In about a month, traffic
sensors being installed along San Francisco Bay area highways
will enable travelers to gain real-time information about road
congestion via cell phone, radio or Internet, AP reports.
Proponents say the $37
million addition to the region's FasTrak electronic toll system
is a good thing, but the "enhancement" is raising fears
that drivers' privacy will be invaded.
Under the system, radio-based
sensors are being mounted on highway signs every few miles - and
monitoring is not optional for FasTrak users. The only way to
avoid triggering the sensors throughout nine Bay Area counties
is to stash the transponder in its accompanying Mylar bag.
Meanwhile, court cases
where transponder data has been used are adding to privacy concerns.
In 1997, E-ZPass records
helped show what kidnappers did to New Jersey restaurant millionaire
Nelson Gross, whose BMW crossed the George Washington Bridge into
Manhattan, where his beaten corpse was found.
Another case involved a
Connecticut rental car company that charged customers $150 each
time a GPS receiver showed they were speeding. The company has
since stopped the practice.