Police use data from sat-nav firm to set up speed traps
Published 29/04/2011 | 05:00
The world's biggest satellite navigation device maker has admitted that it has sold motorist's information, gathered from its in-car GPS systems, which was subsequently used by police to plan speed traps.
Dutch company Tom Tom says it has been embarrassed that police acted on information sold to local authorities to help them to target speeding car drivers.
Almost half of the police in the Netherlands were acting on the data, which was unwittingly provided by Tom Tom users to help the sat-nav provider give congestion updates and to route drivers away from traffic jams.
Harold Goddijn, the company's chief executive, sent an apology by email Thursday to all of Tom Tom's users in the Netherlands and promised that the information would never be handed to the police again.
"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 said.
Mr Goddijn said that most motorists were happy for their information to be used to help city planners build roads or introduce safety features but added that Tom Tom shared their anger that it been given to the police.
"We have learnt that police have been using that information to identify road stretches, where people are driving too fast, to put up cameras and make speed traps," he said. "We don't like that because our customers don't like that."
The disclosure angered Tom Tom customers and increased fears that mobile GPS technology was being used to track its users.
A Tom Tom sat-nav gathers speed information automatically and the data is then collected on a central database to help improve lucrative traffic services, telling the motorists the quickest route and where there are congestion black spots.
More than 90pc of Tom Tom drivers, who make up 37pc of the market, take part in the collation of their motoring information, which is collected only when the sat-nav is connected to a computer. (© Daily Telegraph, London)