Feeds

TomTom sorry for giving customer driving data to cops

'Anonymous' info used to set speed traps

Intelligent flash storage arrays

Navigation device maker TomTom has apologized for supplying driving data collected from customers to police to use in catching speeding motorists.

The data, including historical speed, has been sold to local and regional governments in the Netherlands to help police set speed traps, Dutch newspaper AD reported here, with a Google translation here. As more smartphones offer GPS navigation service, TomTom has been forced to compensate for declining profit by increasing sales in other areas, including the selling of traffic data.

On Wednesday, Europe's biggest satnav device maker apologized, saying it sold the data believing it would improve traffic safety and reduce bottlenecks, The Associated Press reported.

“We never foresaw this kind of use and many of our clients are not happy about it,” Chief Executive Harold Goddijn wrote in an email sent to customers. He went on to say that licensing agreements in the future would “prevent this type of use in the future.”

With the revelation, TomTom becomes the latest company to raise privacy concerns about location data it holds on its customers. Over the past week, questions have been raised about Apple, Google, and Microsoft and the location data stored or tracked by the iPhone, and Android and Windows Phone 7 devices, respectively.

TomTom has said that any information it shares has been anonymized, but customers shouldn't take such assurances at face value. Past claims about the anonymity of data sometimes turn out to be horribly wrong – witness the debacles involving AOL's sharing of 20 million searches and the release of Netflix users' viewing habits. It's not hard to fathom a scenario in which data supplied by TomTom could be used to figure out sensitive information about its users, such as where they live and work. What could possibly go wrong there? ®

Bootnote

TomTom has added a statement to its website that effectively repeats CEO Goddijn's comments above.

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.

It goes on to say that collection of data is purely opt in by customers and is intended to provide them with real-time information about traffic conditions. It also repeats claims that TomTom makes all information anonymous and that the company can "never trace it back to you or your device."

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk

More from The Register

next story
SECRET U.S. 'SPACE WARPLANE' set to return from SPY MISSION
Robot minishuttle X-37B returns after almost 2 years in orbit
LOHAN crash lands on CNN
Overflies Die Welt en route to lively US news vid
You can crunch it all you like, but the answer is NOT always in the data
Hear that, 'data journalists'? Our analytics prof holds forth
Experts brand LOHAN's squeaky-clean box
Phytosanitary treatment renders Vulture 2 crate fit for export
No sail: NASA spikes Sunjammer
'Solar sail' demonstrator project binned
Carry On Cosmonaut: Willful Child is a poor taste Star Trek parody
Cringeworthy, crude and crass jokes abound in Steven Erikson’s sci-fi debut
Origins of SEXUAL INTERCOURSE fished out of SCOTTISH LAKE
Fossil find proves it first happened 385 million years ago
Human spacecraft dodge COMET CHUNKS pelting off Mars
Odyssey orbiter yet to report, though - comet's trailing trash poses new threat
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Cloud and hybrid-cloud data protection for VMware
Learn how quick and easy it is to configure backups and perform restores for VMware environments.
Three 1TB solid state scorchers up for grabs
Big SSDs can be expensive but think big and think free because you could be the lucky winner of one of three 1TB Samsung SSD 840 EVO drives that we’re giving away worth over £300 apiece.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.