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 …
Why is TomTom even collecting data, they have no need for this what so ever! I mean seriously, the devices have no reason for reporting anything back to TomTom. They should be fined any amounts of money they made from selling that data x2,
The do have reason to collect the data
In NL Traffic jams are a big problem. This data allows TomTom to provide very uptodate info back to motorists. This info is too of course useful and saleable to the people who manage the roads (it is also of far better quality than the data they themselves have). There is no invasion of privacy here, the only thing that went wrong is that the bonehead Dutch police saw this treasure trove of data as nothing more than a way of increasing their income.
TomTom has a service which monitors traffic speeds reported back from customer units (via their mobile phones IIRC) that is intended to help you avoid jams by directing you to an alternate use. I don't have a problem with that as it's an opt-in (and paid for) service.
However passing that data on (and, indeed selling it) is something I most certainly *do* have a problem with.
It is used to report errors
This data is used to report miss matches between the TomTom maps and the physical road.
This is why it harms us all, even if you turn it off on your own individual phone.
So therefore is also why Apple's answer of "You can always turn off location tracking" is insufficient.
Turning a blind eye to speeding harms everyone
If you get nicked for speeding then I'm glad. You're a wanker who disregards the safety of others and deserve to be caught and fined.
If TomTom is helping dickheads like you get caught then that's good.
I don't have a GPS navigator, but if I do buy one it will be a TomTom!
I know I'm feeding a troll, but idiots like you are a major problem on the road. Just because your doing the speed limit doesn't make your driving safe.
I've had many experiences of traveling 50 in a 50 and going around a corner and having to emergency break because the idiot in front was doing 30 (actually 40 but they slow for the corners).
Just because your doing 70 does not mean you can be in the middle or outside lane and just because your doing the speed limit doesn't mean you can change lanes without looking.
As a biker the people who create the most near accidents for me are those who have your viewpoint. 4 times this week I've had people doing the max speed limit incorrectly in the outside line drift over in to my lane without looking or indicating causing me to emergency brake. What is worse is half the time I've been able to see the drivers face through the passengers window and you can see how oblivious they are.
Ps "bikers" who appear only during the summer are my second biggest problem. Because they don't know how to ride a bike instead they drive it like a car and cause problems. I call them roadkill.
Is all so backwards in many respects ....
Firstly if it transpires that the data has not been anonymized then Tom Tom are in big trouble under Dutch law but it will have been I am certain. Secondly, even if it wasn't this sort of data would not be admissable for any sort of prosection.
The police have used the data to identify stretches of road where the maximum speed limit is structurally being ignored and indeed have used that information to determine where they can most effectively place speed traps. I find that odd because that could also be indicating that a given speed limit is incorrect (most people do drive safely, the loonnies are thankfully a minority, albeit a very deadly one).
On the other hand, on the way home a spokesman for motorists stated that TomtTom had sold this information to the number one enemy of motorists. I find that also a little suspect. Whilst part of the police's job is simply collecting the 'speed tax' they do also serve a useful role in reducing road deaths which makes them far from the motorists worst enemy.
The information has also been used to identify junctions that need redesigning, confusing signposting, traffic hotspots, causes of jams etc. It is not all bad ..... I would say do not throw the baby out with the bathwater here.
"a given speed limit is incorrect"
Speed limits are always correct, it's reality that is incorrect.
I've seen several stretchs of road in rural areas, surrounded by fields and without a single house around with a 50 km/h limit.
I've seen other sections that are out of the official town boundaries but densely populated (urban sprawl is quite fast) with a 90 km/h limit.
The worse is still a section with a 70 Km/h limit if you're traveling east-west and a 50 km/h limit in the other direction...
However, those limits are all correct. Don't even try to argue to anyone about those.
Aren't the devices in themselves anonymous, so in fact Tom Tom would have had to match the device with the account. Monitoring traffic flow does not require personal details, like the account, just the device, location and time/speed.
You don't get to access their "Live" services (part of which is theHD traffic service which collected this data) for free - you have a subscription account and the unit logs you in over GPRS every time you power it up.
"Take that Apple, we h4ve t3h skillz"
@Is all so backwards in many respects
Yes the police are unlikely to get a speeding conviction on the basis of this.
Of course they might add a little note to your file about you being in London on the same day as protest, or your car regularly going slowly around King's Cross late at night - just in case they ever want to 'have a word with you'
And when Tom Tom sell it to your insurance company your rates might go up a bit.
You are missing the point
We are talking the country which invented the speed camera here. No intention of conviction whatsoever (those are delivered courtesy of the devices manufactured by GatsoMeter).
The police used the database to move their speed cameras to the places where they are likely to catch someone.
By the way, they do not necessarily need a Tom Tom here. They can get the same results by asking any of the mobile companies for a daily dump of the timing advance data from GSM basestations along major routes. It is anonymised already because the mobile at that point are not using the IMSI from the SIM and already have a TIMSI issued by the network. There is no IMEI data in that either.
Import that into any half-baked BI package, run a report and voila you have all the locations where speeding is prevalent for nearly everyone and not just people with TomTom GPSes (or GPS-es for that matter).
It's wild extrapolation day if you're going to find out from those what you are after -- not the place with the most cars, but the place with the most TOO FAST cars; actually those with the most cars that are much faster than allowed.
@”What could possibly go wrong” ... GPS data
Well for a start, GPS data gives the state another way to abuse political protesters. “Your car was parked in the street each evening, on the nights of known political protester meetings, near or outside the house of a known protest leader” ... “Sorry its room 101 for you. Time to punish and beat some loyalty to the state into you”.
Then we have Adultery is illegal in some countries and so GPS driving locations can be used as evidence. "What you weren't at the office?" Thats great for crooks (and/or crooked MPs) to bribe officials with the end of their careers and/or marriages, (for "not being in the office"), to get the officials to co-operate with underhanded crooked deals.
Then how about someone sells the GPS data to advertisers, so they can find the most intrusive road side places to put up road side adverts. So ok it'll distract a few drivers and maybe even cause a few drivers to end up dying in road accidents, but hey, it'll help sell more tins of frozen veg etc.. more money money money, thats the main thing. :( … Advertisers are always thinking about themselves, not others. :(
The problem with data is that it can be abused. Its ok in theory, but in practice, human nature being what it is, without laws to protect the data and more to the point, protect peoples privacy, then without such laws, someone somewhere will exploit the leaking of data for some extra money for them and they will do it in any way they can and to hell with the consequences for anyone else. All because ultimately they are only thinking about themselves.
Oh look, TomTom wants some extra money, ok lets sell drivers privacy for more profit. :(
Haven't received my apology yet!
This is one of the reasons why I still have a -stupid- phone.
A lot of my other devices give homage to Ned Ludd.
My 'route advisor' is usually a post-it on the dashboard.
Is there nobody supplying location aware devices that isn't screwing us over?!!!
Surely speed traps should be set up where there are an excessive number of accidents. The fact people are speeding down a road that has no accidents just goes to show that the speed limit on that road is artificially low.
I know of a road round the corner from me which went from 60 to 40 a few years ago, and then had a 30 mph bit inserted in the middle. I had used the road daily to and from work, and never seen an accident. The biggest problem it had was from farmer Jones trundling down it at 20mph in his tractor sometimes, but it was big and wide so you could pass farmer Jones by making a 3rd lane in the middle, which is exactly what everyone did.
According to the local paper, the reason for the new lower limit was to make the road easier to cross, and they added pedestrian islands in the middle of the road to highlight the new pedestrian friendly nature. This of course completely ruined any chance of more than one car passing farmer Jones at a time before having to duck back in to avoid the next pedestrian island.
The whole thing falls apart when you actually see the road. It only has a pavement on one side, and some fields on the other side. Nobody want to cross to the other side! In the years since the islands appeared I have seen a grand total of zero pedestrians cross the road. They just decided to screw it up with islands nobody uses, and cause more accidents because people get irate in the traffic queues, try to overtake with the red mist descending, and invariably smash all the keep left bollards off the traffic islands! I've seen the effects of at least 5 of these accidents!
Lucky they haven't bothered plotting up with a speed camera yet. I'm sure they will as the locals generally ignore the artificially introduced limit and do 50mph (farmer Jones permitting of course).
Faster speeds equals louder noise, it is highly likely that your speedy road is running through a village? Hence why the 30mph zone was put up to give the locals a chance to cross the road without being killed and to get some sleep at night.
Most rural accidents don’t happen on the daily commute, so its no relevance whether you happened to see one or not.
Your posting is particular arrogant. You are basically saying you should be allowed to race around all the time at any speed and blame the people that actually have the misfortune of the road they live on becoming a GPS race track for getting in your way.
What you are really asking for is a relief road but this country doesn’t seem to have built any roads for decades and allowed minor roads to carry full A road traffic loads. You’ll notice how new build estates don’t take the traffic straight through the middle of them but are set off from the main road, it’s a shame that courtesy isn’t extended.
What do you expect?
Quote: Is there nobody supplying location aware devices that isn't screwing us over?!!!
Satellites are expensive, GIS is doubly so.
So the user either has to pay or be subjected to web 2.0 treatment. As paying has become rather unpopular the second is the default.
Calm down, dear. Take the other pill.
If you know there is a likelyhood of being held up for a wee while then that's 'normal' traffic.
You make it sound like this stretch of road is ten miles long but it's nost likely a couple of hundred yards.
"blame the people that actually have the misfortune of the road they live on"
So they just accidentally decided to buy a house there? What?
If I buy a house that is built next to a motorway - I have decided to move there - and any noise/pollution problems are my own to deal with. It's exactly the same for people who decide to live in the countryside. You take the rough with the smooth.
Of course - the average person who can afford to live in the countryside also tends to have more connections/etc to arrange speed limits etc.
Lies, dammed lies and sped traps.
On Wednesday, Europe's biggest satnav device maker apologized, saying it sold the data believing it would improve traffic safety and reduce bottlenecks in extracting more money from motorists, The Associated Press reported.
“We never foresaw this kind of use when we received the very big check for selling the data and many of our clients are not happy about it,” Chief Executive Harold Goddijn wrote...
The practice of changing speed limits is vital to catch out motorists who obey speed limits, I have seen this happen on the M1 motorway just outside Dublin Airport. The corporation/county council changed (reduced) the speed limit on a portion of the brand new 3 lane motorway, and the weekend they changed the speed limit is the only time I have seen a mobile speed trap on ths portion on the brand new 3 lane motorway.
I have also seen some of the new (privately owned of course, why have a system that can generate revenue for the state when it can be divert into the hands of a private company) mobile speed trap vans on a portion of road between the the town where I live and a neighboring town 4 miles away. Is the van parked on any of the dangerous parts of the road, no, its parked on the only good stretch of road i.e. the only flat straight part of the road with a good surface.
Its been obvious to everyone for years that speed traps are more about gathering revenue than road safety, to add insult to injury the authorities continue to lie about the reason why we have peed traps. I wonder what else they are lieing about.
Faster speed doesn't mean huge differences in noise. Tractors are noisy at any speed, as are busses etc.
30mph isn't there to give anyone a quiet night's sleep. As you're talking rural roads, there's very little traffic anyway as a rule. The limit came about because someone generically looked at the type of road it was and said "Oh, they should all be (x) limit.". Or maybe even looked at it on a map and said "Oh, it should be (x) I think.". There's a lot more talk, but not much difference in scientific approach between those quotes and the reality.
I've no idea where you get the idea the original poster wants to zip around at any speed.. They seem (and statistics bear it out) that most people drive sensibly at a speed the road is safe at. This would be the reason that the law surrounding speeding has the 'grey area' where you get the speed classes seriously expanded upwards. Because it's not wildly unsafe, you just can't upset the "Anti-Speed lobby", because it'll be all over the press, and you'll have a PR nightmare. The racetracks are usually in inner city places on estates (statistically speaking).
100% behind you about the relief roads though.
@AC 08:43 GMT
"it is highly likely that your speedy road is running through a village"
No its not!!!!!! Read the fucking post. Footpath on one side, fields on the other, so its may be a road on the outskirts of a village, also just because a road has a footpaths doesn't mean it is running through a built up area.
"Most rural accidents don’t happen on the daily commute"
Facts and reference please, otherwise your post is of no relevance to anyone
If you place cameras where people have accidents then those are the places where the speed limit is too high, surely. How will cameras in places where the speed limit is too high make money?
It's the places where there are no accidents that you need the speed cameras. Wide streatches of road with good visibility and very few junctions and a low speed limit. You would think the police and road planners could work together to create such opportunities. How about 40mph speed limits on motorways?
@ Anton Ivanov
AFAIK Tom Tom service is paid via yearly subscriptions. This is just another example of corporate greed. Whether this data is used for good or bad should be discussed separately. But if you pay for a service, you'll probably resent having your data mined and sold to third parties.
benn there done that
My post was giving an example of an artificially low speed limit. I certainly did not say people should be allowed to drive round at whatever speed they like.
A road that is big, wide (wide enough for 3 lanes as I originally mentioned), and a 60mph zone for decades that suddenly becomes a 40/30 zone. Not to mention that in that time cars have gained ABS and better tyres, so are actually *less* likely to have an accident.
It is *not* through a village, it is between two villages, approx 2 miles long. It does have a few buildings on one side, which are all set back from the road by quite some distance, most of them light industrial. On the other side are fields. That is it!
I live round the corner, so any serious accidents would be in my local rag, and believe me, there was certainly no problem with this road as a 60mph zone.
Oh, and BTW, this road isn't a minor road carrying A road traffic, is *IS* an A road!
Now go take you own arrogance somewhere else, and at least have the balls to not hide behind A/C.
Well Said Field Marshall Von NoisyFart
Fully agree with you.
I am also mystified as to the reducing speed limits, and also the reducing quality of the roads. Why the fuck do we pay bloody road tax and fuel duty ?
Back to the article, I'm furious that the data that has been gathered has been sold on. But it was only a matter of time. Remember the road pricing row a few years back in the UK ? That would have done the same. This however is less direct, and the sell out is a disgrace.
The moral of the story is don't let the bastards gather precise GPS data on you. It will be used against you. Anonymised to device ID ? And when you do get pulled over, and your device ID becomes known ? Just great - we'd like to nick you for the last 40 traffic offences .....
All of us beware. Big brother really *IS* watching you, and you'd better keep this in mind ! Beats real police work don't it ?
one way to avoid this...
Use a map ;) served everyone well in the 80's :)
STOP SPYING ON USERS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! HOW CLEAR MUST THE MESSAGE BE????
Now that THAT is said, whats next from Tomtom? Altering your route to take you into a waiting cop trap?
Spying companies vs moronic (ab)users
"Now that THAT is said, whats next from Tomtom? Altering your route to take you into a waiting cop trap?"
A waiting cop trap? Is this where they trick you into driving above the perfectly well-known legal maximum speed limit, just so that they can catch you and give you an unfair fine? I see nothing wrong with police on the roads - since I drive safely and legally, I have nothing to worry about. Quite the opposite, in fact: they're taking all the dangeous and speeding morons off the roads, leaving it safer and calmer for me. I applaud the police. Speed cameras aren't a "trick" or a "trap". Surely, if you're driving legally, you have no reason to worry about them? Idiot.
Sorry but you're talking crap.
Speed does not kill. It's inapropriate speed that kills.
If the police put the speed cameras where they can reduce accidents then there's no problem. But the police (in Britain at least) have also decided to put them where they can be used for tax collection.
Sorry, but he's talking sense. Yes reducing accidents may be a nobler aim, but the police are there to catch criminals. If you break the speed limit then you are a criminal.
Yes the speed limit is a fairly arbitrary value, but it's not an injust law (or morally suspect) so you have to stick to it. If you don't like it, campaign against it. If you break the law, live with the consequences.
If it's a choice between giving fines to people who break the law and upping the tax in any other way, I know which I'd opt for.
@Jason and Tom
Please try to understand the difference between "Breaking the speed limit" and "Using inappropriate speed for the conditions".
Which of these is more dangerous: Doing 45mph on a clear, empty, straight stretch of road with a 40 limit on a bright sunny day or doing 70mph on an unlit dual carriageway on a rainy, windy night? Which one is legal and which is illegal?
Which one is likely to have an accident happen on it?
Which one is likely to have a speed camera on it?
It's a particularly poor argument, which is why the speed limit isn't the only consideration - the Police can nick you for speeding, but they can also nick you for dangerous driving etc even if you are under the speed limit.
It's also an argument that undermines a lot of others here re: speed limits being a tax. What you're advocating there is speed limits that can and do change at arbitrary times of the day (i.e. when the conditions change). Do you think that more or less people would get FPNs for speeding as a result? :)
Speed limits are there for one simple reason - motorists are expected (and required by law) to take responsibility for driving safely. To give motorists a rough guide speed restrictions are implemented. It helps improve road safety because you don't get driver A thinking "well, it's lovely and sunny, the roads are dry, I've got ABS, I'll do 110mph" whilst driver B a few miles up ahead thinks "well, it's a bit bright - I'm struggling to see for the sun at times, my brakes are legal, but they aren't ABS, and I'm not really familiar with the road, I'll do 50mph".
Driver A comes up behind driver B at a net speed of 60mph, only sees him late due to corners etc and inadvertantly puts him off the road.
If you lower driver A to 60mph (national speed limit in the UK on single lane) you reduce the net speed of A to 20mph, giving him plenty of time to realise there's a slower moving car in front.
Nobody is saying that if you drive at 75mph on a 70mph road you will immediately die/kill somebody. A limit has been set that is considered reasonable in most (although not all) situations. It's *your* responsibility as a motorist to drive safely within that limit. If you want to ignore it you are free to do so. There are of course consequences. As an adult you should accept that and act accordingly. Having it both ways is for the kids.
Yes, I know the Police can nick you for Dangerous Driving, hence my example pointing out that whilst doing 70mph on a rainy, windy, unlit dual carriageway etc might be legal in terms of the speed limit, but could definitely be classed as "inappropriate speed for the conditions" viz:
* * * * *
What is 'Dangerous driving'?
A person drives dangerously when:
* the way they drive falls far below the minimum acceptable standard expected of a competent and careful driver; and
* it would be obvious to a competent and careful driver that driving in that way would be dangerous.
* * * * *
But that doesn't mean that pointing out the difference between "breaking the speed limit" and "using inappropriate speed for the conditions" is a poor argument.
"What you're advocating there is speed limits that can and do change at arbitrary times of the day (i.e. when the conditions change). "
You mean like the "Active Traffic Management" that happens on the M25 and other motorways where speed limits can and do change at arbitrary times of the day (i.e. when the conditions change)!
"It's *your* responsibility as a motorist to drive safely within that limit. If you want to ignore it you are free to do so. There are of course consequences. As an adult you should accept that and act accordingly. Having it both ways is for the kids."
As an adult and, more relevantly, as a member of the IAM, I am well aware of my responsibilities on the road and the requirement to use the road safely and one of the simplest ways to fail an IAM test is to act in a way that causes another road user to have to change their driving or riding plan.
However blithely (or blindly) sticking to limits whilst ignoring other factors is not the mark of an Advanced Road User either. If you're in a 60 limit, following a car doing 52mph and you want to make progress by passing them, you pick a clear piece of road and complete your overtake in a safe and timely manner, but whilst you're doing this you do *not* want to be looking down at your speedo to ensure you don't go over the limit since you're a) not watching the road ahead and b) if you stick to the limit that will increase the "danger time" you're spending in the opposite lane meaning you're increasing the risk of encountering an on-coming vehicle.
Therefore, to effect a safe and timely overtake, you may have to "break the law" by exceeding the speed limit, but you do that in the knowledge that you have done so in a way that will not cause a hazard to another road user.
Spot on Graham
Speed cameras take no account of driving style and conditions. They are are purely
if speed>limit then driver.fine(£60)
At least with a speed trap there is a real policeman about, so someone driving like an idiot (tail gating), but below the limit, might actually get caught, but usually it is a speed camera and not a real person able to use judgement. The yellow automatic boxes are far more cost effective.
I'd be quite in favour of magic boxes which could tackle inconsiderate/incompetent drivers who tail gate, never indicate or leave their rear fog lights turned on for a month after a slight mist (preventing anyone behind from seeing their brake lights coming on).
And before anyone says this is sour grapes, I haven't been caught speeding in 20 years, and I don't hold a grudge that long!
Our data or theirs?
Is it our data or theirs? All these companies not happy to 'just' sell us an item - they want to make extra by selling our personal data to other people - possibly to use against us! Anyone else had enough of this?
Google and Facepalm have been doing it for years - and idiots still use them 'cos they're 'free'. Luckily people are starting to realise that it is their personal information that is the product being sold in these relationships.
Motorist's worst enemy
"On the other hand, on the way home a spokesman for motorists stated that TomtTom had sold this information to the number one enemy of motorists. I find that also a little suspect. Whilst part of the police's job is simply collecting the 'speed tax' they do also serve a useful role in reducing road deaths which makes them far from the motorists worst enemy."
Not here they don't. They set up speed traps here at the bottom of hills if possible, and in areas with artificially low speed limits (we have 25MPH roads that would be 45MPH in any other town -- no driveways, no intersecting streets, no pedestrians trying to cross the road.) Not areas where speeding actually is dangerous (areas with lots of driveways, intersections, pedestrian traffic, school zones, etc.). They do nothing about people who drive excessively slow, obstructing traffic. They do nothing about people who "left lane pace" (sit in the left lane and pace whoever is in the right lane, no matter how slow, eliminating use of the left lane as a passing lane). They do nothing about people who drift in and out of their lane (even when there are cars next to them), being a danger to everyone else on the road. They do nothing about people who don't pay attention and cut people off (both by improper lane changes, and by doing a right turn on red in front moving traffic, then not bothering to accelerate to match it's speed.) And for that matter they don't do anything about red light runners (not the ones that go through on a "stale yellow", I don't care about that, but the ones that keep going AFTER the light is red). In other words, they do not do anything to improve traffic safety, and truly are the motorist's worst enemy.
What he meant to say was:
Instead of saying:
"....[TomTom] sold the data believing it would improve traffic safety and reduce bottlenecks,"
They meant to say:
"....[TomTom] sold the data believing it would improve our bottom line and increase executive bonuses,"
The article isn't clear, but surely they sold just just anonymised traffic data and not identifying information. I don't see a problem with that.
@ Anonymous data?
I assume you never park your car at your home then?
...it may be tenuous, but I've had to pay for the TomTom, supply the electricity to run the TomTom, subscribe to and pay for the traffic update service. It seems that by gathering and selling my personal data (anonymised or not) they are freeloading thieves who are availing themselves of MY processing power and MY electricity without MY permission to make THEMSELVES rich!
that anonymous data...
happens to terminate at your house.
Amonymised or not
The problem is how they 'may' have anonymised the data. If they have streamed all the data per user and 'redacted' your name/serial number/whatever then you can still be identified by the journeys you take. There will be a limit to the number of people going to/from your house every day. It is only if they have stripped off the ident AND the precise start and end timings plus mixed the tracks in some random fashion that it becomes unfeasible to try to isolate individuals.
Worryingly that can be either a very simple process (give it to a techie who uses the kit and has something to hide) or so complex that it doesn't happen (given to a bean-counter who lives with his mum with a 3.7 minutes walk to the office).
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