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.
That decision backfired this week when customers discovered that police departments in the Netherlands were using the GPS information to catch speeders. In a video, TomTom CEO Harold Goddijn said the company sold the data to local authorities so they could identify traffic congestions and other road hazards. However, the cops thought it would be clever to deploy traps such as cameras where the data showed motorists were most likely to violate the speed limit.
In an apology, Goddijn said the company was unaware the government was using your data in this fashion and he promised to prevent that type of usage in the future. While the information was being misused, Goddijn assured customers that their data submissions are entirely anonymous and cannot be linked back to a specific GPS device. It's worth mentioning that users can opt out of the data collection, but TomTom discourages that for obvious reasons.