal Government can make sure I'm safe too. This is all so cool. Gadget future, just like predicted in 1984.

  • Ok while I hate to say that this is spam and all spam is bad, it will work...

    Let me explain why. Right now there is a certain amount of noise, much like a radio. But now imagine a radio that can custom tailor information based on your location.

    I have a GPS system in my car and I LOVE IT!!! I never have to read another map. And in Europe the GPS system is REALLY accurate. What I would love to do is tell my system that I am interested in buying something in the next week. And if I drive past a store that has that something tell me. Or if I need that something right away tell me. The point is that I would really like this even though it is spam.

    I think the difference with this spam and other spam is that this is pin point spam that may actually be relevant on the spur of the moment.
    • I never have to read another map.

      I see. Does a GPS tell you which roads are one way only, or where the next highway interchange is?

      I fail to see why you think not having to read maps anymore is such a great thing. I've been stopped twice in the last month by delivery truck drivers asking me where a street is. I asked them for their map so I could show them how to get there, but neither had one in the cab. That's pretty pathetic.

      • Does a GPS tell you which roads are one way only, or where the next highway interchange is?

        Some do.
      • Re:It will work... (Score:2, Insightful)

        by SerpentMage ( 13390 )
        Actually mine does... I know which roads are one way, where round abouts are, which side streets to avoid, etc. And if there is a traffic jam coming up I can punch in the distance and it will automatically reroute me to next best route.

        Because of this GPS system I absolutely refuse to buy another car without it.

        What I even love about my GPS is when I get lost (did not turn off when I should have) my GPS will automatically reroute me and figure out when I will arrive there. The ETA is really cool because it tells me on a long haul when I will arrive...

        Ok I could go on for hours, but the few thousand Euros are worth every penny...
  • by Man of E ( 531031 ) <i.have@no.email.com> on Saturday November 17, 2001 @05:10PM (#2579279)
    Drive by the post office... You've got mail!
    Drive by Harvard University... Get your PhD degree!
    Drive by the bank... Make $$$ Fast!
    Drive by the swimming pool... Get wet pussy now!

    Thanks to OnStar and AOL, my daily commute is finally going to become fun again!

  • by mangu ( 126918 ) on Saturday November 17, 2001 @05:11PM (#2579283)
    I don't mean the technical differences, but the fact that you are getting advertisements you didn't request. I suppose the next step will be to create the "Onstar Silver" system, where you can configure the type of ads you want to get, "Onstar Gold", where you can make queries about the nearest restaurants, etc, and the "Onstar Platinum" where you are given the choice of not receiving any ads.
    • It's not that much different from radio, exept that it tracks your position and your responsiveness to adverts. Soon however, we can imagine that it will take a license to run such services so that the federal government can collect $500,000 per year from those running this new "information service" in each city. Count on only a few privalidged people, and Uncle Sam thanks to the Patriot Act, knowing where you go. So you see, the future is the past but better. Have a nice day.
    • You can turn your radio off.
    • The difference from radio is enormous, and I struggle to imagine how anybody could make the comparison.

      Radio is free. As you probably know, the government licenses broadcasters to use the airwaves, because the bandwidth is so limited (I mean bandwidth in the radio sense). This is also why the goverment tightly regulates that industry, limiting programming and requiring a certain amount of public service, such as news and other public service announcements.

      Why would anybody do this? Because it's a fantastic tool that you can't just go out and buy or manufacturer. Within the government restrictions, you can provide whatever programming people want to hear and also play advertisements, which pays for all of the programming, and pays for everything else. Without commercials, radio doesn't exist.

      No, you didn't "request" the ad. You turned on the radio and listened to the station's programming. This is not a new arrangement, and you knew the rules going in. Radio stations play commercials... that's the way it is. Before anybody mentions their local "commercial free" station as a response to this, any radio station of that sort only exists because it's a "sister station" of another station that DOES play commercials, and news, and PSAs, and everything else that the government and financial considerations require.

      Back to OnStar. Having read the New York Times article, I have a different and more accurate understanding of it then the Slashdot headline provided. This is not as much "ads you didn't request", as it is information that you have specified you are interested in.
    • With OnStar, you pay hundreds of dollars per year to use the service. With radio, you pay exactly $0 to use it (except for the hardware costs.)

      Because you're already paying, OnStar shouldn't have to bombard you with ad content. But radio, on the other hand, I don't if they play ads because I'm not paying the stations money. And I can just mute the radio for the annoying ads.

    • The BIGGEST difference is that no one knows when you are listening to radio, or even who you are. Your radio listening cannot be tied to you or your vehicle, etc. With OnStar, your vehicle is specifically and explicitely known, and with that YOU are known. A specific advert or move on your part in response to an add is instantly known of and tied to you directly in time and space. HUGE difference.

  • by Ieshan ( 409693 ) <ieshan@@@gmail...com> on Saturday November 17, 2001 @05:12PM (#2579286) Homepage Journal
    Yeah, but here's the real question.

    Supposing OnStar can track where your car is, can't it also track acceleration and velocity and all that? I mean, supposing there's a sale at a Bob's Stores. It flashes the Ad.

    Now, supposing you slow down and turn into the Bob's Stores parking lot. OnStar, technically, could save this information as specific to your vehicle. An entry in their big database that says "Customer 84392 will respond to advertising in this catagory."

    What it all seems like is one big cyber-snoop service, tracking where you really are and advertising towards your patterns. A waste of car battery just like the new limewire ads are a waste of processing power.

    Now, OnStar could say they won't do this, but you know it'll happen. It's a perfect advertising scheme. They'd know exactly what kind of driver and shopper you were dependant on what stores and advertisements you listened to and responded to.

    Predictor at Large
    • I was thinking the same thing.

      I'm wondering if they'll change their advertisement volume/tone-of-voice depending on the drivers habits, too. For example, when websites don't generate enough ad clickthru's, they start putting big fscking obnoxious ads on the page. If the OnStar people find out enough folks aren't suddenly stopping by radio shack to get the newest batteries on sale, I wonder if they'll make the voice louder and more obnoxious. akin to web ads.

      But of course, OnStar is a service people pay for, so if they get really annoying, people will just stop buying it. Don't know if you already bought a car with it if you can cancel service.

    • Quote from the article: OnStar, by far the biggest service with 1.5 million users, says it makes note of a car's location only in an emergency or when a driver makes contact with the service. The OnStar system is built into many G.M. models and the high-end Honda Acura models; the service is free for the first year.

      "The privacy and the confidentiality of our subscribers are of the utmost importance," said Don Butler, the OnStar vice president in charge of the new Virtual Advisor service. "We're not going to be in a situation where we are tracking the location of a vehicle. We just don't think that's what consumers are looking for."

      If you read more, it sounds like they don't keep track at all where you go, so it would take quite a change to catalogue the travel of 1.5 million vehicles, updating every second.

      Apparently, OnStar does not have "their big database" that you speak of.

      Besides, this isn't advertising like you know it, the article mentions telling the person the gas station in the area with the lowest price, and maybe if the person was asked to be notified if they past a store with something they were looking for in stock. I doubt it is going to bombard with a plethora of advertisements everytime you drive by a Walmart. For one, it is too distracting to the driver, and they know people don't want that. You can't sell a product people don't want.

    • That's a good point.. can they target ads to an individual car? If so, this could be a great service.

      The evil of advertising is not that it's so frequent or intrusive, but that it's so frequently intrusive and *irrelevant*.

      If OnStar kept a database of my likes and dislikes, and only targeted ads based on my preferences.. that's not spam, that's valuable information! I like Seafood. If I drive into a new city, and I get a list of seafood restaurants nearby with Zagats reviews, that's VALUABLE! If it shows me McDonalds Filet-o-fish ads, it's history. Even more valuable would be listing the closest stores that have a particular product I'm looking for *in stock*.

      I doubt very much that this is what the OnStar ads will be like today, but you can imagine such a service being implemented in the not so distant future.
      • That personal information about your likes and dislikes is part of a larger puzzle...YOU. Such information can be used to create a profile of you in your entirety, not just your shopping habits. The more information, seemingly irrelevant, that a single entity or group of collaborating entities obtain, the easier it is to piece together a FULL personal profile on you that goes well beyond your like of good coffee or music CDs.

        There is a balance that can get seriously out of whack with this personal information. The good thing (tm) of having your interests served by targeted advertising of only that stuff you are interested in is counter-balanced by a wider evil of a corporate entity (or bad player(s) within such an entity) creating a full personal profile on you as a person.

        Since it appears that you have no problem with this idea, perhaps you would permit me to rumage through your drawers, checkbook, bank statements, library, software, diary or journal, and a record all your phonecalls? I promise I wont do anything with any information I obtain. I just want to know EXACTLY who you are without the filter of your personal idea of who you are. I may, on occassion, use the information to manipulate you into doing something I would like you to do but that is as far as it goes, I promise.

  • by Cylix ( 55374 ) on Saturday November 17, 2001 @05:13PM (#2579289) Homepage Journal
    Lost again! Drat!

    Oh please OnStar gods help me!

    "Hello, OnStar BOFH here"

    Yeah, I'm lost, I'm trying to find 1234 Bovine...

    "No Problem Sir..."
    "Up on your right there is a WalMart, do you see it?"

    Uh, yeah, sure... but what...

    "Pull into the parking lot so I might give you some indepth instructional proceedures."


    "WalMart is having a special on Remington Pump Shotguns, they normally retail for..."

    Wait, I need to get to...

    "Sure, proceed north for 3 miles and I'll alert you when you reach THAT destination."

    "On your right is a StarBucks giving a special discount to OnStar Customers!"

    I really really need to get to 1234 bovine...
    There is a really important meeting that I must attend, if I don't make it, it could mean the end of my career and all dreams!

    "Oh that sounds important..."

    Um, sir, this looks like the same walmart I was at an hour ago. My god, the meeting is over... I'm ruined! What is your problem!

    "You've reached WalMart, home of the Wally arsenal collection! Your profile suggests this would be perfect"


    How much were those shotguns?
  • Certainly opens a few possible 'revenue opportunities' for those in the advertising sector. Whether it will catch on is another matter. From a commercial standpoint it's great to advertise to those most likely to buy from you (and if they are nearby, so much the better).

    However it's going to be difficult to sell advertising space to reach, lets say, the one unfortunate bastard in the whole state who has bought Onstar and happens to pass by everyday as he leaves his house...

    And anyway, as a private individual, I abhor the idea of yet more corporate 'throat-stuffing' as I go about my daily business.

  • by selectspec ( 74651 ) on Saturday November 17, 2001 @05:20PM (#2579316)


    K.I.T. Michael, there's a 40% discount sale at the "Spank Your Pants" Adult Bookstore in that strip mall to the right.

    M. Knight Excellent Kit! Go to "pursuit" mode.

  • Come to Chuck's Garage. We'll disconnect this bloody thing.

    Run in fear! Buy Tickets! It's Harry Potter's box office. [lostbrain.com]
  • Scenario: A man is driving the family to a nice dinner in the minivan. He drives past a shady section of town. Suddenly, an advert for a nearby adult 'alternative lifestyle' gentlemen's club that he frequents comes on the speakers. It's even displayed on the navigation screen. At the very end, the announcer quickly says the terms and conditions, then says that the ad was chosen because of the number of times his car has been parked close to the store.
  • Wahoo! I don't have enough spam as it is. Think about this. You wake up in the morning, take a shower, check email before you head to work and are instantly bombarded with spam. %90 of the messages you received are spam and are mostly for disgusting porn sites. You then go to your car hear nothing but ads on the radio, your On-star then goes off every 30 seconds with annoying ads as you drive near a mall or downtown district. For me, living in New York city, I bet it will probably go off every 10 seconds where I am constantly surrounded by stores! Then you get to work and guess what? Then you get even more spam. Your corporate email will be loaded with spam and your co-workers with beepers will receive spam! Imagine being at work when your beeper goes off displaying spam and you or your employer has to pay $.15 for each spam ad you receive! I just can't take it anymore! This is becoming a sad reality. I hear the old Monty Python song spam going off in my head right now as I type this.

    If I had one of these things in my car, I would probably rip it out with my own bare hands! How intrusive can you get! With email you can just ignore it or click on it and delete it. But with verbal harassment's ...oops I mean verbal spam that you can not shut off its, its 100 times as worse. Thats right. You can't turn On-star off! It will just go on and on to your ears go deaf or you go nuts! If On-star ever does this they will commit corporate. No one would possible want a constant spam machine in there cars. I do not like distractions when I am driving. Especially ones that are verbal. All I have to say is that I am sorry for On-star owners who are reading this right now.

    I remember not too long ago that you can have your access to the internet could be terminated for spamming. You could be flamed or kicked out of a newsgroup for spamming only a single spam ad. Seriously. Spamming was very bad. Just ask any old timer. The internet and especially the newsgroups section of it were created for schools and institutions to share and exchange ideas and to promote learning. Today its being banned from schools thanks to porn spams. I was on dejanews recently and I saw actual pedophile spam ads. If I had kids I definitely would not want them to log on to the newsgroups today. What a shame.
  • The european union has decided that:
    • sending spam via SMS to cellular phones is illegal (strange: the sender aka spammer will pay the bill)
    • sending spam via e-mail is legal (here the innocent receiver has to pay the BIG part of the bandwith involved)
    • persistent cookies are illegal (only session cookies are allowed)
    • nothing about spyware (as if it were less intrusive than cookies!!!)
    More here: Heise Online [heise.de]

    long live our clueless politicians!


  • My first reaction was now they've gone and completely screwed up a good product. I was considering getting one of these but if they're going to bombard me with ads, forget it.

    My second reaction, upon seeing it is opt-in, is who's stupid enough to sign up for this?
    • Re:First reaction (Score:4, Interesting)

      by aozilla ( 133143 ) on Saturday November 17, 2001 @06:40PM (#2579564) Homepage

      My second reaction, upon seeing it is opt-in, is who's stupid enough to sign up for this?

      The yellow pages is opt-in advertising, but people still use it every day to find out the locations of certain types of stores. All they have to do is get a large enough number of stores to participate so that I can say "Onstar, where is the nearest pizza place. Place an order for a large pepperoni pie.", and there will be plent of people signing up for it. Hell, I'd probably consider signing up for it, if it was free like the yellow pages.

  • Too weird (Score:2, Interesting)

    All the in car nav systems I have seen/used always pop up a box warning the driver not to use the system while driving. I guess this allows the manufacturer to disclaim liability problems that might happen for accidents with claims like "I was looking at my nav system when I hit x..."

    So on the one hand we are discouraged to use the device then driving around, and to only look it at to get directions, but now the device is going to be advertising junk - trying to get our attention?

    Seems like a liable case waiting to happen, unless it only displays spam when the vehicle is detected to be stationary (which would make the spam low volume->not spam).
  • Will it find me a parking space, park my car, watch the kids, and beep loudly at me until I find the right door to the sellers location?

    No? Then I ain't stoppin in the middle of town.

  • On-Star in the Bat Mobile?

    Duh-nun-nunna-duh-nuh-nunna BAT SPAM!!!
  • But it's not spam!

    It's "targetted advertising." :-)
  • by Junior J. Junior III ( 192702 ) on Saturday November 17, 2001 @05:57PM (#2579430) Homepage
    Judging on the areas I have to drive through to get to work, I'll be receiving lots and lots of ads for where I can buy the purest heroin and the cheapest automatic weapons...
  • If you want to buy an LT model truck or sport ute (LT = heated, pleather, power seats in addition to all other options on truck), you have to get OnStar. There is no way for me to purchase the GM vehicle I want without buying onstar, and then having the burden of removing it and ordering a panel for the next trim level down to fill the hole.
    • If you buy an SUV, you deserved to be spammed while driving.
      • No shit. Anyone who buys a luxury truck...
        • No shit. Anyone who buys a luxury truck...

          Exactly what is the problem that you have with me owning a "luxury" pickup?

          Is it because it gets 5mpg less than your car, sit stoo high, or am I just going against the "active lifestyle" theme of pickup ownership by having ordered mine with leather seats and ass warmers?

          Who are you to question what kind of vehicle someone else drives?
    • The OnStar that is on most pickup trucks and SUVs, isn't the one with the pretty screen and Internet access, that is usually an additional charge ontop of your standard OnStar services. You may want to check into which OnStar package you are getting in those trucks. Most OnStar is just your standard help line and gps, stuff like that, but no Internet access.
    • Also, unless you pay the $200-$300 a year fee to use OnStar services (which the $200 package is mostly emergency services). You don't get to use it. I would actually assume the OnStar device itself doesn't add to the cost of that package much, and may even be included free as far as pricing is concerned, so by not using it, you aren't losing anything.
  • I go to another town and hear advertising for that town! Yeah!

    Of course for some reason the radio stations don't seem to need to track my every movement, or make me pay to recieve their ads, but hey this is progress!
  • well thats cool, now sicne onstar is lining its pockets with ad money, it will be a free service...right, right??? RIGHT?!

    i cant tell you how badly this sits with me...
  • Seriously... usually advertising helps pay for something the user gets for free... eg. TV shows, access to mapquest, things like that.

    Will the price of OnStar be lower because of this? Or will this end up being another thing like cable, where you pay an enourmous amount of money for something that used to be done for free to the enduser, but now you pay AND get commercials.

  • simple solution (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Lumpy ( 12016 ) on Saturday November 17, 2001 @06:32PM (#2579537) Homepage
    Dont buy Onstar. Buy an aftermarket Nav system that isn't going to rob you blind monthly and then for the quarterly navigation disc updates. (Nothing like a forced upgrade.. your navdisks are too old, please replace them with a newer version...)

    There are several Car computing/navigation systems out there. Hell if you want one that is cheap but the first one out there buy an autopc off of ebay. (Dont pay any more than $600.00 for a new one with gps and nav... I've seen them at the "super deals that cost $5.00 to get in" around here for $550.00 with software.)

    The biggest problem with most of these navigation systems is that they use the really crappy maps from navtech corperation.. They make the worst map database on the planet... if the city is below 1,000,000 in population it isn't on the disc. and errors will stay there for years before they fix them.

    The best nav-system I saw was a Q-pc car computing platform running linux and then running delorme with wine... it rocked, and the 4 year old disc database was perfectly useable if you were interested in addresses or routes...

    only problem is that the Q-pc with display is about $3000.00.... ICK... anyone have a nice 4.5 inch 800X600 TFT lcd that can withstand -60degF and has touchscreen? I'll design the vehicle mounted computer. :-)
  • Now that OnStar exports the real-time location data, there must be a rather massive data stream somewhere.

    Now suppose I were to intercept that stream. I've always been able to find out data about your car from the DMV (tag #s, VIN, etc). I could then filter that stream for YOUR car, and know where you are at all times. Perhaps I could track you, and notice that you go down a country road everyday on the way to work.

    It is a known method of the Mafia to kill people by placing a bomb in a road, and blowing up your car. Now, I could use that data stream to set up my device in a pothole on that country road without ever following you. Nobody ever sees me. I arm the mine with an RF link when you get near it, and it's all over.
  • In other news... (Score:2, Informative)

    by MBCook ( 132727 )
    In other news tonight, over 75% of OnStar subscribers are considdering canceling the service, or maybe just driving into the store window "to your left that has a great sale on plus size jeanes."
  • According to a poll at saab.com, 70% of current OnStar users do NOT plan on renewing their service after the first free year.
    I know I won't - it's cute, but not worth the $$. They want $0.50/min for cell phone use on top of the annual fee! The GPS data is only available to the call center and the thing can't even set the time in the car!
    This debacle was obviously created by a Marketing committe.
  • by rknop ( 240417 ) on Saturday November 17, 2001 @07:22PM (#2579650) Homepage

    ...this just confirms that "a map" may be the best navigation system out there, if only because it's quiet.

    And "a book" may be the best way to read a book, because you can carry it with you and read it wherever, even without violating the law.

    What I'm afraid of is the day where you can't get 99% of the books in paper, and where cars come with always-on navigation and "security monitoring" systems which blare ads at you without your ability to stop it.

    I'm not afraid of technology. I'm afraid of the dunderheads we have running our world, and what they will do with technology (or anything else).


  • Well, you know what I'm gonna do, right? If I ever get a car with On Star, that thing is coming off. Even before the smog stuff.

  • How it works (Score:2, Interesting)

    by GMwrench ( 211439 )
    Let me preface I'm a Chevrolet mechanic.
    First Onstar uses the car's speakers. It stops the radio feed then the Onstar operator can speak to you through them. I don't think GM will brake into the radio signal just to send an add, sense this will only piss off paying customers. You have to pay for Onstar. The first year is free but after that it's a subscription.
    Now how it works. It has 3 parts a GPS sender, a cell phone receiver, and a control module. The GPS sensor records the car's position. The control module calls the Onstar center every 10 minutes if memory serves. It will also send messages such as the air bag has gone off and the operator can call you assuming you still have power. There are also blue Onstar and red emergency buttons you can press to initiate a call.
    Now there is a lot of Big Brother things that can be done with this system but I don?t think Spam is one that GM would stoop to. However I wouldn?t do anything illegal in an Onstar equipped vehicle.
  • by CaptainSuperBoy ( 17170 ) on Saturday November 17, 2001 @10:06PM (#2580018) Homepage Journal
    No, OnStar is NOT going to deliver in-car spam. If you read the article, you'd read that 'OnStar, by far the biggest service with 1.5 million users, says it makes note of a car's location only in an emergency or when a driver makes contact with the service.' 'OnStar seems more interested in advertising that is tied to content.' The title of this story is blatantly incorrect, and the write-up is very misleading.

    Onstar is considering putting ads that are related to their content, such as ads for a brokerage if you're getting stock quotes. That's pretty far from 'in-car spam' based on tracking your location.

    The only thing in the article that resembles this is the 'gas station locator' by Wingcast, a service which hasn't even been launched yet. It would notify you when your car runs low on gas, and give you directions to gas stations. It's a useful feature, and I'm sure you'll have to sign up for it before they send you gas station ads.

    Personally I'd object to ads mixed in with a service that I paid good money for, even if they're not based on your location. For a few hundred dollars a year, I expect a service that's free of annoyances. A gas station locator isn't an annoyance, it's a feature.
  • Pushing (Score:3, Informative)

    by Faux_Pseudo ( 141152 ) <Faux.Pseudo@nOsPam.gmail.com> on Saturday November 17, 2001 @11:12PM (#2580135) Homepage
    In the ad world this is known as pushing. The concept is to put ads where you never got them before. Cell phone, pager, and car when the radio is off, etc. They want you to see ads in church, on the beach, in the shower, and NASA is working on allowing commercial sponsorship of space missions. Can you see the Pepsi logo on the side of a rocket? I can.
    It will get much worse. You know that networked refrigerator they keep telling us is going to come? It too will have ads.
    Free software has ads. Spending on advertising is going down as people become trained to ignore them. Just 10 years ago there where 2 less minutes of commercials per 30 minutes of programming. You now see 6 times the number of ads you did 10 years ago (sorry can't think of the source).

    Ads are getting more intrusive by the day. Remember when you would get your receipt and it would have coupons on the back? Those are too easy to tune out. Now you get a separate piece of paper with coupons on it.

    You used to buy something and it would come with a free gift. That free gift has turned into a discount somewhere else. More advertising.

    When will this change? It won't. What can you do to avoid all of this? Nothing. Well nothing unless you live like I do, which is not recommended.
    o Text based browser.
    o No pager
    o No cell phone
    o TV is not plugged in
    o no VCR
    o no DVD
    o Listen to NPR, the ads here are even getting an out of hand for "commercial free programming"
    o don't own a car
    You see fewer ads on the bus because you can bury your head in a book and not have you eyes locked on the road where all those billboards, A-frame signs, and faux-hot-air balloons are.
    o Don't shop at the big stores. Hit the thrift stores and antique stores.
    o Eat at mom and pop places and not places with BigThemePark adverts on the tray liners, YBotherBox adds on the drinks and movie tie ins on the to go bags.
    o and the list goes on.

    To explain, no there is too much, let me sum up: This should come as no surprise.
  • Dial TellMe at 1-800-555-8355, say "driving directions", and get driving directions interspersed with ads. Even worse, sometimes you get the ads even though the driving directions system is down.

    TellMe also offers movie tickets via Fandango, which in my experience has something go wrong in almost every transaction. (Today: six minutes of voice interaction and credit card entry leads to "an unexpected error occured, transferring you to customer service... wait time at least ten minutes...").

    I think the challenge of the post-Internet era is to re-implement the better ideas so that they don't suck.

"Wish not to seem, but to be, the best." -- Aeschylus