Driving may put toll on privacy

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution features a nice article that pieces together many of the privacy concerns with new transportation technologies – a central focus of much of my research. The article notes the desire to use GPS to track vehicle movements to facilitate assessing mileage taxes, vehicle-to-vehicle communication technologies to improve safety and the already ubiquitous use of RFID technology for automated tolling.

The piece introduces new research – “the adaptation of defense technology” – to automatically count the number of people in a vehicle so road authorities can charge variable tolls based on vehicle occupancy. These new methods include counting heartbeats, listening for and distinguishing breath signs, sensing different levels of body heat, sensing human skin moisture levels, or (and I’m not sure how this would be implemented) reading passenger fingerprints.

Reaching into the car and searching the passengers in such manners introduce significant shifts in the norms of personal information flow in the context of highway travel, and steps must be taken to ensure these new technologies are designed in value-conscious ways. Santa Clara University law professor Dorothy Glancy agrees:

You can make data anonymous by policy and it’s just a matter of time before policy breaks down. You have to engineer [privacy] into the system.

[via Pogo Was Right]

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