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GPS Maker TomTom Submits Your Speed Data To Police 422

Posted by timothy
from the put-your-speed-trap-riiiiight-here dept.
An anonymous reader writes "The GPS systems in TomTom's Live range all feature built-in 3G data cards, which feed location and route information back to a central server. According to CNET, this data, along with users' speed information, is being made available to local governments and the police." From the article: "Knowing the cops can see where you're driving and how fast you're going is eye-opening stuff, but TomTom says the data is anonymous and can never be traced back to an individual user or device. Ordinarily, we'd be reassured by this, but we recall Apple saying something similar before the location-tracking excrement hit the phone-carrying fan."
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GPS Maker TomTom Submits Your Speed Data To Police

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 28, 2011 @02:01PM (#35965848)

    Then it could print out speeding tickets as you go!

    Also automatic shock collars for when crimes are committed.

  • Why, oh why? (Score:3, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday April 28, 2011 @02:01PM (#35965856)

    Dear TomTom,

    Why would you go and do a stupid thing like this? I loved your products, but I will purchase them no more.

  • by SerpentMage (13390) <ChristianHGross.yahoo@ca> on Thursday April 28, 2011 @02:02PM (#35965866)

    "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," he says.

    Read more: http://crave.cnet.co.uk/cartech/tomtom-admits-to-sending-your-routes-and-speed-information-to-the-police-50003618/#ixzz1KqGfyhmm [cnet.co.uk]

    cough *BS* cough They are using it to make more money and just place the cameras where the probability is higher to make money! Thanks TOM TOM your company was going downhill, but it will REALLY go downhill now!

    • cough *BS* cough They are using it to make more money and just place the cameras where the probability is higher to make money! Thanks TOM TOM your company was going downhill, but it will REALLY go downhill now!

      According to the police in Essex, UK, they have about 100 boxes in the county, and 25 of them contain cameras. All 100 measure the speed, flash a light when you drive past too fast, and count the number of flashes. The main purpose of the boxes is to slow down traffic, and that works equally well with or without camera. They only have 25 cameras because having to handle photos from 100 cameras is too much work. After a while people start figuring out where they get flashed without getting a ticket, so the n

  • our Galtian overlords would work out that privacy is an aspect of security and that pervasive surveillance is an inherent security vulnerability. sigh
    • by lennier (44736)

      our Galtian overlords would work out that privacy is an aspect of security

      Security for who? Your lack of privacy is their security.

  • by orthancstone (665890) on Thursday April 28, 2011 @02:03PM (#35965884)
    This speed trap is brought to you by TomTom.
  • as if millions of shareholders suddenly cried out in terror and were suddenly silenced.

    • Ha, you overestimate [google.com] how much people care, investors and customers alike.

      TomTom is down a whopping 0.8% on the day and over the past 5 days it's up 1.2%. There was a large selloff yesterday morning (presumably the information first became public overnight?) but the price quickly recovered.

  • where doing business at all in the US will require that all consumer data be stored and then anal-ized and offered to the Police State we now live. Its going to get really messy when the union itself stops producing KY to make the process just a little more painful than it already is... Withdraw-pleasure-center syndrome coming.
  • There must be a way to use the 3G data card in there to do some interesting things. And as I understand it, mobile networks (like all wireless networks) require unique identifiers and all manner of other things... things which do trace back to identity. So this claim of being anonymous is simply wrong, misleading and "almost" a lie.

    Still... people pay for the privilege.

  • by fridaynightsmoke (1589903) on Thursday April 28, 2011 @02:05PM (#35965900) Homepage

    The story is that the data was used by Dutch police to determine where to set up speed traps. The data was NOT used to go after any TomTom users for speeding.

    It's still a somewhat dastardly tactic, but not quite what people on here are seeing it to be.

    • As with the iPhone and Android messes, the data IS NOT CURRENTLY used to identify users. (but it could be at the flip of a switch, and by the way, the company says they have the right to do this if they want, because you agreed to the EULATOSetc.)

      • by fridaynightsmoke (1589903) on Thursday April 28, 2011 @02:54PM (#35966698) Homepage

        As with the iPhone and Android messes, the data IS NOT CURRENTLY used to identify users. (but it could be at the flip of a switch, and by the way, the company says they have the right to do this if they want, because you agreed to the EULATOSetc.)

        Agreed, 100%. Someone, somewhere will have a high-speed crash with tragic consequences, then the 'think of the children' folks will start demanding full speed monitoring of all vehicles, with instant prosecution for speeding. That is, if they don't demand 'Intelligent Speed Adaptation' (a GPS unit with a database of all speed limits that physically restricts a vehicle to the speed limit in force), which some are already.

        I think the real problem is that in many cases laws have been passed with sporadic or discretionary enforcement in mind, and more and more new technology is coming along that enables 'total enforcement'. To take speed as an example, someone driving at 80mph in a 70mph limit would probably in 1970 have little to worry about from the police. In 2000 they might have to watch for speed cameras. Now, they hope that the stretch of road they're on doesn't have full-length ANPR enforcement. In 2020 their own car might report them, or physically stop them, lest they become a 'dangerous criminal' risking the lives of the millions of children who play on motorway shoulders.

        The official speed limit hasn't changed, yet the effective speed limit has dropped (and there are opposing arguments about whether that is right, considering improvements in car handling/braking/safety vs increases in general road traffic). The same pattern is repeated for other laws too.

      • Maybe you should have read the user agreement more carefully.

        "We retain the right to alter the agreement for any damn reason we see fit at any time. Pray that we don't alter the agreement further. Any claims to be resolved by the laws of the state of Delaware by a mediator of our choosing, who you will pay for. You have no rights. Those are reserved for corporations, not people. Just hand over the money and nobody needs to get hurt. Click-through agreements aren't enforceable. But we can use them to bully you into not exercising your non-existent rights."

    • by Korveck (1145695)
      It does not change the fact that TomTom is secretly submitting data collected from its customers to the police for a profit. I don't want the bottom line of privacy to be "as long as your name does not appear on it, it is fine".
    • Does it matter if they are tracking who it is or not? It would be one thing if police officers, police departments and other government agencies weren't greedy and they would use this data to show that the speed limit should be increased, but it won't be used this way. You and I both know that all this will be used to do is make money for the police force to justify its existence and expansion in low crime areas.
    • by Teun (17872) on Thursday April 28, 2011 @02:42PM (#35966444) Homepage
      Yesterday morning he story broke via the largest Dutch newspaper and last night I received a mail from TomTom stating this was not what they expected and they would prevent any further use of their data for this purpose.

      What actually happened is they sell the aggregated data to whoever is interested, one company distilled out the stretches of road where most speeding happened and sold it to the police.

      Then the police used this to select places for speed traps.

  • Attention. (Score:5, Funny)

    by kitsunewarlock (971818) on Thursday April 28, 2011 @02:05PM (#35965904) Journal
    You only have six points remaining on your license.
    • by powerlord (28156)

      Please purchase more points through our Associated Marketplace to continue your driving experience without having your License Revoked.

      Remember! The more you buy, the more you save!

  • I don't really think Apple is in the same ballpark here. A cache that stays on the phone and isn't deleted due to a bug is very different than a GPS device that shares data with the police.

  • Reassured?? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Concern (819622) * on Thursday April 28, 2011 @02:10PM (#35965982) Journal

    Why on earth would you be reassured?

    "Anonymous" GPS traces that start and/or end with your home every day are not anonymous. Apple tried that trick - it's an intelligence test for the masses.

    • Re: (Score:2, Troll)

      by StikyPad (445176)

      If you're using a GPS to get to and from you home every day, you might have bigger problems, and indeed, it's probably best that someone's keeping track of you.

      • by Concern (819622) *

        Apple collects this data under the context of i.e. iAds and transmits it back whether you use the GPS or not. As for TomTom... well, you'll find out if you're foolish and self-hating enough to remain a TomTom customer.

    • by houghi (78078)

      As my GPS is not calibrated as required by law, it would take about 2 seconds for a drunk first year student to kill this in court.

      OTOH it shows that companies do not care about your data and who gets it.

    • by node 3 (115640)

      How did Apple try "this trick"? They never store secific locations, and never tied together location data, even from the same device. It really is completely anonymous.

      Let's assume the iOS data includes speed (it doesn't, but potentially could). The way it works is that Apple would never know that the phone that was traveling 90MPH at 10am was the same phone that was connected to the cell tower 3 miles from your home and saw the six WiFi access points in your neighborhood at 6am.

      I don't know how TomTom's an

      • by Concern (819622) *

        How did Apple try "this trick"? They never store secific locations, and never tied together location data, even from the same device. It really is completely anonymous.

        Wrong. [toptechreviews.net]

        I stopped there. Accepting apologies in this thread anytime.

  • by erroneus (253617) on Thursday April 28, 2011 @02:13PM (#35966058) Homepage

    http://corporate.tomtom.com/contactus.cfm [tomtom.com]

    Send the a message directly. I think that'll be a great way to slashdo... err I mean get the message across to them.

  • The information may be "anonymous" but it's still your exact position. They need to find you and pull you over anyway. It's anonymous in the same way a radar blip is anonymous.
  • by LordStormes (1749242) on Thursday April 28, 2011 @02:27PM (#35966204) Homepage Journal

    I don't have a TomTom (got an Android and TomTom in the same birthday), but I don't believe you have to register for any TomTom service, you just buy the thing, plug it in, and it does map-stuff. Unless you sign up for their map update service, I doubt they HAVE your information to give to LEOs. What can they tell you, the serial number of the unit in your car? I'm sure law enforcement, with the ten minutes a month they don't spend trying to hunt down people with insignificant personal quantities of marijuana, will set up a checkpoint so they can check the serial numbers of every TomTom looking for that bastard with serial #93824920535326469 who went 5 miles over the speed limit last week at 4am.

    • when the location track starts and ends AT YOUR FREAKING HOUSE every day?

    • They just have to check to see where it spends the most time parked. In almost all cases, those will be your home and your job/school.
    • I'm sure law enforcement, with the ten minutes a month they don't spend trying to hunt down people with insignificant personal quantities of marijuana, will set up a checkpoint so they can check the serial numbers of every TomTom looking for that bastard with serial #93824920535326469 who went 5 miles over the speed limit last week at 4am.

      But your missing the point. Sure, the Police are unlikely to target you, anonymous peon in the great game, with any sort of energy. However, when you suddenly decide to clamp on the tinfoil hat even tighter, put on your secret decoder ring and start on your plan to become Master of the Universe, THEN they will quietly talk to the seedy looking guy in the basement of the PD, the guy with all the blinking electronic gizmos and computers that have login screens with 100 point type (and an FBI badge). He w

  • TomTom GPS unit, excellent condition, easy to use. Cheap! Will trade for a comparable Other GPS unit.
  • Yeah, your tracking data is anonymous... until it shows your anonymous but unique tracking data number driving 80MPH and then parking at the same house every evening.
    • by demonbug (309515)

      Yeah, your tracking data is anonymous... until it shows your anonymous but unique tracking data number driving 80MPH and then parking at the same house every evening.

      That's why I always park on my neighbor's lawn. Just in case.
      Also, free car wash every other day.

  • This may skirt dangerously close to a Fifth Amendment (self-incrimination) issue. The standard example was the NY Thruway, where the entry and exit times were used (along with the Intermediate Value Theorem, which makes it a great problem for intro calc classes) to prove speeding. The judge tossed it on the basis that drivers were compelled to "testify" against themselves by paying the toll.

    That's why you're not getting a ticket based on the toll transponders you use every day.

    An argument could be made t

  • Location data that starts and ends at your house every day is not anonymous. Futhermore, this is one of those things you shouldn't give a inch on, it's only a small step now to track 'dissidents' that go to mosques or Democratic party meetings, gay/lesbian support groups, etc. Of course, it will only hurt the innocent, as the bad guys wouldn't be dumb enough to keep this.
  • Although the data is anonymous, it is used to determine the places on the highway where the average speed is the highest. That's where the police sets up their speeding camera. Not where speeding might present the biggest danger, but where the financial reward is the highest.

    This confirms once more that speed traps are tax devices and not meant to make traffic any safer.

  • Tom Tom does not need to submit any user ID. The police can build their own database from red light cameras and photo radar. Location, time, speed, database. Add in RFID in the tire pressure monitors and Tom Tom can make that claim with a clear conscience. This does not rule out the creation of a 3rd party database.

  • "The GPS systems in TomTom's Live range all feature built-in 3G data cards, which feed location and route information back to a central server. According to CNET, this data, along with users' speed information, is being made available to local governments and the police.""
    and then:
    "TomTom says the data is anonymous and can never be traced back to an individual user or device."

    Ok TomTom, if you're telling them my location, heading, and speed... don't you think it would be rather easy for them to figure out w

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