I saw this report on KXAN last night about the cameras on the new toll roads in Austin. KXAN seems to have picked up on what Sal Costello started on Monday, Austin Tollers Secretly Tracking The Public. Sal has an exhaustive report on this.
But what most people think is a system for tracking toll violators is actually taking a picture of everyone who drives the road, right now, for free:
Citizens have been offered to “try out” the new toll roads “for free”, but they’ve not been informed that they are being tracked. We donâ€™t know how long the data will be archived, if the information is shared with other government agencies, or if the database is being sold to the highest bidder.[...]
IMPORTANT NOTE: The government has yet to establish any laws, guidelines or privacy policies on collection of this type of data.
This is without the TxTag and I’m sure if you buy that you agree (PDF, #13) to be tracked and have you information sold. But my point in bringing this up is not conspiracy stuff – we’re being tracked without knowing. I believe if the government or a corporation wants to target/market you they can find out all about you in a heartbeat already. Why I bring this up is the blatant BS that Gabriela Garcia was spewing on KXAN last night (transcript).
First here’s what the image review clerk said about what’s being done with the images:
We found one of the people who was hired to do this work. He didn’t want his identity revealed. He told us his quota was 4,000 license plates entered into the database everyday. It seemed high so he asked his supervisor.
“She said, ‘Well no, we’re not doing violations right now. We’re basically entering in all the data from everybody traveling the new toll roads.” Which sort of threw me back because at that point I thought I was going to be handling violations,” the image review clerk said.
Well of course there not doing violations, the roads a FREE at this time. Then why is this being done? Here’s where Ms. Garcia comes in.
To get to the bottom of it, we went right to the source and talked to Gabriela Garcia at the Toll Road Authority. She says because the tolls are not being collected yet, the equipment is simply being tested. The photographs will be used to enforce people who blow through the toll booths without paying.
“There could be some of that going on now. I’m not sure how much of that’s happening on which roads and how many of the vehicles are actually being photographed. It’s not being sold to anybody or anybody else for any other purpose other than toll enforcement purposes only,” Garcia said.
Garcia told KXAN in a second interview that any photographs taken and information gathered on people that are not violating the tolls will be deleted, and no records will be kept.
That – cameras taking pictures of drivers – could be happening? She doesn’t know how many vehicles are actually being photographed? She doesn’t know for sure if this is happening, even though an employee just said it was? She doesn’t know any of that but she damn sure knows that the information isn’t being sold and calls back to say it will all be deleted. Huh? What’s the point of hiring 57 people to enter 4,000 license plate images a day into a database if you’re just going to throw it all away? It’s not the tracking it’s the lying about it that I have a problem with.