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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 smelch (1988698) on Thursday April 28, 2011 @02:09PM (#35965976)
    No, not at all. You stop accidents where accidents happen. Speeding does not always mean crashing. Most people are perfectly capable of controlling their vehicle and allowing sufficient space beyond the ridiculously low limits.
  • 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.

  • by vikisonline (1917814) on Thursday April 28, 2011 @02:11PM (#35966010)
    No. Those cameras cause accidents. Speeding is not a danger. People noticing the cameras and ramming their brakes on is.
  • Re:Apple apologist (Score:5, Insightful)

    by icebike (68054) on Thursday April 28, 2011 @02:12PM (#35966048)

    I am an apple apologist, I guess. The reason is that I see the fact that Apple stores your location data on your cell phone when you are using their _location_ services as less serious than TomTom _giving_away_ your data to the authorities on a general basis, with no warrant or anything of the sort. Funny thing is, I don't even have an iPhone myself, and even I think that analogy fails pretty miserably.

    I couldn't agree more. Apple simple created a security weakness on your phone and on your own computer, but didn't (as far as anyone has shown) upload this data to anyone.

    TomTom has just joined my permanent Do Not Buy list. Their allegations that it can't be tracked ring hollow.

  • by Attila Dimedici (1036002) on Thursday April 28, 2011 @02:15PM (#35966072)

    Isn't that exactly the same thing? If you want to make money, you place cameras where people most often speed. If you want to prevent high-speed accidents... just the same.

    No, it isn't. If you want to make money, you place cameras where people most often speed. If you want to prevent high speed accidents, you assign police officers to patrol areas where people drive dangerously. Speed ticket cameras do not cause people to slow down (or at least they take a significant amount of time to do so). The presence of police officers always results in people slowing down. Additionally, areas where the police are frequently visible have significantly slower traffic than areas where the police are rarely seen.

  • by mldi (1598123) on Thursday April 28, 2011 @02:15PM (#35966076)
    Not the same. For example, a straight non-residential road with an unusually low speed limit will get tons of speeders, but that wouldn't translate to more high-speed accidents. It just means the limit posted is too low relative to similar roads.
  • Re:Apple apologist (Score:4, Insightful)

    by UncleTogie (1004853) on Thursday April 28, 2011 @02:33PM (#35966284) Homepage Journal

    Personally, I view this development as a positive for safety on the roads - roads where 10s of thousands die each year where both speed and DUI are major contributors.

    Sure, DUIs are unsafe, but speed by itself isn't a killer... {Yes, you said "contributed", I know...}

    Speeding inappropriately is what kills people. The Autobahn {and German driving in general} is an example of what we should have here.

  • by ColdWetDog (752185) on Thursday April 28, 2011 @02:36PM (#35966328) Homepage

    Most people are perfectly capable of controlling their vehicle and allowing sufficient space beyond the ridiculously low limits.

    Where do you live? MOST places I've driven, the only safe speed would be zero. Really, there are enormous numbers of drivers who have fundamental issues with parking lots, much less the actual roadway.

  • Re:Apple apologist (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Entropius (188861) on Thursday April 28, 2011 @02:39PM (#35966404)

    That's also how shenanigans work -- they're not stopped until they are discovered.

  • 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.

  • by M. Baranczak (726671) on Thursday April 28, 2011 @03:06PM (#35966924)

    So it's actually worse... they don't just give out people's info to the cops, they give it out to anyone who can pay.

  • by smelch (1988698) on Thursday April 28, 2011 @03:18PM (#35967142)

    They do that because the speed limit is too low. Why would they be right up on your ass if they were going the speed they wanted to be at? Why would they be changing lanes like that if they're not trying to get around the flock of slow people in the wrong lane? People driving 65mph in the far left lane (assuming 65mph speed limit on the freeway) are the reason everybody is right up on each other's asses making the road more dangerous than it has to be. Stretches of my morning commute where the traffic begins driving 75 - 85mph have nobody on my ass and I'm not on anybody's ass either. Its only those spots where somebody is driving 60 - 65mph across all the lanes that lead to very dense traffic with narrow distances between cars.

  • Re:Apple apologist (Score:5, Insightful)

    by PFI_Optix (936301) on Thursday April 28, 2011 @03:22PM (#35967182) Journal

    Red light cameras, when used properly, are great. They do a great job of stopping the idiots who think "just one more" is okay. The problem comes when they are treated as a source of revenue: the camera warning signs get taken down (I've seen this happen in a nearby town) and then the yellow light cycle is shortened to get tickets from people who actually know the light timings. My hometown installed cameras a few years ago, and one very bright member of the city council managed to push a law through which required warning signs within xxx feet of the intersection AND mandated yellow light times according to the speed limit. Their ticket revenue went up and then back down, and the accident rate went down as well.

    Likewise, anonymous speed data would be hugely useful to city planners. If people are constantly speeding through an area that has almost no accidents, they could consider raising the speed limit on a trial basis. People who drive 55 in a 45 all the time will usually drive 60 in a 50, so ticket revenue will still be there. Higher speed limits mean being able to move more cars through on the same lanes, rather than having to sink money into additional lanes when a road gets overcrowded.

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