Apple was recently found tracking the location of its iPhone users, but it doesn't appear to be the only gadget maker consumers using its devices. Navigation system maker TomTom was providing data to Dutch police forces that allowed them to enact speed traps.
The introduction of consumer-grade portable navigation systems have helped drivers get to their destinations easier than before, but the very devices that have helped them are now being used by Dutch police officers to determine locations where drivers speed. Police in the Netherlands have compiled data from TomTom's devices to decide the best places for speed traps and cameras.
"We learned today police in the Netherlands are using that information to identify road stretches where people in general and on average drive too fast. They use that also to put up speed cameras and speed traps, and we don't like that, because our customers don't like that. We will prevent that type of usage of our data in the future," said TomTom CEO Harold Goddijn in a video posted yesterday on YouTube.
TomTom itself uses customer data to help reroute drivers approaching traffic jams, but also shares the information with local governments, in the hope they will study traffic patterns and discover areas of safety concern. However, it insists that the information provided is not intended to help governments catch speeders. The navi-maker further defends itself from any idea of being unfriendly to speeders by touting the speed camera notification feature found on several of its models (but if the police use the data to move those cameras on a regular basis, what's the point?).
The company insists all user information is anonymous and even it can't trace records back to a specific user. TomTom also notes any location data collected has only been done following the permission of each individual owner, likely by means of hitting an 'OK' or 'Accept' button before using the device.
Tracking user locations is nothing new, but quickly becoming an issue with users of mobile phones, gaming systems, and now navigation systems. What are your thoughts? Does tracking users help companies provide better services or is it an invasion of privacy? Are you calling TomTom's data sharing plan fair or foul? Share your thoughts in the comments section below.