Thursday, April 28, 2011

Forget Apple and Google - how about TomTom?

I'm sure most readers are familiar with the controversy that erupted this week over reports that Apple's iPhone and iPad, and smartphones using Google's Android operating system are surreptitiously recording details of the phones' locations, for reasons not made clear by these companies.

It now emerges that these companies aren't the only ones recording such information about their users - in fact, others are even making it available to governments! The GPS firm TomTom has just been caught red-handed doing so in Holland.

Satnav device manufacturer TomTom has apologised for selling customer data which police then used to set 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.

. . .

TomTom's statement said: 'We make this information available to local governments and authorities.

'It helps them to better understand where congestion takes place, where to build new roads and how to make roads safer.

'We are now aware that the police have used traffic information that you have helped to create to place speed cameras at dangerous locations where the average speed is higher than the legally allowed speed limit.

'We are aware a lot of our customers do not like the idea and we will look at if we should allow this type of usage.'

There's more at the link.

I'd love to know whether the same thing is going on here in the USA. This might be a fruitful line of inquiry for investigative journalists . . .



Anonymous said...

'We never foresaw this kind of use' Really, Mr. Goddjin? Then you are either willfully ignorant or tragically blind.

And I agree with you Peter. A good journalist or blogger should do some digging on this.

trailbee said...

That guy is either very stupid or brain-dead! In today's world? I hope he's not procreating! :)

Anonymous said...

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

Ahem: Bullshit.