Sep 112012
 
 September 11, 2012  Govt

From the same state that is chipping kids while complaining about smart meters, there is a new parking plan that raises serious privacy concerns. Whitney Hodgin reports on the Galveston plan. Here’s the part of her report that raised @Privacyactivism’s eyebrows and mine:

Seawall businesses that choose to participate can choose to include a kiosk that allows visitors to complete the same process, as well as pay cash, or store employees can enter the customers’ information online themselves.

Parking will cost $1 per hour for up to 8 hours. Unlike downtown public parking, there will be no kiosks involved — just a phone and a credit card — because visitors will register their license plate numbers and pay for parking exclusively on a website.

“That’s the only option you have — to enter your license number,” Maxwell said.

Four Galveston police cruisers will be outfitted with Automatic License Plate Recognition equipment similar to the technology used to identify license plates on interstate highways, and can read plates even if the vehicles are parked end-to-end, Maxwell said.

In addition to determining the parking status of each vehicle on the Seawall, police will also use the Automatic License Plate Recognition technology to see if there is an outstanding warrant on a vehicle, if the vehicle is stolen or an Amber Alert connected to the owner, he said.

Police will use the same approach to ensure that seawall visitors don’t beat the system by parking for free in adjacent neighborhoods, Maxwell said.

“What makes this system really great for neighborhood enforcement is that residents will register their license plates and the plates of their guests,” so police can identify and fine vehicles that do not belong, he said.

Wow. Talk about Big Brother. So even if you’re not using the parking but just live in the neighborhood, the police will have your license plate number and your guests’ license plate numbers? For how long will they retain these data? Can they be used as evidence in criminal prosecutions? What if a resident doesn’t want to provide their guests’ info? Will the guests then be ticketed even if they’re there legitimately?

And entering credit cards on a web site? What could possibly go wrong there?

*Sigh.*

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