Driver data used by Dutch police to set speed traps

TomTom apologises for selling driver data

Sat nav maker TomTom has admitted selling customer data which was used by Dutch police to set speed traps.

The company has been forced to apologise after a Dutch newspaper reported that police had obtained TomTom data from the government and used it to set targeted speed traps.

TomTom sold the anonymous data believing it to be used to improve safety or relieve traffic bottlenecks, chief executive Harold Goddijn said in an apology.

"We never foresaw this kind of use and many of our clients are not happy about it," he said. "Customers come first at TomTom."

TomTom asks for permission from its customers to collect travel time information on an anonymous basis, Goddijn said, adding that "the vast majority" granted that permission.

"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," he said.

The information was also made available to local governments and authorities, Goddijn said, to help them "better understand where congestion takes place, where to build new roads and how to make roads safer".

"We are actively promoting the use of this information because we believe we can help make roads safer and less congested."

However after being made aware that the police had used traffic information from TomTom customers to place speed cameras, the TomTom executive said the company was "aware a lot of our customers do not like the idea and we will look at if we should allow this type of usage" and promised licensing agreements would "prevent this type of use in the future".

"We make all traffic data anonymous - we can never trace it back to you or your device," he said.

TomTom reported first quarter net profit of 11 million euro (£9.6 million), up from three million euro in the same period a year earlier. 

It also reported worse-than-expected sales of 265 million euro, a one per cent decline, causing it to cut its minimum full year sales target from 1.52 billion to 1.425 billion euro. 

TomTom said it expects the market for personal navigation devices to shrink by at least 15 per cent this year amid poor consumer demand and competition from substitutes such as tablet computers and smartphones.

It is seeking to diversify its offerings away from the ailing market for its flagship product, dashboard-mounted sat-nav devices.

Around half of its revenues now come from car makers who incorporate TomTom products into their vehicles and from services, including companies and governments paying for map and traffic information.

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