The Need for Speed (and Privacy)

I recently wrote this post about how transponder records are being used in divorce cases. I have also long assumed that when needed the police could access transponder records to investigate crimes and use as evidence in criminal trials.

Then a disturbing thought came to me. What is to prevent your transponder records from being used to automatically issue speeding citations? The system could be programmed to calculate the average speed it took to go between any two toll booths. If the average speed was above the posted limit, you would have to have been going at least that fast at some point and technically a speeding citation could be automatically issued. This is similar to “red-light cameras” that are being used in many cities today, only easier implement because no additional hardware needs to be installed.

While this is a disturbing notion, there are three things that lead me to believe that this will never be implemented. The first reason is that it would be hugely unpopular. While red-light camera systems may be unpopular with some people, most see running red-lights as a truly deplorable practice. More importantly they see it as a threat to their own personal safety. Very few Americans intentionally run red lights. By contrast most Americans see speed limits as more of a guideline that a rule.

The second reason is that I believe that it is merely a matter of time before red-light cameras themselves are ruled unconstitutional in this country. The reason for this is that the camera can only determine that the car ran the red light, but traffic citations are made against the driver. Using transponder records for issuing speeding citations would run into the same issue.

The third reason is that the toll road operating companies would fight the use of their transponder records. They would not do this for any desire to protect the driver’s privacy, but to protect the roads profitability. Anything that caused drivers to stop taking the toll road, or stop using a transponder would threaten the profitability of the toll operating companies. They would lobby hard to prevent it.

(Mirrored from TalkBMC)

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