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Data privacy suit filed against GM, LexisNexis and OnStar following NYT investigation

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A Florida man has filed suit against General Motors, OnStar, and LexisNexis Risk Solutions for collecting his personal data from his vehicle, allegedly negatively affecting his insurance rate.

The lawsuit comes on the heels of a New York Times investigation into similar allegations on which an article was published earlier this month. Since then, the Times reports that GM has said it will no longer sell driving data to third-party companies.

The suit, which has been filed seeking class action certification, alleges the companies invaded Romeo Chicco’s privacy by compiling “erroneous reports of derogatory and negative driving information made without Plaintiff’s knowing consent.”

In November 2021, Chicco purchased a 2021 Cadillac XT6. The purchase agreement doesn’t include anything about OnStar, LexisNexis, data-sharing, or anything privacy-related.

Shortly after purchase, Chicco downloaded the MyCadillac app to his mobile device but claims he didn’t set up Cadillac Connected Services or OnStar Safety & Security.

He began receiving diagnostic emails from OnStar and thought that was part of what’s provided by the MyCadillac app. There was no mention of data sharing with third parties, according to the complaint. Also, as of March 12, Chicco’s vehicle profile on GM’s online Cadillac Owner Center states, “Your vehicle is not connected to an OnStar Account.”

In 2023, Chicco’s carrier quit providing insurance in Florida so he began shopping around. Every time he was turned down. Finding this odd, he asked Liberty Mutual why they wouldn’t insure him. He was told because of information in a report from LexisNexis on him, according to the complaint.

Chicco requested his report from LexisNexis and in the meantime found insurance coverage, but allegedly at nearly double what he had been paying.

Once he received the report, he found that 258 driving events had been recorded under telematics. Each included the trip start dates, end dates, start times, end times, acceleration, hard braking, high speed, distance, and VIN. However, “notably absent from the consumer report is any context related to these driving events,” the complaint states.

Once contacted by Chicco, OnStar had no explanation for why his telematics data was shared without his consent. He contacted LexisNexis first who told him to talk to GM. GM allegedly passed the buck to OnStar. He contacted LexisNexis again and informed them he had never given his consent. Chicco was told he could file a dispute to have his telematics data removed.

Chicco accuses GM and OnStar in his lawsuit of collecting his data via the MyCadillac app since he never signed up for OnStar, and the data was then shared with LexisNexis.

OnStar’s privacy statement concerning third-party business relationships is “neatly hidden on their website, and made inconspicuous through the downloading of mobile applications, at worst, does not grant OnStar or GM the right to furnish car driving data to Lexis and is ambiguous at best,” the complaint states. “This scheme is deceptive, unfair, and misleading to consumers.”

The lawsuit alleges LexisNexis knowingly and/or willfully violated the Fair Credit Reporting Act by failing to maintain maximum possible accuracy of data on Chicco.

All defendants are accused of violating the Flordia Deceptive and Unfair Trade Practices Act and privacy law.

A jury trial and actual, statutory, and putative damages are sought. The suit also seeks an injunction against “further data collection and/or sharing to third parties without their consent.”

No response to the lawsuit had been filed in court by GM, OnStar, or LexisNexis as of Thursday afternoon.


Featured image credit: MF3d/iStock

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