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Could Your GPS Be Helping the Police?

Posted by attorney Thomas Wallin

We all rely on our GPS devices to help us navigate around the streets of California, and some may even use their devices to alert them of California sobriety checkpoints.

But is our technology being used against us?

According to PC Magazine, in the case of TomTom GPS owners, this conspiracy theory has some truth.

When you sign up for the TomTom GPS device service, the company asks you agree to allow the company to collect "travel time information." According to TomTom, it uses this information to "create high quality traffic information and to route you around traffic jams and get you to your destination as quickly and safely as possible."

However, it turns out that TomTom also sold this information to local governments. While this information was intended so that authorities could "better understand where congestion takes place, where to build new roads and how to make roads safer," TomTom recently discovered that local police used the information in an "unforeseen" way to determine where to set up speed traps.

Not surprisingly, many customers were unhappy that their data had been used in this way.

In response, TomTom recently send a letter to its customers that apologized for selling their data to police. "We are aware a lot of our customers do not like the idea and we will look at if we should allow this type of usage," the email stated.

This is an interesting story and raises the question of whether GPS and cell phone data could someday be used by law enforcement to make California DUI arrests.

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