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Privacy Concerns With Nuvi 2595LM

So, I wanted to make a full backup, and enabled "mass storage mode" so that I could make a snapshot of the full image in the Nuvi.

Poking about, I found .System/Logs/searches.txt, and it contained every search for a location done on the GPS.
This plaintext file would, in essence, reveal everywhere I went, and when I went, assuming I used the GPS to navigate there.

Sure, I can periodically delete it, but how much information on my specific travels is being stored in this little device?
Is anyone else concerned about the privacy implications of a log being kept of one's travels, without a easy way to wipe the history log?


  • privet01 228 Points
    edited June 2015
    Privacy went out the window when people got smart phones and app developers dangled cute little programs in front of us for free or little cost.

    But log files have been on gps's from the beginning. Typically so you could see your previous trips when you connected to a computer and used programs to view it.
  • alanb 556 Points
    edited June 2015

    Is anyone else concerned about the privacy implications of a log being kept of one's travels, without a easy way to wipe the history log?

    Nope! Not me anyway. It is easy enough to clear it, It isn't connected to anything except when I connect it. And besides, I don't really care who knows where I go .... it would be a pretty boring thing to spend time on. Compared to Google, cell phones and other technologies, it is pretty trivial. I have lots of other things to worry about besides that.
  • Boyd 1999 Points
    edited June 2015
    It doesn't keep me up at night, but I think there are privacy concerns with the Nuvi or any other device that records your location. By default I believe the trip log is enabled on the Nuvi and that records your position whenever the nuvi is on. You can disable this on most of the newer models. Older model Nuvis were always recording your position and you could not disable this function, only clear the data.

    It's worth reading Garmin's privacy policy here. I think it's one of those things that we mindlessly agree to when we click "OK" during software updates. ;)

    I like this part….

    We may also disclose Personal Information about you to others as we believe to be necessary or appropriate: (a) under applicable law or regulation, including laws or regulations outside your country of residence; (b) to comply with legal process; (c) to respond to requests from public authorities and law enforcement officials, including officials outside your country of residence; (d) to assist or support theft investigations involving Garmin products or property, (e) to enforce any of our terms and conditions or policies; (f) to protect our operations or those of any of our affiliates and subsidiaries; (g) to protect the rights, privacy, safety or property of Garmin, its affiliates and subsidiaries, you, or others; or (h) to permit us to pursue available remedies or limit the damages that we may sustain.
  • DerekW 232 Points
    It is the trip log that encourages me to use the Garmin rather than the SatNav built in to the car, apart from the challenging way of setting up destinations etc.

    I like seeing where I have travelled and the altitude of the journey.

    For one trip I had the SatNav running for 12 days tracking where the ship went when travelling from Bergen to Kirkeness and back - great way to locate any pictures I took.
  • Boyd 1999 Points
    edited June 2015
    DerekW said:

    I like seeing where I have travelled and the altitude of the journey.

    I wouldn't put too much faith in the altitude readings from your Nuvi. :)

    How accurate is the GPS elevation reading?

    GPS heights are based on an ellipsoid (a mathematical representation of the earth's shape), while USGS map elevations are based on a vertical datum tied to the geoid (or what is commonly called mean sea level). Basically, they are two different systems, although they have a relationship that has been modeled.

    The main source of error has to do with the arrangement of the satellite configurations during fix determinations. The earth blocks out satellites needed to get a good quality vertical measurement. Once the vertical datum is taken into account, the accuracy permitted by geometry considerations remains less than that of horizontal positions. It is not uncommon for satellite heights to be off from map elevations by +/- 400 ft. Use these values with caution when navigating.
  • t923347 532 Points
    One of the many things we do while traveling across NA is to check the accuracy of our Nuvi whenever we pass an altitude sign on the highway. Over the years I have been amazed at how similar the Nuvi's elevation readout has been to the posted altitude. We have been doing this since 2005, so I may have forgotten a few cases but I don't recall the 2 readings to have ever been different by anymore than 50 or 60 feet. Most of the time they are within 10 to 20 feet. Now I realize that if I was back country hiking or really needed an accurate altitude readout for some reason the Nuvi may not be the best source of this information but for a fairly reliable source of this kind of data, the Nuvi will do just fine, IMO.
  • privet01 228 Points
    edited June 2015
    Elevation on your GPS device or when your track is viewed on your computer or website might be derived from one of three ways.... a barometric pressure sensor contained in many Garmin devices, but typically not nuvi's (AFAIK). Or, calculated from the GPS signals (which is much less accurate than calculating your horizontal position), or derived from a database in the map or elsewhere.

    They all have their pro's and con's but it's essential when you discuss it that you and the people you discuss elevation with know what provided the elevation information.

    I generally prefer the barometric sensor, but it can easily be off 1000 feet from actual due to normal changes of atmospheric pressure. However as a tenth of an inch of change in mercury produces a hundred feet of change in elevation, it's easy to mentally apply the correction. Standard atmospheric pressure is 29.92 inHg

    But.... we are off topic again... you sticklers for such will just have to live with it! <<grin>>
  • As long as we are off on this altitude tangent, does anyone know if the current crop of nuvis use WAAS? As I recall my ancient nuvi 360 had an option to toggle WAAS on or off, but I haven't seen that option since. WAAS was developed for aviation navigation, and it's primary benefit was increased altitude accuracy. It now allows us to fly instrument approaches to within several hundred feet of the ground, using GPS altitude instead of barometric altitude (which had long been the only source of altitude when flying instrument approaches).
  • privet01 228 Points
    Good question... I've just assumed the newer units use WAAS by default. However WAAS depends you being in range of a ground station (AFAIK) to provide that critical piece of info to help with the calculations.

    And to further the off-topic stuff, does WAAS work outside North America? Used to be that the only ground stations where there/here.
  • sussamb 829 Points
    edited June 2015
    I don't believe any nuvi uses WAAS. As for outside the US in the EU we have EGNOS, which is the same and uses the same settings on handheld GPS. This is still relevant:
  • You don't need to be near a ground station. The ground stations uplink error information to several geostationary satellites, and those satellites broadcast the error information back to user GPS receivers on the ground. I believe the coverage of the WAAS geo satellites is limited to North America. I kinda recall there was a technical issue with one of the WAAS birds that resulted in poor coverage over western North America for a while, but I think that has been resolved.

    After I posted I remembered that it should be pretty easy to see if most receivers are including the WAAS information. Look at the satellite reception page and notice which number satellites are being received. I think the WAAS geo satellites are numbered above 32 in the Garmin numbering system.
  • Boyd 1999 Points
    t923347 said:

    Over the years I have been amazed at how similar the Nuvi's elevation readout has been to the posted altitude.

    It's all a question of context. An error of 100 feet on top of a 5000 foot mountain wouldn't be that big a deal. But it is really obvious where I live. Here in Southern New Jersey, the highest point in the region is less than 300 feet. So as you drive around, the Nuvi frequently shows that you're below sea level, and basically the readings you get are worthless because the whole range of elevations in the region are within the margin of error.

    But yeah, this has nothing to do with privacy. If you want to discuss elevation or WAAS, it really would be better to start a new thread.
  • DerekW 232 Points
    I know Boyd is trying to close of this navigational diversion, but as I started the digression I think I can have one bite at the cherry. My interest in elevation is purely whimsical not for calculations re the engine power expended to climb x thousand feet in y minutes.

    Seeing the elevation profile of a trip round AZ, CO and NM and seeing the bumps in the track when travelling up Mt Lemon or descending into the Salt River Canyon gives an added interest to the trip.

    Now back to privacy from the breadcrumb trail - I supposed the police could recover the Satnav from a crashed vehicle and examine the style of driving prior to the accident and use that to determine guilt.
  • privet01 228 Points
    IMO..... Surprisingly most law enforcement, the court system, and attorneys don't have the knowledge or experience to efficiently handle that, as well they really don't deal with computers very well. Again.... IMO.

    I think what the TV and movie writers would have us believe and reality are two different things.
  • Tim 1482 Points
    privet01 said:

    Surprisingly most law enforcement, the court system, and attorneys don't have the knowledge or experience to efficiently handle that

    Anecdote isn't evidence, but in my own experience I frequently get calls and emails from law enforcement and attorney's asking for help with the technical capabilities of various GPS devices.
  • rocket scientist 196 Points
    edited June 2015
    Most newer vehicles have some data recording capability these days, and that IMO is probably a bigger privacy issue than a standalone GPS. It used to be that just powertrain fault codes were stored so a mechanic could diagnose a problem, but now the data collection has gone far beyond that. I'm not sure how much, if any, the automotive data recorders are "hardened" for crash survival (similar to commercial aircraft flight data recorders), but I have read about the data stored in the car "black box" being used for accident investigation. The car owner has zero control over what data is recorded, or stored. I'm not even sure if some kind of court order or search warrant is needed for the cops to dump the recorded data if they want to.
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