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It appears every gadget in your possession is tracking your location. First it was the iPhone, then Android phones and now it's your bleedin' sat-nav. TomTom, perhaps in a pre-emptive strike against its own user-tracking scandal, has admitted its sat-navs can track users and inform third parties about how fast they're going. The sat-navs in TomTom's Live range all feature built-in 3G data cards, which feed location and route information back to a central server, which allows TomTom to create a map of congestion hotspots. It's now emerged that this data, however, along with a user's speed, is being made available to local governments and authorities.
TomTom CEO Harold Goddijn revealed the information on the company's website. "We are now aware that the police have used traffic information that you have helped to create to place speed cameras at dangerous locations where the average speed is higher than the legally allowed speed limit," he says. Knowing the cops can see where you're driving and how fast you're going is eye-opening stuff, but TomTom says the data is anonymous and can never be traced back to an individual user or device. Ordinarily, we'd be reassured by this, but we recall Apple saying something similar before the location-tracking excrement hit the phone-carrying fan.
The good news here, for the paranoid drivers among us, is it's possible to opt out of the data-collection feature on TomTom's Live sat-navs. This rather defeats the object though -- if everyone with a TomTom Live sat-nav opted out, there'd be no Live data to help users avoid traffic blackspots and you'll have wasted your money by splashing out on a high-end GPS system.
Crave is now taking bets on what device will create the next tracking storm. Will our refrigerators start monitoring how many pies we've eaten? Will our door locks start telling our mums that we're staying out til the wee hours? Will our computers tell our boss we've spent all day looking at cats on YouTube instead of doing any... hang on a minute... dammit!