back to article TomTom Oz to repeat Netherlands data sale

Hard on the heels of its apology for flogging customer data to police in The Netherlands, satnav maker Tom Tom is set for a repeat performance in Australia. TomTom attracted universal flack last week for admitting that local and regional governments in the Netherlands had used TomTom’s GPS data to help police set speed traps …


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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Come on - we know they will.

    It's getting a bit boring now - companies collecting data for one purpose, then selling it on for other purposes. Then the complaints, then the apologies, then the same again in maybe a different way. Might as well just assume it's going to happen and either roll over and take it or minimise what we give them. Or maybe just not buy the products?

  2. Andrew Moore Silver badge

    In other news...

    Harold and his missus Corrine did not make the Sunday Times Rich List this year- a major fall in grace considering that they were supposed billionaires 2 years ago.

  3. Magnethead

    Falling sales?

    I imagine the rise of smartphones and the free GPS that gives most users is hurting Tom Tom's bottom line.

    Gotta make their money somewhere.

  4. Steve Evans

    How about...

    ...They come clean and make the information available to motorists too, a nice overlay in open format so everyone can load it into their sat navs and be warned of roads where the speed limit is frequently broken and likely to have PC plod parked up on the side.

    BTW, if any PC plod is reading this, would you mind putting a few unmarked cars down the A12 between the A406 and A11. We all know everyone only slows down to 40 and 50 for the cameras on this dual carriageway (artificially low and varying limit), so a bit of speeding is perfectly normal for this road, but in the past few days I have seen so many cars using it as a three lane mobile chicane (and I mean travelling at speed 10-20mph faster than everyone else) I'm seriously thinking of setting up a dashboard cam and a youtube account!

    1. frank ly Silver badge

      In a perfect world.......

      I've always said that breaking the speed limit is fine, as long as everybody does it, does it sensibly and does it in the same way. The trouble is, that really can't happen.

      1. Steve Evans


        In this example everyone else was doing the normal, slow down gently for the cameras, then accelerate +10mph afterwards, all pretty normal on the A12, it's just a couple of morons, one in an Astra VXR (with a number plate to match) and another in a Golf GTI, who decided everyone was accelerating too gently and buried the loud pedal into the carpet straight after the cameras and then proceeded to use all three lanes as a slalom! The VXR almost did a pit manoeuvre on himself when he cut across in front of me he was so close.

        So it wasn't so much their speed which was worrying, it was their driving style and ability (both youngster who thought they were Lewis Hamilton I guess). If anyone else had been driving with the same lack of attention or consideration to others as these two clowns were and did something quite normal like changing lane without indicating, there would have been a huge pile up.

        Luckily as I'm also a motorcyclist, I have long known to treat all other road users as if they are complete idiots who are out to kill you, because 9 times out of 10, you'll be spot on!

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Good point

    Speed cameras supposedly sited on the most dangerous roads (speedwise), there must be a duty to inform any motorist in the area where those are.

    1. David Gosnell


      Yes, in the UK there are speed (sorry, safety) camera warning signs. These used to be legally required, but I believe this (along with the requirement for cameras to be high-vis) lapsed a couple of years back. However they are still widely used. Too widely in fact: the requirement basically was interpreted as an excuse to put a sign on any road "just in case", so it all becomes (intentionally, I suspect) meaningless.

  6. Anonymous Coward

    How about

    Drivers just obeying the law and not speeding?

    If the concept of a speed limit is too difficult for people to understand, they shouldn't be driving a motor vehicle.

    1. This post has been deleted by its author

    2. Liam Johnson

      An easy fix?

      A speed limit is not difficult to understand, it is just difficult for safe drivers to do. Your eyes should be on the road, looking out for little kids, footballs, the next junction, parked vehicles blocking your view, rain, oil etc etc etc.

      Undue fixation on the speed limit does not somehow make you a safer driver. Every time you look down at the tachometer, you are taking your eyes off the road. Beyond a certain point, it is no longer a benefit and becomes a detriment. Of course, speed is easy to measure, so it gets held it up as the gold standard of safe driving.

      You only have to go out on the roads to see that most people drive at or around the speed limit, yet because of some variability, occasionally get caught on "safety cameras". I very rarely see anybody driving stupidly fast. On the other hand, you see plenty of people talking on phones, screaming at kids in the back, turning to talk with passengers, checking out the mini-skirts, reading maps and generally not paying attention, yet as long as they stay below some nominal speed limit, they are strangely considered safe drivers. Sure there are laws against this behaviour, but they are impossible to measure automatically, so they take a second seat to speed in all the propaganda about safe driving.

      Your speed is only a secondary concern and if you don't understand this, then you shouldn't be driving a motor vehicle.

      1. Anonymous Coward

        "I very rarely see anybody driving stupidly fast."

        Where do you live, Antarctica?

        1. Liam Johnson

          @Where do you live, Antarctica

          No, I live in Germany.

          It of course depends on your definition of stupidly fast:- for me, it would be significantly faster than everyone else thinks is safe. Probably upwards of 20kmh faster, even more on a good road with a good view. I do not define it simply as anybody who overtakes me.

          Personally, I try and stay within the limit, but it is occasionally clear that the limits are set too low for the road. In such conditions, I do not consider "breaking the speed limit" to be stupid driving, it just "breaking the law", which are two separate issues. I don’t advocate breaking the law, but I can still differentiate between doing so safely and doing so dangerously.

          But please feel free to let me know where you live and your definition of “stupidly fast” so that we can come to some agreement on terminology.

          Something to consider in your definition.

          If you are driving at 40 along a stretch of road with a 40 limit and come up behind someone doing 35. Is it safer to overtake them at 40, or to overtake them at 45 and reduce the time you spend on the manoeuvre?

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Thumb Up

        Precisely put

        I cannot upvote this enough.

        On a racetrack, "speed differential" or "closing speed" is what is really dangerous. It is very hard to judge closing speeds accurately, and thus it is better if everyone is more or less travelling at the same speed. It doesn't usually matter what speed that is, as long as it is within the general performance parameters of the road,driver and weather. On a racetrack, the most dangerous exercise is overtaking slower cars, or worse, bunches of them. No different on a public road.

        Subsequently, on safe 6 lane motorways, people tend to "go with the flow" and cruise along safely at maybe 130km even though the limit is put ridiculously low at 90.

        I was once stopped in the USA (in the a.m.), on a wide 2 lane dual carriegway, apparently momentarily clocked at 95mph by the plod (I had put some distance between me and the surrounding traffic). I pulled over and the policeman inquired as to the absolute top speed of my car etc. and we bantered for a minute or two. He asked me if I could please keep it at 85mph, as the truckers had a tendency to change into the fast lane without correctly calculating closing speed (see above) causing cars to rear-end trucks. Sounded fine to me and we both went on our way. I didn't rear end a truck. It seems that the plod in that juridstiction have (or had) it figured and from my observation most people seemd to be in tune to the 85mph on that road. Speed limit 65mph.

        The danish general speed limit was raised to 130 on motorways some years ago, and one of the prime reasons was that (a) the roads were designed for 160 and (b) everyone drove at 130 anyway.

        Onward ...

        Safety cameras outside built up areas are not about safety, they are about revenue.

        The statistics used to claim they are for safety are largely bogus. I believe there was a Quadrant article some years ago (it may be online there or at the NRMA site) which reviewed the original source material for the governmental papers and found that there was an egregious (my word) case of misuse of data (that's lying for you and me). We were lied to by politicians and do gooders who respectively want your money and hate cars.

        that is all

  7. Stephen Gray

    Prevention is best

    I remember joking to a friend when he was considering one of the first gen sat-navs along the lines of "but they'll know where you've been!" I use a map and the Mark 1 Eyeball myself. As a petrol-head I dislike speed cameras on any road with a limit above 30 (MPH) however I do believe in accident prevention. I fear however that cams are routinely sited to generate revenue rather than as a deterrent to errant drivers. Put them all around accident black spots and schools not at the bottom of a hill where a 60 limit drops to 40.

  8. Velv Silver badge

    Use the evidence

    I was initially thinking "why shouldn't governments use the data to find out where people speed".

    But thinking about it more - the governements (and Police) already know where the danger spots are - that's where the accidents occur.

    If a section of road doesn't have an accident history, then sighting "safety" cameras based on average speed is purely to raise revenue. Speed is only ONE factor in accidents. The overall road layout and the volume of traffic are much larger factors.

    So - proposal. TomTom et al now have very accurate traffic flows, the sort of traffic flows that would allow the limit to be INCREASED on certain sections of road.

  9. Lee Dowling Silver badge


    The police cannot profit from this unless you're stupid enough to speed. If you speed and get caught - it's not like it's a huge shock that you weren't aware you were going faster than the legal limit (or, if you weren't aware, then you were driving without due care and attention). You can say "everyone speeds" or "it was only a little bit over" to your heart's content but if you have one or a million speed cameras (i.e. cameras only activated by someone breaking the law by a significant margin), it should make NO difference to you at all. Average speed cameras are more of a concern because they can be used to track your journeys but people aren't exactly crying out about that and they've been in place for years - no, they're crying that they can't do 50 in a 40-posted area. Aw, diddums.

    If you're braking for a speed camera, even because the guy-in-front was braking because he was going too fast, then you're driving too fast / too close / without paying attention. Similarly, if a policeman on the side of the road pointing things at you makes you slow down, you weren't aware of your speed or knew you were breaking the law.

    In this case, the data is anonymised and statistical, so most of the privacy worry is gone with that, and you're left with complaining that police are seeking data on where people speed the most. I hope they are. That's kinda their job. And TomTom are only backing down in order to look like the good guy among their customers. Nobody is making you pay fines that you haven't incurred yourself.

    I never understood the speed camera fuss - if an officer pulls you over with a radar gun, do you give him an earful? Usually not. But if a more accurate automated device sees you commit an offence, with indubitable photographic evidence that has to be human-verified, that's somehow "wrong"?

    Put me in charge for a year - you'll have an average speed camera system on every single junction and won't be able to speed down your own road. And cars without valid number plates would trigger priority alerts to all nearby police units and be crushed when captured (and a ban from driving would mean just that). Maybe when you can prove that, as a nation, we can keep to a limit, then it might be worth RAISING that limit to something which helps traffic flow better (and I'm undeniably advocating no-limit motorways in such circumstances providing they all have 4 lanes and the tarmac quality of the German Autobahn's - they are a pleasure to drive down, more because everyone gets out of your way and isn't slamming brakes on for no reason).

    Pillocks accelerating towards visible and signposted speed cameras are the bane of my driving life. More because I find myself shaking my head and trying to work out WHY they bother than anything else. And don't talk to me about 41mph drivers on a 40mph average section - WHY? You've pulled out and changed lanes twice in order to creep past me like a snail gaining an advantage I can regain in about 0.5 seconds once it goes back to the normal speed limit.

    1. Just Thinking

      Missing the point

      We all know that you risk a ticket if you speed, I don't think that is what people are complaining about. I would prefer that the police to enforce safe driving, with speed being a part of that. What this story shows is that police around the world are more interested is raising as much revenue with as little effort as possible, rather than tackling more difficult safety issues.

      If there are places where unusually high numbers of people speed but there are never any accidents, as others have said, the problem is probably that the limit is wrong. While the police are camped out there, it is the things they aren't doing instead which worry me.

      I tend to obey the speed limit, and how am I rewarded? Quite often by some a***hole tailgating me. Often it is a van or large 4x4, so I would come off worse in a collision. Where are the police? Busy collecting money on some perfectly safe section of dual carriageway which has been randomly given a 50mph limit.

    2. Liam Johnson

      Mostly completey wrong..

      >>it's not like it's a huge shock

      Really? Last time I was caught speeding was on those nice Autobahns you mentioned. From doing around 220kmh (not unusual), I came round a corner and into a 100kmh limit, the speed camera was about 200-300m after the speed limit. I was doing about 115km when the flash went off. Of course I could have braked a lot harder when I saw the sign but that would not have increased anyone’s safety.

      Just for the record, this was nearly 20 years ago; I don't make a habit of gather tickets.

      >>no, they're crying that they can't do 50 in a 40-posted area.

      Nope, never heard that one. Most people I know of get caught out for having a little bit of variability in their speed, not for racing like a nutter.

      >>I never understood the speed camera fuss

      Simplez, they don't catch (hardly) any dangerous drivers and don't make the roads safer, contrary to their stated purpose.

      >>you'll have an average speed camera system on every single junction

      Which will absolutely zero effect on the number of accidents.

      >>4 lanes and the tarmac quality of the German Autobahn's

      You have been to Germany?? Many of the Autobahnen are two lanes and they would rather put up a sign for "Spurrillen" (ruts) than actually fix the road.

      >> pulled out and changed lanes twice in order to creep past me

      Possibly because you have your eyes firmly glued to the speedo instead of watching where you are going??? It always amazes me, the number of people who think driving under the speed limit is a sufficient condition to make them safe drivers. I can of course only assume that this is why you are so fixated on this single issue and don't mention anything else at all.

  10. Sorry that handle is already taken. Silver badge

    I don't have a problem with this at all

    Three points:

    1) As long as the data's anonymous I don't see why anyone cares. If there's an opt out, even better.

    2) Using this data to aid road planning and policy is no different to contracting a traffic counting company to lay down some pneumatic tubes for a few weeks. There's also no way of opting out of that system at all, short of taking a different route.

    3) People who complain about speed cameras need to grow up and start taking responsibility for their own behaviour.

    1. ObSolutions, Inc


      The data is hardly anonymous. Given the TomTom data and knowing where you live and work, I'm pretty sure I could work out where you were on Tuesday afternoon.

      But as to your other points: Agreed.

      1. Sorry that handle is already taken. Silver badge


        I don't know what data TomTom are providing, but what data they possess and what data they provide aren't necessarily the same thing. I have assumed that they are providing point volumes and speeds.

        If they're providing end-to-end trip data, that's an altogether different thing. One I don't agree with.

  11. Alan Brown Silver badge

    speed limits are artificial

    There was a 20+ year study made on a section of road in the USA, where speed limirts were raised and lowered.

    What was found was that setting speed limits near the road's natural speed resulted in motorists obeying them. Setting them stupidly low OR high resulted in motorists ignoring them and driving at the road's natural speed.

    Similar research also showed the motorists are far more affected by perceived obstructions, etc and excessive laning actually resulted in people driving FASTER.

    If you really want to slow traffic down NOW, increase the perceived road hazards (extra parking helps a lot) and link a speed detector to a red light down the road. No camera needed. Everything else is revenue gathering.

    I'd like to see a renewed emphasis on driver ability - including heavy fines for holding traffic up, middle lane hogging and even more severe punishnments for tailgating (SUV and Mercedes owners are particularly bad for intimidating with their vehicle's size) - and _anyone_ trying to use "I have my kids in the car" as an excuse for bad driving needs to have their license stripped on the spot until they resit.

  12. Joe Harrison Silver badge


    Pointless trying to have logical arguments about speeding. People like and enjoy driving fast and in my experience are capable of unlimited justification for why the speed limit may safely be disregarded by advanced drivers (i.e. themselves.)

    What never fails to astound me however is how quickly the very same people can switch to telling you how "nutters come down our road far too fast don't they know our kids play out there?"

    1. DryBones

      Bless me....

      You think the speeds are always sensible and up to date? The department of transportation can't even keep track of their construction signs and do leaves them up for three months with nothing to be done. I do allow that folks are always on about obeying the posted limits, and at the same time note that this can be significantly different from a sensible speed limit.

  13. Exit Stage Right
    Big Brother

    TomTom Oz is useless for speed data

    I got a TomTom for Xmas - pointless when it comes to speed data even on Major routes like the Monash and Princes Highway (and I know as I drove all the way to Sydney and back from Melbourne)

    VicRoads have such a chaotic speed scheme that the TomTom is usually telling me I can go faster than I actually can or that I am speeding even though I am at the right speed limit. Maybe when VicRoads get the data they'll be able to correct these anomalies and the TomTom will be useful for this type of information - currently only useful for navigation

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