Get the feeling you are being watched? If you have a TomTom GPS device, you are. GPS maker TomTom has admitted to collecting traffic data from every Australian user of its devices in the past three years.
The Australian Financial Review reported that anonymised Australian data would be packaged and auctioned later this year.
TomTom has faced a backlash from users in the Netherlands for selling collated speed data to police, to inform the placement of speed cameras. Making journey duration predictions more accurate was the company’s initial reason for deciding to collect motorist information.
This announcement has caused concern about the privacy of motorists, with Electronic Frontiers Australia chair Colin Jacobs warning that companies’ claims of aggregating and anonymising data “doesn’t always wash”.
“It’s not clear enough what’s happening and what they’re doing with the data,” he said.
“The data could be taken between a user’s home and workplace. How easy is it to anonymise?”
Jacobs added that it wasn’t in the interests of TomTom “to consider how a motivated party could link data back to a person”.
“And the harder they try to anonymise the data, the less value it has [to potential buyers],” he noted.
Jacobs was also critical of companies that included controversial terms of service with products, basically saying customers have little choice when it comes to the issue of companies using their information.
He said that giving customers a choice between “agreeing to legalese or not using the device at all” was “not a fair way to present [the issue] to a user who’s just bought the device”.
“The terms and conditions might say they’re able to use the data [like TomTom did], but for practical purposes, I don’t think that’s a good way to treat customers.”