TomTom says it won't sell data to police, then changes its mind

Last week we reported that GPS maker TomTom was selling customer data to the police in the Netherlands who were then taking that data and using it to setup speed traps in order to increase their revenue. Harold Goddijn, CEO of the company, posted an apology letter on the TomTom website stating, “TomTom fully understands some of customers do not like this and we will amend the licensing conditions to stop this type of usage in near future.

While this was seen as a small victory for privacy rights, it appears that not everyone at TomTom agrees. The Australian Financial Review is reporting that Chris Kearney, Vice President of marketing, is not ruling out selling the data to officials in Australia. According to Mr. Kearney, the company is preparing to distribute the data but is still waiting to hit a critical mass of information which should occur soon. The VP also dismisses the privacy fears because all users are required to opt-in and TomTom can only see the starting position, ending position, and the time taken in between.

The fact that people have to officially opt-in to the program does not mean that everyone is aware of what data they are providing. A recent study shows that more than 50% of users spent less than eight seconds on the EULA page, meaning we are conditioned to simply click “accept” and move on with our lives. While this may legally constitute opting in, it does not mean that users are willingly providing this data. Australian Privacy Foundation Roger Clarke agrees, saying that users should have to “selectively opt in to the scheme.”

As long as there is money to be made off of the habits of consumers, expect companies to continue abusing their powers.

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28 Comments

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Well, I'm glad I just use Google Maps & Navigation on my smartphone instead of of a dedicated SatNav such as TomTom. At least I can be assured that my location and my data is in safe hands...

kev_gordon said,
Well, I'm glad I just use Google Maps & Navigation on my smartphone instead of of a dedicated SatNav such as TomTom. At least I can be assured that my location and my data is in safe hands...

lol

If you stick to obeying the traffic laws and don't risk the safety of yourself and others you won't have any problems with this to begin with.

.Neo said,
If you stick to obeying the traffic laws and don't risk the safety of yourself and others you won't have any problems with this to begin with.

Neo, if the issue is privacy then this has no bearing. I'm sure there are many positive uses for this type of tracking, however the whole point of privacy in my opinion is that no one can control how this information is used. If we accept this as normal now in the future what chance do we have against the government in situations similar to Tunisia, Lybia and Egypt where the government used all of its power to oppress the people. What's to stop apple or the authorities to turn on the camera, or the microphone from time to time, for law enforcement purposes of course. This isn't about conspiracy theories, this is about privacy.

Wietze said,
I don't see the problem in selling anonymous data to the police? Since it is _anonymous_ data...

yes but in the long run it will hurt you.. if there's a certain road where everyone speeds a little more often than not, and there's never any police there, the police then know to go to that spot and wait for you sitting ducks.

booboo said,
if there's a certain road where everyone speeds a little more often than not, and there's never any police there, the police then know to go to that spot and wait for you sitting ducks.

True, but maybe it is a better idea to not exceed the maximum speed limits?

Wietze said,

True, but maybe it is a better idea to not exceed the maximum speed limits?

Exactly, most people speed from time to time but if you ever get caught you've got nobody to blame but yourself.

Wietze said,
I don't see the problem in selling anonymous data to the police? Since it is _anonymous_ data...

Anonymous data... Tell me, if the start point is my driveway, how anonymous is this exactly?

Instead of getting all hot-under-the-collar TAKE ACTION.

Go to
http://www.tomtom.com/en_gb/legal/privacy/

Then, e-mail them commenting that if true this report is in clear breach of their privacy terms (the ones you agreed to) and that, unless you receive an assurance that this will not happen, you will lodge a complaint with ... (whoever in your country is responsible to regulatory compliance). In the UK try ...
http://www.ofcom.org.uk

BTW, I don't own a TomTom but am concerned at the increasing "Nazification" of our society and believe we must ALL push back.

Rights are won, not given

you guys know yo ucan opt out of that annonymous reporting, right? it clearly gives you the option to not send them your speed/travel data.

It's one thing to give the data to "help traffic problems" but it's a whole other story to be selling the data. Why is the government BUYING data to help them give out tickets? Tickets are supposed to help safety, not be a frickin business!

Trueblue711 said,
It's one thing to give the data to "help traffic problems" but it's a whole other story to be selling the data. Why is the government BUYING data to help them give out tickets? Tickets are supposed to help safety, not be a frickin business!

speed camera fines are just pure revenue gathering nothing to do with safety but hey If your silly enough to speed then get caught who fault is it theirs no it's yours

Trueblue711 said,
It's one thing to give the data to "help traffic problems" but it's a whole other story to be selling the data. Why is the government BUYING data to help them give out tickets? Tickets are supposed to help safety, not be a frickin business!
They want to know which places have the most speeders so as to know where placing cameras/radar guns would be most effective.

I have a Tom Tom, starting to die out on me and I doubt I'm going to replace it anytime soon, but if I ever do get another GPS, it WON'T be a TOMTOM, now that I know they are selling data from users gps units. as if they don't make enough obscene profit from their constant map updates.

SPEhosting said,
thank god i changed to garmin (the tomtom tried to kill me twice anyway.... garmin only tried to lead me into a busy road once )

That says more about you than Tomtom (or Garmin)

How can TomTom not see that selling End point and Start point data is extremely sensitive personal data. With that info, I can peg where a user lives, what their workplace is, where they shop, what frequency they shop there, when they tend to be out of the house and more. I hope their users complain in Aussie land and that TomTom listen

Sraf said,
How can TomTom not see that selling End point and Start point data is extremely sensitive personal data. With that info, I can peg where a user lives, what their workplace is, where they shop, what frequency they shop there, when they tend to be out of the house and more. I hope their users complain in Aussie land and that TomTom listen

Some how I don't think just any Joe Blogs off the street can purchase this data

Athlonite said,

Some how I don't think just any Joe Blogs off the street can purchase this data

Doesn't matter. Somebody can, and all it takes is one stupid person to let all the collated data leak out

Sraf said,

How can TomTom not see that selling End point and Start point data is extremely sensitive personal data. With that info, I can peg where a user lives, what their workplace is, where they shop, what frequency they shop there, when they tend to be out of the house and more. I hope their users complain in Aussie land and that TomTom listen

They aren't tracking anything personally identifiable.