The ACLU of Rhode Island noted that the Rhode Island Department of Transportation (RIDOT) is not making good on its promise to to address “critical privacy issues raised” by the new system of toll gantries for the state’s new truck toll program. RIDOT is holding a public hearing tomorrow afternoon on proposed regulations addressing the installation of toll gantries, “but the proposal contains no provisions addressing critical privacy issues raised by the system,” says the ACLU.
In February, RIDOT offered assurances to the ACLU that it would adopt a policy addressing privacy protections, saying, “there will be a specific policy in place regarding the storage, use, and deleting of data and images captured by the tolls prior to toll commencement. The policy will include (yet to be developed) image and data information sharing restrictions.”
“It is imperative that these regulations include explicit privacy safeguards,” said Marcela Betancur, ACLU of RI policy associate. “This is a statewide network of toll gantries that has the potential to track and store vast amounts of information on all motorists. The absence of any regulatory safeguards is a significant omission.”
According to the ACLU in their testimony, “the toll system will use various technologies to detect and capture information from every motor vehicle going under the gantries, even though only certain vehicles will be assessed toll fees. This will include capturing all license plates on the highway, including front and overview images of vehicles. It will presumably include recording the date, time and GPS location of every vehicle on the road. While there is no reason for the data relating to non-commercial vehicles to be retained at all, it appears that, under the RFP, such information will be stored for certain periods of time, whether for auditing or other purposes.”
RIDOT can not rely on informal policies to address the privacy issues, said Betancur, as they would fail to provide the clarity, accountability and lawful authority of state regulations.
“It is the intent of the Rhode Island Department of Transportation (RIDOT) to have a policy in place to protect those being tolled before tolling begins, as it has always been,” said RIDOT Chief of Public Affairs Charles St Martin in answer to a query. “We share the concerns of the ACLU in this regard.
“As the ACLU states in its own press release, ‘In fact, during the RFP Process, DOT specifically indicated that there would a “specific policy in place regarding the storage, use, and deleting of data and images captured by the tolls prior to the toll commencement.”‘ It is RIDOT’s complete intention to have a policy in place well before tolling commences, as RIDOT has stated.
“If the ACLU would have a higher comfort level with the policy as an integral part of the rules and regulations, we will take that into consideration.
“We are holding a hearing to listen and to receive concerns.”
The hearing is scheduled for 2 PM tomorrow in conference room 2B of the state Department of Administration Building, 1 Capitol Hill, Providence, RI 02908.