04 April 2012

Lapsed Insurance Could Be Detected in Connecticut Via RFID Tags in License Plates

by Rebecca Kelley, Posted in News

Lapsed Insurance Could Be Detected in Connecticut Via RFID Tags in License Plates

Connecticut legislators approved a bill that would test the usage of RFID (radio frequency identification) tags in license plates to track vehicles and automatically generate tickets to drivers with expired vehicle registration, emission, or car insurance.  Lobbyists for the experimental program estimate that the ability to better detect and issue fines will result in an extra $29 million per year for the state. 

Privacy advocates are understandably upset with the idea of being tracked electronically, especially considering Connecticut's also known as "The Constitution State." Supporters of the program counter that 1 in 10 drivers in the state is uninsured (as of 2009 data), and the RFID tags would better identify them and fine them, thus protecting other drivers as well as ensuring that the state is collecting the proper amount in fines each year.

Robert Smith, a privacy expert, argues that the tags could be abused by people who are looking to stalk someone or find out a person's private information. The ACLU also issued a statement expressing their disapproval of the idea:

Using RFID technology to track the movements of drivers and their cars is so incredibly invasive that we don't see how it could fail to violate the right to privacy. The chips broadcast individually identifiable information to anyone with a receiver, and the potential for abuse, by the government or by private industry, is staggering.

Indeed, many critics feel that compromising one's privacy isn't worth a few extra million dollars in revenue for the state. It'll be interesting to see how long the program lasts and whether it'll become a permanent fixture among Connectict drivers or if legislators abandon the idea after pressure from privacy advocates and outraged drivers who feel as if the program is too invasive.

photo credit: copepodo via photopin cc