Suspicious spouses used to have to shell out hundreds or thousands of dollars on private investigators to keep tabs on their significant other, but a new feature from General Motors' OnStar division can do it for just over a dime a day.
The new service, dubbed Family Link, allows owners of OnStar-equipped vehicles from Chevrolet, GMC, Buick and Cadillac to track a family member through the OnStar website and receive email and text alerts when the vehicle arrives at a location or at a specific time.
OnStar vice president of subscriber services, Joanne Finnom, says Family Link is something subscribers have been asking for, and last year the company responded, enlisting 4,500 OnStar customers to test the service. Family Link was a hit, with Finnom saying the testers "told us it provides them peace of mind by staying connected to their family when they're on the road."
Family Link is being pitched to parents who want to keep tabs on their kids – the latest in a long series of products targeting minors with no legal recourse – but it could be used to track anyone driving an OnStar-equipped vehicle enrolled in the service. But with all location tracking services, the privacy and security implications are murky at best.
OnStar representative Cheryl McCarron concedes that, "We are depending on subscribers to tell other family members that they've enabled the service on the vehicle," but that's an obvious leap in trust, not to mention the security issues surrounding multiple family members having access to a shared account with one username and password.
Account security aside, the larger issue is maintaining a balance between anonymity and security, and as Higgins points out, "It's important to remember that you can provide a service that is valuable and useful and still be violating people's privacy."
OnStar’s Family Link enables spousal spying and parental monitoring.