Friday, February 20, 2009

Move all the chips to the middle of the table...and leave them there

One more note on the Governor's tax plans (unfortunately, I'm sure this won't be the last)...the plan to place transponder chips in inspection stickers in an effort to tax Massachusetts drivers by the mile is ripe for abuse. It should be rejected out of hand by the Legislature. From the AP, via the Telegram & Gazette:
BOSTON — The vision of Gov. Deval L. Patrick using a computer to monitor the grocery-store trips of Massachusetts residents has touched off a wave of protest against the idea of using GPS chips to charge drivers for the mileage they put on state roads.

“It’s outrageous, it’s kind of Orwellian, Big Brotherish,” said Sen. Scott Brown, R-Wrentham, who drafted legislation last week to prohibit the practice. “You’d need a whole new department of cronies just to keep track of it.”
The article goes on to explain that in a test of the technology in Oregon “the receiver was not linked to a map, the DOT had no idea where the miles were driven — only that they were on Oregon roads.”

Leaving aside for a minute that Scott Brown proves why he is a classically inept Massachusetts Republican by taking a legitimate point about privacy concerns and stomping all over it with some irrelevance about cronies and bureaucracy, he’s right to oppose it. Just because the system isn’t currently used to track a driver’s movements doesn’t mean that it couldn’t be used that way. What’s to keep some governor or law enforcement type in the future from linking the information to a mapping system? The problem with this type of technology isn’t necessarily they way it will be used when it is rolled out, but the way it could be abused somewhere down the road. Hopefully, the chip ends up going nowhere.

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