TomTom says police used reports to set speed traps
AMSTERDAM — TomTom NV, Europe’s largest navigation device maker, went into damage control mode yesterday after it emerged that Dutch police have been using data collected from drivers who use the company’s products to set speed traps.
Earlier, TomTom had reported weak first quarter earnings in which it cut 2011 sales forecasts and said it was seeking to compensate for a decline in demand for personal navigation devices by growing service revenues — including selling traffic data to governments.
National newspaper Algemeen Dagblad reported that police had obtained the information from the government and used it to set targeted speed traps, prompting angry reactions from TomTom users.
In an e-mailed apology, chief executive Harold Goddijn said the company sold the anonymous data believing it would be used to improve safety or relieve traffic bottlenecks.
“We never foresaw this kind of use and many of our clients are not happy about it,’’ he wrote.
He promised licensing agreements would “prevent this type of use in the future.’’
TomTom reported first quarter net profit of $16 million, up from $4.3 million in the same period a year earlier.
Around half of its revenues now come from automakers who incorporate TomTom products into their cars and from services paying for map and traffic information.