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TomTom apologizes for helping police catch speeders

By Matthew · 41 replies
Apr 29, 2011
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  1. With smartphones, tablets and other mobile electronics offering integrated GPS functionality, single-purpose GPS devices are becoming less popular among consumers. Naturally, less interest equates to weaker sales and that's affecting the bottom line of companies like TomTom. To compensate for declining sales, the Dutch manufacturer recently said it would focus on expanding its service revenues --including selling user-derived traffic data to the government.

    Read the whole story
  2. lawfer

    lawfer TechSpot Paladin Posts: 1,270   +91

    Isn't catching speeders... a good thing?
  3. Scshadow

    Scshadow TS Evangelist Posts: 557   +199

    It would be one thing if they linked data back to the user and charged them with speeding. Its another thing to use anonymous data to start cracking down on speeders. Don't apologize for ****.
  4. HaMsTeYr

    HaMsTeYr TS Guru Posts: 377   +6


    I guess people generally don't like to be fined, though I find this a good thing. I think it sort of runs along the lines of privacy breach and what not too...

    People generally don't like the "Big Brother is watching" deal.
  5. MrAnderson

    MrAnderson TS Maniac Posts: 488   +10

    Actually I don't think this was a bad idea, but the information should go both ways.

    As part of the deal to exchange aggregate customer information... customers should have been provide with information regarding "hot zones" - areas that are considered speeding coridors and been forwarned...

    Isn't the point of stopping speeding to save lives and to keep traffic running smoothly? Or was the windfall of data just a fundraiser for governement?
  6. Timonius

    Timonius TS Evangelist Posts: 648   +58

    *Government misusing data? no way! *end sarcasm
  7. I'm inclined to side with MrAnderson on this. Two-way information is fair and promotes both public safety and education. If people know that they'll in a monitored area where speeding is high (and perhaps the risk of traffic accident as well), the better for them. And law enforcement can do their jobs better, with information enabling them to do so.

    The main sticking point here is that speeding is a safety hazard, and when people claim privacy to cover up irresponsibility and safety for others, that's when liberty is abused.

    I find it irritating how outraged people become when some governing authority discovers them doing something stupid / illegal / irresponsible / dastardly in a way they thought they could get away with. As if getting away with it is supposed to make it better.
  8. SNGX1275

    SNGX1275 TS Forces Special Posts: 10,546   +430

    Well in this case, it wasn't able to be tied to any specific individual, but obviously the technology exists so that it could be.

    For all of you people on your high horses about catching speeders.. thats fine, if you get caught then you have no one to blame but yourself. But when government agencies are using devices in individual cars to monitor your speed at all times, it is not. If its going to be that way at some point in the future, maybe they are better off making all cars with a receiver that collects data from entrances to roads to see what the speed limit is, then limit the cars speed to that.
  9. LookinAround

    LookinAround Ex Tech Spotter Posts: 6,430   +186

    I think the key is anonymizing the data. I’m OK with government drawing conclusions when it’s based on aggregated and anonymized data.

    We can all reap the benefit of large amounts of anonymized data: We'd all like to see accurate real-time traffic reports displayed on our GPS nav system And if real time traffic display could show a driver the current average speed on the road was 70mph (even tho speed limit was 55mph?) – would it be OK for a driver to speed? Or wrong for the police to set up road traps?!

    But now also consider that “two way street” of information flow: Would you want a reckless / impaired driver to be able ask their GPS nav system for a route that avoids DUI checkpoints and speed traps??? I would not.
  10. captaincranky

    captaincranky TechSpot Addict Posts: 14,599   +3,771

    With something like this in force, the "Rush hour" would likely extend to about 9:00 PM. The quickest way to get killed in rush hour traffic is to try traveling at the speed limit.
  11. gwailo247

    gwailo247 TechSpot Chancellor Posts: 2,007   +18

    I've gone back and forth on this particular subject, but ultimately nobody is either forcing, nor enticing anyone to break the law.
  12. Uh no, it's not a good thing, since speed limits are artificially low and were introduced when cars' handling and braking was far inferior to a typical modern car. If we reduced the speed limit on all roads to 5 mph and people stuck to it then there would be far less road fatalities, but it would rightly be seen as ridiculous, but the current situation where speed limits are set two or three times lower than a competent driver in a modern car is capable of traveling at without incident isn't much less stupid.
  13. Kibaruk

    Kibaruk TechSpot Paladin Posts: 3,747   +1,144

    You couldn't have put it in any better way.
  14. abe10tiger

    abe10tiger TechSpot Paladin Posts: 612   +16

    Isn't this suppose to be a good thing? :p
  15. Archean

    Archean TechSpot Paladin Posts: 5,634   +98

    +1 MrA

    There is already some discussions about placing a 'blackbox' type of device in cars (I hope it won't happen though).
  16. speed is everything, speed is life, speed is ours.
  17. why manufacturers dont block speed limit to 130 km/h? why?? because speed is legal or what else?
  18. They were not trying to catch dangerous speeders who drive significantly faster than the average traffic flow. They were trying to harvest a source of money from the general public. This is shown directly by their targeting areas where all the traffic is traveling faster than the posted limit, instead of areas where a minority of car are found to be traveling dangerously faster than the rest of the traffic. Big difference in terms of enforcing safety, or just taking our money.
  19. mosu

    mosu TS Evangelist Posts: 494   +104

    Big Brother with little brothers like Apple and now TomTom.Never submit your data to anyone!
  20. They have proven higher speeds don't cause higher accident rates. Accidents are caused by lack of focus, horrible luck, and or poor driving.
  21. gwailo247

    gwailo247 TechSpot Chancellor Posts: 2,007   +18

    Why would you not target the area where most people are likely to be speeding? Kinda dumb to set up a camera that may catch a speeder once every two weeks, rather than one that catches 10 people daily.

    I'm all against speed traps, but everyone is acting like speed limits are just set deliberately to inconvenience people. In most cases its done with safety in mind, not as a way to line coffers. Its not a toll booth, nobody is forcing you to speed.

    People run red lights going 20 mph over the limit, get caught by a camera, and act like they're the subject of some FBI sting and their civil liberties are being trampled upon.
  22. NickV

    NickV TS Rookie

    Looks good
  23. Shnig

    Shnig TS Enthusiast Posts: 169

    "In most cases its done with safety in mind" Lies. The reason most people including me are so annoyed with speed checks is that they are nearly always done at places where speeding is "safe" i.e a highway where accidents rarely happen this is done to boost numbers so the middle management can boast about figures. If it was really about saving lives they would do speed checks on the small windy country roads where in my country at least most of the accidents happen.
  24. **** no *****!
  25. gwailo247

    gwailo247 TechSpot Chancellor Posts: 2,007   +18

    The problem begins when people start deciding what is and what is not safe. Your definition of safe may not be some other person's definition of safe. I've seen people drive outside an elementary school when kids are getting out at over 40 mph. They probably feel that they're being safe too. One of the reasons why we have laws and not customs.

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