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.