Spoke on the Today Show about TomTom, who have taken a few hits over the past week. The GPS company has admitted that it does collect the data people download to their PC, and will be selling it off to third parties. A few media outlets have feigned outrage on the public’s behalf about them doing such, but really, there is there much to it?
How it basically works is like this – your TomTom records all your travel information as you go – roads you go on, speeds you travel and time it takes you to get there. When you sync the device to your PC to get updates, it downloads all the information and aggregates it to a central TomTom data bank.
The main reason for them doing this is so people can share their data, which is especially cool if you are travelling in the same direction as somebody else who has a TomTom and they find a better route. You will then get that information when you sync your device to your PC for updates.
What does concern people is the personal information that will be available. TomTom is at pains to tell people that the details are aggregated and no traceable info – DOB, address, name or phone numbers – are collected by the device.
Unfortunately, in the Netherlands, TomTom has received bad press because they recently sold a whole swag of this information to the local police, who used the information to see where people were exceeding speed limits and then set traps to catch motorists out.
TomTom Australia have not said whether they will do the same here, only that they will be selling the information. So, the jury is out .