Satnav maker gives data to police

Posted by Emma Woollacott

Europe's largest satnav manufacturer, TomTom, has apologized to customers after admitting it sold driver data to the cops.

TomTom customers routinely give permission to the company to collect travel time information. But Dutch newspaper Algemeen Dagblad reports that the company has been handing over this data on its customers to help the police choose locations for speed cameras.

The company has now apologized, saying it gave out the information only because it believed that the move would help reduce traffic accidents. It also says that all data was anonymized.

"When you connect your TomTom to a computer we aggregate this information and use it for a variety of applications, most importantly to create high quality traffic information and to route you around traffic jams. We also make this information available to local governments and authorities. It helps them to better understand where congestion takes place, where to build new roads and how to make
roads safer," chief executive Harold Goddijn told customers in an email.

"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."

With poor sales forcasts for the quarter, TomTom recently said that it was hoping to grow revenues from the sale of traffic data to governments. The data seems to have been passed on to the police without TomTom's knowledge.