TomTom sends your data to the police

It seems that living off the grid is becoming more and more difficult with every electronic device apparently monitoring your location and sending information back to the parent company. Today’s privacy breach is courtesy of GPS maker TomTom, who just announced to their customers that they send travel data, including location and speed, to the “government and authorities.” According to TomTom’s CEO, this data has been used by local law enforcement to identify roads that have a high number of people driving over the speed limit in order to decide where to place speed trap cameras.

Based on the company’s message, it appears that TomTom only sends out anonymous data that can’t be tracked back to an individual user. The flaw in the logic is that since most people start using their GPS at their home, it would be trivial to identify the driver based on a consistent starting and ending location. With that information in hand, could police start sending out speeding tickets based on the GPS data, thus saving the costs of having to implement cameras at all? Although this isn’t going to happen overnight, it’s something that we need to think about going into the future.

As consumers, we are constantly giving away more and more of our personal privacy. Will there be a tipping point where people demand this privacy and will turn away from the electronic creature comforts in order to obtain it? Or are we too far down the rabbit hole to turn back now?

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Will customers demand privacy?

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S7un7 said,

-In most cases it's not the speed that kills; it's the DIFFERENCE in speed. If you are going 70mph and hit someone going 70mph, the force you hit them with will be far less than someone doing 70mph hitting another person doing 55mph. Believe it or not but it's the one idiot doing 55mph while everyone else is going 70mph that makes things unsafe.

facepalm.

Slow drivers ARE NOT GUILTY, they are annoying but nothing more.

Accidents are caused by those fast-and-idiot drivers that plague our highways, specially those irresponsible that do slalom.

Magallanes said,

facepalm.

Slow drivers ARE NOT GUILTY, they are annoying but nothing more.

Accidents are caused by those fast-and-idiot drivers that plague our highways, specially those irresponsible that do slalom.

You're not thinking about both sides. Yes the slow driver is obeying the law, I acknowledge that. On the other hand, that person is causing all the other drivers to make aggressive and stupid maneuvers because they are not going with the flow of traffic. There will ALWAYS be people that speed. If someone is not going with the flow of traffic they are creating a more dangerous situation than the people that are speeding. There will always be idiots out there that weave in and out of cars. I do agree that is completely irresponsible.

S7un7 said,

You're not thinking about both sides. Yes the slow driver is obeying the law, I acknowledge that. On the other hand, that person is causing all the other drivers to make aggressive and stupid maneuvers because they are not going with the flow of traffic. There will ALWAYS be people that speed. If someone is not going with the flow of traffic they are creating a more dangerous situation than the people that are speeding. There will always be idiots out there that weave in and out of cars. I do agree that is completely irresponsible.

Which in most sates in the US is in fact illegal. So yea they are breaking the law.

war said,
Which in most sates in the US is in fact illegal. So yea they are breaking the law.

Yes, and other than on the highway I go the speed limit + or - 5mph. Personally I would rather break the law by going with the flow of traffic than be rear ended or cut off by an aggressive driver. I know the law is the law but in some cases you need to adjust your driving to cater to other drivers so you don't make a dangerous situation more dangerous.

This just gives me an even better reason to not use TomTom. Their software is crap anyways. I've been a very happy Garmin customer and it will not change anytime soon. As to the OP, you speak like a true brainwashed American that has had it drilled into his brain that what "the man" says is gold and we should listen to "the man" and love Him and respect Him as he only has it in our best interest. You like many other U.S. citizens have been brainwashed to not think for themselves and always need to be spoon-fed. Time and time again this has been proven that speed RARELY plays a factor in car accidents and deaths (except mindless street racing). Usually it is drunk drivers or drivers that have gotten their license by buying their examiner a big bouquet of flowers and a bottle of scotch.

ManOfMystery said,
Time and time again this has been proven that speed RARELY plays a factor in car accidents and deaths (except mindless street racing).

Well ... no.

RichardK sounds like a grumpy old 8!tch! I guess RichardK has ALWAYS done the speed limit and NEVER exceeded it! That would be BREAKING THE LAW! <---- (Steve Langford voice) Is that about right RichardK?

I am sure TomTom wouldn't do this if they didn't have to. TomTom is a Dutch company, and in the Netherlands they have very strict privacy laws, far stricter than the US laws.

You may want t check your state laws. Some states require (and even post) that if if have more than 5 cars stacked up behind you are obstructing traffic and must pull over to let the traffic clear. The charge on the ticket is "obstructing traffic". Those states have done studies that show that obstructing the flow of traffic cause more accidents because people have to change lanes and pass on the right.

How is the speed computed by GPS ?
If this is done by the difference of 2 positions divided by time it is very inaccurate : each position is given with an error between 50 and 100 meters by my Tomtom !

And why are we learning about this now? Is TomTom the only manufacturer that is doing that? Because if they're the only one, then... Buh bye TomTom and Hello to Magellan (or any other good alternatives out there)

With that information in hand, could police start sending out speeding tickets based on the GPS data, thus saving the costs of having to implement cameras at all?
No. No they could not. What kind of ridiculous fearmongering is this?

JamesWeb said,
No. No they could not. What kind of ridiculous fearmongering is this?

The type that manipulates people and sells tabloids.

It looks like it's time to get a new GPS!

You know, it would be funny if the police sent you a letter saying you sped @ 200 km/h as you left the car on a ferry ride accross the river. LOL.

"The flaw in the logic is that since most people start using their GPS at their home, it would be trivial to identify the driver based on a consistent starting and ending location. With that information in hand, could police start sending out speeding tickets based on the GPS data, thus saving the costs of having to implement cameras at all?"

And the flaw in that logic is that TomTom never said they send complete route history tied up with unique ID to the authorities. They said they send *aggregated* anonymous speed at location values - not driver X UID=12312312 started at location Y and drove to location Z. Talking about jumping to conclusions type of 'journalism'. Say wasn't Neowin's motto 10 years ago 'where unprofessional journalism looks better'?

I think it's a good thing to identify trouble spots, especially when you see reports of a particular road being used as a motorway that resulted in deaths!

It's impossible for GPS to be used as an official way of verifying if someone is speeding, it's far too inaccurate unless the object is stationary.

Once the European Global Navigation Satellite System (Galileo) comes online, then yes it could be possible.

Jesse Moore said,
It's impossible for GPS to be used as an official way of verifying if someone is speeding, it's far too inaccurate unless the object is stationary.

Once the European Global Navigation Satellite System (Galileo) comes online, then yes it could be possible.

No need. An integrated car navigation system can read and store data directly from the speedometer and record it together with the lat/long coordinates at regular intervals.

I'd be happy as heck if cops actually started busting people for going to slow.

I do the speed limit, period. No faster, no slower and yes, I DO go over the speed limit to get around some one, but slow right back down to speed limit.

The general rule USED to be you were more or less allowed 5mph over just for the simple fact of the speedometers accuracy, but I see a lot of you think WAY differently than that here.

The people that are going 10-20mph over the speed limit are just as dangerous as those people going the same under the limit. It's those speeders who are going to slam into the rear of the slow drivers because they came up on them to fast, or they are going to swiftly change lanes without looking over their shoulder because they are going to fast.

I mean, it's simple mentality here. Why do you think it called a speed LIMIT?!

And BTW,
The posted speed limit is the safe speed for driving that particular road under IDEAL conditions, NOT worst conditions!

I have some simple questions for all those who think this is surprising.

Who do you think provides the GPS satellites?
Who pays to maintain them?
How much do you pay per month for your GPS service?
Why do you think they provide this service for free, when we all know nothing is for free?
So, who has free access to all of our GPS habits regardless of GPS manufacturer?

Invizibleyez said,
I have some simple questions for all those who think this is surprising.

Who do you think provides the GPS satellites?
Who pays to maintain them?
How much do you pay per month for your GPS service?
Why do you think they provide this service for free, when we all know nothing is for free?
So, who has free access to all of our GPS habits regardless of GPS manufacturer?

Erm, you do know the difference between a GPS receiver and a GPS transceiver, right? I understand you're trying to say that the evil U.S. government/military provide GPS for free to control the brainwashed population, but a GPS chip in a phone does not transmit back anything - it only received a publicly available signal - sort of like FM radio.

You can very easily opt-out of sending data, plus this story omits a lot of facts. Such as how this was with the Dutch police and how the Dutch police were NOT USING IT AS THEY WERE SUPPOSED TO. They MISUSED the information to set up speedtraps.

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