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TomTom sold user data to police, motorists then targeted with speed traps…

Following reports that TomTom had sold traffic data collected from GPS device users to police who then used it to determine locations for speed traps, the company has issued a statement and video in an effort to appease angry customers.

In the video, TomTom CEO Harold Goodijn stresses that the tracking of its devices is voluntary and that customers can choose not to allow it. He also says the data is provided anonymously, and is valuable information the company uses to improve the guidance of its devices, by identifying problem areas and routing customers around them.

Is anyone surprised by this? You have to admit, this is really clever. Get GPS data and just send out some cars to wait where everyone is speeding. When data is collected about any of us, it will be sold to the highest bidder, we are the ultimate renewable resource. Some will argue speeding is bad and this is a good use, but if most customers knew this ahead of time, would they allow this data to be used? My guess is no. TomTom has since said they’ll make sure the data is not going to be used like this again.

From our (e)mailing addresses, our clicks, to our networks of friends — we are product. I’m sure there were pages of legalese in the terms of conditions you needed to tap to operate your GPS, but no one reads those. I think we’re going to see some type of “bill of rights” for our data pretty soon, but only if we want it. Today my iPhone has an update so it doesn’t store my locations for the last year.

Post up your thoughts about this in the comments!

Phillip Torrone

Editor at large – Make magazine. Creative director – Adafruit Industries, contributing editor – Popular Science. Previously: Founded – Hack-a-Day, how-to editor – Engadget, Director of product development – Fallon Worldwide, Technology Director – Braincraft.


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