FasTrak (automatic toll collection) = Big Brother?

GJW

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In CA they have a system called FasTrak that deducts tolls from a pre-paid account set up by the user.
The user carries a small transponder in their car that communicates with a receiver at the the toll booth.
No more stopping to roll down the window.
I've even heard that some drive-thrus are allowing drivers to pay for fast food this way.

All-in-all its been very convenient but I just received notice that they're going to be installing more receivers along the freeways in order to collect data on driving and traffic patterns.
The stated goal is to allow the public to call in to the system and receive real-time traffic info and even accurate travel times from point A to point B.

For those not wishing to participate they're making little mylar bags available. The idea is to keep the transponder in the bag when not going through the toll-booth so that the highway receivers will be unable to read it.

They swear that the additional data collected is completely anonomous and will not be used to target individuals but what do you all think about this?
 

Flashlightboy

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GJW,

I'm a FasTrak user that used to work next door to the company HQ in Anaheim Hills.

FasTrak was a private undertaking. The project was funded by private money although the toll road was attached to an existing freeway. For 25 years the private company would receive the tolls and at the end of that time Fastrak would be turned over to Orange County as their property.

Being a regular road warrier, the freeway between Orange and Riverside Counties is the most congested one in the region. There are no others that are this bad. Accordingly, if a commuter had a FasTrak account they enter in Riverside County and exit in Orange County. There are no exits along the 13 mile route. It may cut an hour off your commute. The transponder beeps when you travel under the unit that charges your credit card. This is not big brother because the government is not involved.

The fast food idea was a tester to see if those drivers who used FasTrak would also like to avail themselves of hassle free purchases. It was not a widespread idea and I believe that it was dropped. It didn't succeed because they didn't have enough users at restaurants and there was also a theft issue. The theft issue was somewhat akin to someone stealing your Mobil Speedpass wand and using it fraudulently.

I'm a little confused by your comment that they are going to install more receivers. Who is going to install them? And who is giving away Mylar bags? I'm asking because it seems rather impossible to access FasTrak, put the cover on while passing receivers, take it off at the FasTrak reader all while driving at 70 mph. Additionally, the attachment points for the transponder make it very difficult to access while driving. The preferred locations are the lower left corner of the windshield or behind the rear view mirror. It's mounted with velcro on to the windshield itself. I don't see how someone would have time to fiddle with a bag and drive.

Maybe I haven't received my notice in the mail or perhaps I need a little more info to better understand the issue.
 

dano

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In the Bay ARea, FASTRAK is controlled by CALTRANS. CALTRANS is installing more receivers along certain freeways to monitoe traffic flow. The Mylar bags are being sent to subscribers by CALTRANS.

I just leave mine in my glove box, and hold it upto the windshield, then put it back in the glovebox, not a big deal...

--dan
 

Flashlightboy

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In the LA area the FasTrak is neither run by nor controlled by Caltrans. There are other toll roads in Orange County that also use the same transponder by agreement with the Orange County Transportation Authority. I'm not sure that Caltrans maintains these roads but I think that the county does.

Interesting idea of selling user info by default. I'd think that the transponder owners would be automatically opted out unless they overtly opted in.
 

dano

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Actually, I just got a letter and my little baggie in the mail. According to the letter, the transponders are going to be monitored, so the MTC (Metro Transportation Commission) and CALTRANS can feed the info to the new 511 System (called on cellphones for traffic, weather, etc) and provide real time traffic times, destination times on certain freeways, etc...

Also, it says that data will not be collected, auto locations and driving patterns will not be collected, etc...

More info is here, i think: 511

--dan
 

GJW

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[ QUOTE ]
dano said:
Also, it says that data will not be collected, auto locations and driving patterns will not be collected, etc...


[/ QUOTE ]

Huh?
It specifially says that it will be collected -- anonomized (is that a word?) -- and collected.
Your transponder won't even beep to let you know that you've been scanned.
 

T-Rex

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Re: FasTrak (automatic toll collection) = Big Brot

If you don't want Big Brother to record your presence, remove the transponder from the windshield when it's not required for the toll gantries. My transponder is not permanently mounted since I use 2 vehicles.

I have left the transponder in both the door pocket, and the lower dash storage area while traveling through the FasTrak gantries. My transponders will not be activated when left in these areas. Normally I will throw the transponder onto the dash for a couple of seconds as I traverse through a toll plaza.

The transponders are rather sensitive to your vehicle's lane position. Drive within 6 inches of the left side lane marker, and a transponder residing on the dashboard to the driver's left will not be activated.

IMO mylar bags are a huge PITA.

As I see it, you're already being tracked through your toll account. If you are afraid of any agency tracking you, close your toll account. (and your credit cards, and ATM, move to Wyoming, get paid in cash, stop surfing...)

If you want to experience big brother in action, try living in Singapore.
 

GJW

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Re: FasTrak (automatic toll collection) = Big Brot

[ QUOTE ]
T-Rex said:
If you don't want Big Brother to record your presence, remove the transponder from the windshield when it's not required for the toll gantries.

[/ QUOTE ]

My transponder was detected while inside my glovebox.
I was very surprised.
 

Quickbeam

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Re: FasTrak (automatic toll collection) = Big Brot

NY has something similar called "SpeedPass" (sorry, I think it's EZPass, not SpeedPass). Works great on the thruways. Most folks velcro'ed it to the windshield above the mirror (as recommended). I saw people all the time hold the speedpass against the windshield as they went through the toll lane and put it down again.

We got mylar bags as well. If you didn't want to use it, just stuff it in the mylar bag and go through and pay in cash. Dump it out of the bag and hold it up against the windshield to use it. It's not that much of a pain.

But yes, you'd get a report at the end of the month with the tolls and exits you took and the exact time of entry and exit from the highway. If you think about it, if you were speeding, the Thruway Authority would know based on your entry/exit times and distance traveled between the entry point and exit point...
 

PlayboyJoeShmoe

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Re: FasTrak (automatic toll collection) = Big Brot

We have "EZ Tags" here in the Houston Area. I see stuff all the time that I would SWEAR is Big Bro, but my ET is up behind my Rearview and I don't care if they know where I am!

The really great thing about EZ Tag is, I pay less at the toll plaza AND don't have to stop! A Plaza is $1.00 for a car or light truck. Tag gets charged .75. SWEET!
 

eluminator

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[ QUOTE ]
dano said:
Also, it says that data will not be collected, auto locations and driving patterns will not be collected, etc...

--dan

[/ QUOTE ]

That's meaningless. Of course they will use it. Maybe not now or in this decade but they will eventually. That may be okay, and if the public objected strongly they wouldn't, but I guarantee that statement is meaningless.

It will be easy to start using it. There will be a killer on the loose, maybe a kidnapper. The FBI will be called in. They will tap into this thing. The suspect will be caught. The public will be ecstatically happy. And we will be in the gummint's database one more time.

It's as predictable as a broken record. Is it good or bad? I don't know, but it's as sure as death and taxes. The gummint keeps getting bigger, or to put it another way, our freedom keeps shrinking.

Yeah I know it's government, but the guys I work with call it gummint, and I like it.

Franklin Roosevelt promised that the Social Security card would never become a national ID card, it would only be used for Social Security. I am old enough to have a SS card that states plainly "Not for identification purposes". But I can't open a bank account without it.

This may be okay (I don't like it), but the point is, whatever the government promises you is meaningless. What are we going to do? Dig up FDR from the grave and hang him?
 

tsg68

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Re: A different Privacy Concern - RFID

I think that EZ-Pass toll information in NYC has already been used in evidence for prosecuting attorneys to help them establish the presence of a suspect's vehicle within a crime area. Also Metro Card subway toll information has been used to help prosecute criminals here and they just eliminated tokens completely from the fare options so my buddies who are paranoid about Big Brother are a-freakin' out.

TSG /ubbthreads/images/graemlins/grin.gif
 

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