back to article TomTom sorry for giving customer driving data to cops

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 …

COMMENTS

This topic is closed for new posts.
  1. Wallyb132
    FAIL

    Why?

    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,

    1. OziWan
      Thumb Down

      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.

    2. Graham Marsden
      Flame

      Re: Why?

      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.

    3. Dagg
      Big Brother

      It is used to report errors

      This data is used to report miss matches between the TomTom maps and the physical road.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    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.

    1. Charles Manning
      Thumb Up

      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!

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Troll

        wrong

        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.

  3. OziWan

    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.

    1. Yag
      Joke

      "a given speed limit is incorrect"

      No.

      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.

    2. Is it me?

      But...

      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.

      1. kwikbreaks

        errr...

        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.

  4. mafoo
    Joke

    hahaha

    "Take that Apple, we h4ve t3h skillz"

  5. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

    @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.

    1. Anton Ivanov

      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).

      1. Marvin the Martian
        WTF?

        GSM data??

        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.

  6. Asgard
    Big Brother

    @”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. :(

  7. a53

    Still waiting.

    Haven't received my apology yet!

  8. John F***ing Stepp

    This is one of the reasons why I still have a -stupid- phone.

    A lot of my other devices give homage to Ned Ludd.

    1. Elmer Phud

      Luddish behaviour

      My 'route advisor' is usually a post-it on the dashboard.

  9. Steve Evans

    Good grief!

    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).

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      geez

      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.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        @AC

        "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.

      2. Juillen 1

        @ac

        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.

      3. Field Marshal Von Krakenfart
        FAIL

        @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

        1. Homard
          Grenade

          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 ?

      4. Steve Evans

        @A/C 08:43

        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.

    2. Anton Ivanov

      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.

      1. Mephistro Silver badge

        @ 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.

    3. Elmer Phud

      D.C.

      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.

    4. Field Marshal Von Krakenfart
      Big Brother

      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.

    5. Wayland Sothcott 1 Bronze badge

      Accident Cameras

      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?

      1. Lionel Baden
        Grenade

        benn there done that

        M1

  10. Jay 12

    one way to avoid this...

    Use a map ;) served everyone well in the 80's :)

  11. Head
    Thumb Down

    Hmmm

    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?

    1. Jason Togneri
      Flame

      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.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        @Jason

        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.

        1. Tom Sparrow

          @AC

          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.

          1. Graham Marsden
            Boffin

            @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?

            1. Ross 7

              @Graham Marsden

              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.

              1. Graham Marsden

                @Ross 7

                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.

                http://www.cps.gov.uk/news/fact_sheets/dangerous_driving/

                * * * * *

                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.

                1. Steve Evans

                  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!

  12. Anonymous Coward
    FAIL

    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?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      what's new

      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.

  13. Henry Wertz 1 Gold badge
    Thumb Down

    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.

  14. Winkypop Silver badge
    Stop

    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,"

  15. Jarrad

    Anonymous data?

    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.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      FAIL

      that anonymous data...

      happens to terminate at your house.

    2. justin_C
      Grenade

      It's stealing

      ...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!

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      @ Anonymous data?

      I assume you never park your car at your home then?

    4. Kevin Johnston

      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).

    5. G Wilson

      "Anonymous"

      That's because you're assuming that "anonymous" in corporate excuse-making language actually means what you think of as "anonymous". But the range of what consists of identifying information is wider than names and reg numbers. If data shows my car parking in my drive and repeatedly driving to my office, that's not anonymous. It's surveillance.

      There is no reason at all to store this kind of data, let alone pass it on. Boycott Tomtom, IMO.

    6. Wayland Sothcott 1 Bronze badge

      Jarrad you don't get it

      The point is that TomTom are supposed to assist the motorist. That's why the motorists pay for the service. So behind their backs TomTom assists the police in setting up speed traps, which are the sorts of hazards that motorists try to avoid.

      It's not the use of location data which helps motorists that's the problem. When the data was used for planning better roads or avoiding traffic jams then the motorists are pleased.

      There maybe some motorists who believe that speed traps are there to help them, but on the whole motorists are against them.

  16. Stephen 1
    Alert

    Garmin

    Very bad behaviour TomTom. However in their defence, I've been reliably informed that Garmin devices store historical route data on the device itself like the iPhone but that TomTom don't.

    1. SirTainleyBarking
      Black Helicopters

      Create a new account here

      Yes my Garmin does hold average and peak speed data, along with route data.

      And I can delete it at any time by going into the menu screen and hitting the correct icon on the screen.

      And as I don't have any GSM / GPRS / 3G connection between it and Garmin's office, the only way to get that info off is to physically obtain the device before I hit delete.

      Nice little device

  17. Snark

    Where TomTom get's its data from...

    From their website "Only TomTom takes existing traffic information and enhances it using anonymous data from 80 million mobile phone users on the road and 1.6 million connected TomTom devices. This makes TomTom’s HD Traffic revolutionary - able to deliver the world’s most accurate traffic information."

    It's pretty smart really and useful on my TomTom. In the UK I think most of their data actually comes anonymously from Vodafone passing on details from their phones... Wonder if people knew their phones were doing that :). TomTom I think was just then reselling it on.

    The government sell on of data was supposed to help traffic information centres update their information displays and deal with incidents, plan traffic changes, etc, but I bet some bright spark thought they'd won the lottery when they realised they could work out where to put speed traps!

  18. demat
    Big Brother

    TomTom is evil.

    If I know TomTom maps, the cameras will end up facing the wrong way down one-way streets.

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Big Brother

    Funny

    LOL at the drivers (I'm sorry, "motorists" gives a respectable Daily Wail-esque veneer to 90% of the working population who can't handle a car to save their sorry behinds) who bought these to facilitate speeding, with all the camera locations pre-programmed - and then it gets used against them.

  20. Billa Bong
    Stop

    If you weren't speeding, you wouldn't care

    I *don't* care about people collecting data about me; I *do* care about the use to which it's put; but what annoys me more is when people blame a company like tomtom for something which is not really their problem (especially since they acted with better intentions than the data buyers). The problem you guys are (mostly) complaining about is unnecessary low speed limits and police using the data to collect speed tax.

    Sort it out with the proper authorities by requesting a revision of the speed limit, or don't speed, but don't seek to blame tomtom: Traps are set up in known speeding hot spots - if the police can't obtain the data through tomtom or another gps based tracker (there are many) then they'll just continue to use public informants and complaints to set them up - speeders will not be any safer from the law - accept it and act responsibly, but stop bitchin' about it.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      RE: If you weren't speeding, you wouldn't care

      I care since I have to PAY for this service! Either TomTom let the police pay for the service (which is tax-payers money and thus MY money too) OR me directly.

  21. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    And in the UK?

    Are they playing the same game here? Mind you, they're probably obliged to hand it over under our liberal laws (ie authorities should have free access to anything they want).

    1. Code Monkey
      Headmaster

      I agree, but

      "authorities should have free access to anything they want" is indeed the regime we now live under but these are anything but I'd not describe it as "liberal".

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        I meant ...

        ... "liberal" in the sense of "free of constraint", and (I thought) indicated that these freedoms only seem to apply to the authorities, rather than us serfs. So I think we agree. We sure aren't getting any more free.

  22. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Probably mostly naivette on the part of tom tom, actually.

    As far as I can gather, tom tom asked people to agree to send location data to tom tom when "syncing at the pc", for analysis purposes. I'm willing to accept that they believe they did their best to anonymise the data. Also, it's probably not suitable evidence against any one individual. Failure to anonymise is certainly a valid concern, but not the most important point to be highlighted here.

    So tom tom sold that data on to governments, and didn't stop and think that in the Netherlands that now-a-days _always_ _also_ means police & co. will take a look and see if they can't squeeze a bit extra out of the populace. Like here, figuring out where speed traps will be most profitable. Instead of changing the speed limits, as that'd _cost_ monies, and there's still this spending gap to stuff any way they can.

    Part of the outrage ought to be that most people should now be figuring this one out, too. It's not like it hasn't been all over the papers for months that now-a-days many a checkpoint includes customs & revenue squeeze specialists (and do note that's two separate services in .nl) and whoever else they can dig up to give not just your car and associated papers, but your entire legal identity the thorough once-over. Tax arrears, unpaid fines, and so on, become immediately payable on such road blocks. There is this clear pattern emerging that the Dutch should not neglect to question. Because if nobody tells the plod to stop they'll go right on "innovating" in this "profitable" field.

  23. Pavlov's obedient mutt
    Thumb Up

    apology and a free speed cam sub

    So I got an email from TomTom last night (I live in the Netherlands) explaining their disgust and offering me a free sub to their speed camera add on

    now all I need is a car again.

    ;)

    Personally, I like their response. It was quick and - for me, and probably all us Dutchies - effective

    1. Manu T

      RE: apology and a free speed cam sub

      Good for you. I demanded to be removed from ALL of their services, dumbed my TOmTOm and started using the ancient CD-based nav again from my car. Fuck THEM!

      Next 170 euro spend will be newer CD's for it instead of an spyware ridden navigation device.

  24. bitmap animal

    Depends how they prcessed the data for sale

    If they sold the raw route log then that is not good at all for the privacy of the motorist.

    If they processed it for example to say that at [X,Y] location between 12:00 and 12:59 5 vehicles did 0-29mph, 7 did 30-39mph and 3 did 40mph or over then that does not easily allow any individual journey to be extracted and gives a good representation of the traffic speeds at any given point and time.

  25. Enjoying life
    Thumb Down

    Improving a revenues

    So in the latest iPhone update you now subscribe (pay extra) to subscribe to "Tom Tom Speed Cameras! This service keeps your fixed cameras fresh and even informs you about mobile cameras in real time". Which seems like a must have if they are also selling information to the police that is used to determine where new speed cameras should be put. Ethichally questionable at best but I suppose Tom Tom would regard it as smart business. "We know you need our update service because its our information to the police that ensures you do.

  26. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Oh Oh Oh!! Look - information has value

    That astounded me almost as much as when I discovered that the Pope is Catholic and bears shit in woods.

    Or like when I discovered that absolutely everyone - from your local council to your supermarket to your telephone company to the nice charities you donate to - will sell your data on to whoever wants to pay for it, and has done so since about the time language was invented.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Ah, you misunderstand, my friend

      The filth should only be siting speed cameras at dangerous locations. TomTom (etc.) are therefore using the location of speed cameras as an indication of particularly dangerous stretches of road.

      The warning is purely related to your safety and nothing to do with avoiding getting fined for speeding No sir! not at all.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      [Re:] Oh Oh Oh!! Look - information has value

      Or like when I discovered that absolutely everyone - from your local council to your supermarket to your telephone company to the nice charities you donate to - will sell your data on to whoever wants to pay for it, and has done so since about the time language was invented.

      Apples and Oranges

      Your not a target for physical harm, legal problems, or assassination with the old school.

      ma bell is a cheap mother****** is not the same as Name) summoned to appear on date, rolled up into a secure facility, or buried in a hole.

      What goes around comes around, 2011 was the beginning of a horrific future of lawlessness.

  27. Jim 59

    Live data

    Tracking the user is only possible with "live" traffic services, ie. where your satnav communicates back to Tom Tom. The GPS infrastructure itself does not know your position, only your satnav knows that. Higher end satnavs and smartphones some with "live" services. Lower end satnavs don't and can't be tracked. Some satnavs (eg Navigon) use FM radio for traffic warnings ("TMC"), which again cannot be tracked.

    So for stealth mode, avoid "live data" satnavs. And keep your mobile phone switched off.

  28. Lamont Cranston
    Jobs Horns

    Just don't drive too fast.

    Not that big of a deal.

    -Sent from my TomTom, via my iPhone.

  29. Paul Stimpson

    The TomTom "Live" experience

    TomTom collect anonymous data about the speed of users of their "Live" online navigation products. IIRC I was asked by the device for consent for this the first time I used it. Older devices will do this through a Bluetooth tether to the user's phone and the new, higher-end devices have a mobile data module and SIM card inside and don't need a phone.

    If you have one of the "Live" devices, the data collected from other users provides you with a number of benefits:

    1) "IQ Routes" (what happened in the past). Route planning is done using historical data of drivers' speeds on these roads at this time of day rather than the posted speed limit. This means my TomTom knows, for example, that using Hanger Lane to get to Park Royal is a good idea at 1900 on Saturday but a really dumb idea at 0800 on Monday.

    2) "HD Traffic" (what is happening now). If a user is travelling at significantly less than the speed limit on a stretch of road that stretch is automatically added to the traffic information as a delay and propagated to other users so their units can replan round the hold up. If I drive through an area with a hold up marked and I make good time, that delay is automatically deleted from the traffic information. This information also serves to provide more accurate arrival time estimates ("There's nothing we want to call a traffic jam but your journey is going to take 4 minutes longer than it would on clear roads.)

    Overall I believe these are positive things for me.

    The allegation here I believe is that TomTom sold the HD Traffic data to a party involved in law enforcement who used it to work out where people tend to do more than the speed limit so they could put speed traps there, not to point the finger at individual users. This still makes me think badly of TomTom and I hope they won't repeat this behaviour or will modify the data so any readings above the speed limit will report at the speed limit (so if someone does 80 on the motorway the speed will be reported as 70)

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      re. The TomTom "Live" experience

      TomTom have taken out full page ads in the Dutch press today apologising for this unforeseen use (by the police) of the anonymised traffic data. They go on to say that they will change the licencing terms for the data they provide to third parties to forbid this kind of use. By way of an apology they have also included a link that allows TomTom users to get a free update of the latest speed camera locations in the Netherlands for devices that support that.

  30. Humu
    Alert

    Speed more than 13.2 km/s

    I've seen some data collected by the navigators, and then turned to experts do some analysis on it. It was extremely hilarious to find out, how some cars first crawl very slowly, and then they speed up something like 13.2 km/s (speed to reach the orbit)!. If the cops are REALLY using the TomTom data to catch speeders, they'll need to have something like US Space Shutlle.

  31. NoneSuch
    Big Brother

    Why did TomTom do it?

    Because there is money to be made.

    It is the same Reason M$, Apple and Google are doing it on their phones. If someone is willing to pay $$$ for data, then that data will be collected and saved.

  32. Anonymous Coward
    FAIL

    Typed with a bag over my head

    Where people live or work --- how can that be called "sensitive?"

    Come on: ban phone directories!

    (woops, I guess I'm not posting as AC anyway, so I might as well take the bag off now)

  33. Anonymous Coward
    WTF?

    "but it's not an injust law (or morally suspect) "

    This is a joke right? If speed limits were set sensibly then it would be a just law, but they are not, so it isn't. It is well known that speed limits are subject to all kind of irrational PC considerations and where not are based on vehicles and roads of the 1960s.

    I can drive at speed appropriate for the conditions without having a number to tell me it. If a low speed limit is set because of a known hazard, the appropriate hazard sign should be used along with the low speed limit. Sometimes the authorities get this right. Sometimes, they don't.

    Moreover, many speed limits off the motorway are set by council jobsworths with no traffic planning qualifications or experience.

    Sure I obey them 'cos I don't want a ticket/points/fine. But I don't have to agree with them.

    1. Kevin Johnston

      Town Planners

      Did you know that if they go for the degree they get a Bachelor of Arts degree rather than Science? Says it all really, let's make the road curve around here and then go back on itself here 'cos that'll look really cool from a helicopter.

  34. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    An apology

    An apology normally comes with restitution and making things right.

    This is propaganda, not an apology. It's hunting for victims using establishment color of law. Bottom line, quit using GPS, can't anyone read a paper map anymore? You look up the street in the index, and take the Letter and Number and plot it with two straight sticks. Try tracking a thomas guide bitchez. That's right fascism killer, and don't forget to use cash maybe they might track your purchase of the guide.

    Out these scum in all parties, or next they'll track you for not buying a gps!

  35. merry-v

    Never ceases

    It never ceases to amaze me that people think driving slowly is necessarily safe, and driving above the limit is necessarily dangerous. The police rarely prosecute anyone for driving up to 85 on the motorway - maybe it's not causing any accidents, in itself?

    And why do people think that people who speed are necessarily speeding always, any time and anywhere? Most drivers choose carefully when to speed and by how much, because apart from anyone else,they don't have a death wish.

    the last stats I saw from the UK government stated that 2% of accidents were caused by speeding in the over 25 years of age category, and 8% in the under 25 category.

    Maybe we should focus on the other 92%+ non-speed related incidents?

    FWIW - some speed cameras do prevent accidents and should be maintained. And there is such a thing as "too fast", but let's not be idiots about it by taking a black and white position that the posted speed limit is the sensible limit. That's bull****.

  36. psyq
    Happy

    The funniest part...

    Is that TomTom sells "Speed Cameras" service to the users, helping them to avoid speed traps...

    Then, they sell the data to cops, so they can maximize the revenue.

    Looks like the dream business model :-)

  37. Anonymous Coward
    Black Helicopters

    I'm afraid I'll get a speeding ticket

    ...by running at about 300 kph, also without having any driving license.

    I'd better stop riding the TGV for now.

  38. Clive Galway
    FAIL

    Another nail in the coffin for TomTom

    Funny that they should get in trouble for selling the data they use to populate the "IQ Routes" service (Real time traffic data from phone info) which IIRC is also largely scraped from cell mast usage info sold to it by ?Vodafone?.

    The amusing thing is that winmo, despite being the first phone OS to get a TomTom app, has NEVER gotten access to this data, as TomTom never released a version with IQ Routes for that platform. Annoyingly, they then released an iPhone version with IQRoutes but still left their existing winmo customers out in the cold. After 3+ years of waiting, I finally gave up and moved to Android, but TomTom have announced no version for that either, so I now use CoPilot.

    It's your own stupid fault - if you released an IQRoutes version for WinMo and/or Android, you would have a revenue stream from that (IQRoutes is a monthly subscription) and wouldn't have to sell the data to the cops to generate the much needed revenue.

    Goodbye TomTom, don't let the door hit you in the arse on the way out.

  39. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    Tomtom, You're a bunch of hypocrite thieves!!! A SORRY is NOT enough. I want a FULL REFUND!

    What many posters seem to forget is that this is already a PAID FOR service! Additional TomTom SELLS that same data again. This is double profit! Either TomTom refund it's customers and make this a police paid service (since they seem to be most interested in this) or DON'T sell to anyone and make this a paid for service (as it's intention used to be). It's one or the other but not both!!

    Not to mention that the police abuse this data to collect additional fines (instead of redirecting this too the public services to actually improve the infrastructure). This means the customer pays 3 times!

    1) Tax-payers with TomTom's pay for the service (directly to TomTom)

    2) the police buys this data (with tax-payers money of course)

    3) the police abuse this data to retrieve MORE tax-payers money.

    This has to stop. All these corporations filling their pockets, decreasing our freedom and privacy and to make matters worse collaborating with corrupt governmental organizations.

    In Holland traffic fines are ridiculously high. You pay 150 euro if you ride to close to the car in front or forget to wear a seatbelt. If you're speeding you get your speeding ticket from an attorney (which means an astronomical high fine). This is ludicrous.

  40. Anonymous Coward
    Grenade

    Speeding

    So if I lend my m/c to friend who knows? Speeding, well for starters the 30mph/50kmph are horse related, not so many these days, new limits of 20Mph or 30KLMPH are really stupid as they have been brought down to compensate for reduced vehicle noise, top speed of say 70/110 are just as stupid because you get bumper to bumper driving and lane blocks. Having 50 or 40 for commercials and 60 for smaller vehicles means that you cannot safely pass a lorry unless you have 2klm or a mile of clear road. Frankly the IOM have it right, no limit but you really get clobbered if you have a bang or seen going stupidly by the bill.

    Here in a certain EU country the cars bunch so that the cameras cannot see the licence plates. The distance used is "merde", nothing like the UK "dont be a fool use the 2 second rule".

    I did enjoy blatting around an M25 average 50 limit at 75. It was perfectly safe, no other vehicles, my bike did not exceed a 35 degree angle, luverly. So why the average 50 limit please uncle bill? We did a test on cameras as well, about 80% do not work correctly, or at all. EG A505 90+ no flash from most.

    Oh yes forgot to say, had UK plates and bike was actually awaiting overseas reg.

    Now that new tyre laws have come in the speed limits will have to come down again as you cannot hear the electric cars coming. Expect to see 10MPH a speed most bikes cannot safely do eventually ending with a M/C ban on those streets due to inherent safety problems.

    Me I just add 10 to every speed limit, you KNOW that the people that work them out have no idea of vehicular safety, added to which your speedo is out reading high by 10% and cameras have to have at least a 5% margin.

  41. sieler

    No one *forced* TomTom to do this.

    Re:

    "As more smartphones offer GPS navigation service, TomTom has been forced to compensate"

    Shame on the author ... no one *forced* TomTom to do anything. They chose to do it ... if that word was in a TomTom press release, that doesn't mean you have to blindly follow it. Choosing the words to use is an incredibly important power: don't abandon it or let other people do it for you.

This topic is closed for new posts.

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2019