Large print giveth; the fine print taketh away

TomTom Corporate Logo

As Tom Waits (an American singer, songwriter, composer) once said, “The large print giveth, but the small print taketh away.”  Truer words have not have been spoken.

From the You-Have-Got-To-Be-Sh^H^H Kidding Me Department…  As reported on ReadWriteWeb on April 28, 2011 the GPS manufacturer TomTom was caught with its hand in the cookie jar.  The company company sold speed data (collected while its customers were navigating with the TomTom application) to POLICE in the Netherlands!!!  The fact that it was not personally identifiable means little in my opinion.

What percentage of TomTom customers actually read (and appreciated) the TomTom Terms of Service?  Somewhere in those Terms of Service, TomTom asserted the right to do anything they wanted (including sell to the police) with the data their device collected while riding around in your car.

Here’s an idea for a consumer-facing startup subscription service.  Consumers register and identify the products and services they use or are contemplating using.  This startup (let’s call it fine-print-taketh-away.com) would legally review the licenses and highlight the issues about which you should be aware (e.g., your GPS vendor can use your navigation data in any way they like including selling it to the police).  You would get notified when they changed their terms of service.  I’d pay for that…

Dutch speakers can read the original article.  English speakers can use a Google translation of the story to get the gist of the story.

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