Considering the recent news about mobile devices and the storage of user data in relation to location, this next revelation probably isn’t much of a surprise, but yet, here we go again. TomTom, the popular GPS device, also tracks user data, obviously via the GPS technology they employ. Although this is pretty much business as usual for companies in the mobile tech industry, the data collected by TomTom users is actually shared.
The difference is, neither Apple or Microsoft share the data they collect. TomTom, on the other hand, does.
While they maintain a position that all user data is anonymous, they do share it with government officials, specifically, the traffic information. Not only that, but TomTom also shares vehicular speed data, allowing the police to place speed-deterring cameras at known speeding hotspots. So while the data from individual vehicles remains secret, the fact that TomTom customers speed is not. A direct quote from the company addresses the situation:
We are now aware that the police have used traffic information that you have helped to create to place speed cameras at dangerous locations where the average speed is higher than the legally allowed speed limit. We are aware a lot of our customers do not like the idea and we will look at if we should allow this type of usage [emphasis added by editor].
While the adherence to keeping its customers anonymous, is it much of a stretch to think law enforcement agencies will want more from this technology? Perhaps a daily list of speeders they can send snail mail tickets to? Is that too much of a tin foil approach? Perhaps, but considering the way the US government has already ignored a user’s right to privacy concerning wireless tech, perhaps not.
TomTom users can opt out of the data collection aspect of using the device, provided the conspiracy against them is getting a little too close for comfort. Apparently, and perhaps thankfully, the TomTom company is a little embarrassed by the news concerning their data collection protocols, and so, CEO Harold Goddijn has been making the rounds in an attempt to salve any wounds:
It’s pretty clear snitches will never be an acceptable aspect of society.