Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Hope it was worth it, TomTom

One of the world’s largest GPS manufacturers is taking some heat after it was revealed they sold user data to law enforcement agencies, including motorist speeds and locations.

TomTom, which makes GPS devices for motorists, recently confirmed that it has sold user data to police.

The data, in turn, was used by Dutch police to drum up new speed trap locations.

In all fairness, TomTom says the data-gathering function can be turned off and is gathered anonymously.

And as is the case with lease purchases, the devil is in the fine-print details in both contracts and terms-of-use agreements.

The Consumer Reports article that I linked to above pointed out that revenue from GPS devices has fallen as more customers use smart phones for mapping and navigation.

As a colleague said to me, “This is PR 101 for how to kill a company.” Not only that, but it will be interesting to see what kind of reaction the American public has to speeds and traveling distances of automobiles being tracked, hint hint.

I’m sure TomTom saw a nice profit from selling the speeding data. I sure hope the fallout they’re about to experience was worth it.