TomTom GPS Data Sold To Cops To Help Them Setup Speedtraps

The Daily Mail in the UK is reporting that GPS giant TomTom sold data from their GPS devices to cops so that they can set up speed traps:

The firm today admitted Dutch police had obtained traffic information from the government and used it to clamp down on drivers in targetted operations.

In an emailed apology, TomTom chief executive Harold Goddijn said the company sold the anonymous data believing it would be used to improve safety or relieve traffic bottlenecks.

‘We never foresaw this kind of use and many of our clients are not happy about it,’ he wrote.

He promised licensing agreements would ‘prevent this type of use in the future’.

TomTom devices gather a vehicle’s speed information automatically. This data is then backed up on a database so the satnav firm can improve their products’ performance.

Now, I could easily say that we should boycott TomTom devices. But let’s take a step back and look at this critically. First, you have to believe that other companies have likely done or are doing the same thing. After all, this data is extremely valuable. So until other GPS companies come out and say where they stand on the data that they collect from the GPS units of customers, you have to assume that they’re all doing this. I could be wrong, but I seriously doubt it. Second as I’ve said previously, privacy in 2011 doesn’t exist. Deal with it.

Having said all of that. I’m currently in the market for a GPS unit for my car. The first company that comes out with a clear privacy policy when it comes to this sort of data, gets my money. So, Garman, TomTom, Magellan, or anybody else in GPS industry can feel free to e-mail me and point me towards their privacy policy. You can also tell me why your policy protects my privacy better than the rest. The winner gets some press in my blog and my hard earned dollars.

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