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TALKING TRANSPORT: Will you have any privacy while traveling this summer?

By Jim Cameron

Ready for a summer vacation? Car full, plane tickets at hand? You may not realize it, but Big Brother is coming with you. However you travel, don’t expect to have much privacy.

BY CAR: I’ve been writing for years about how E-ZPass tracks your trip, not just your tolls. And those new portals built in Manhattan for congestion pricing that are now on hold? I assume they are still activated, if no fees are collected.

What about those new super LPRs (License Plate Readers) that the NY-NJ Port Authority has installed on all bridges to and from Staten Island? They track every single vehicle, storing the data for who knows how long. The NYPD says they’ve already seen a 30% reduction in the number of cars stolen from that outer part of the city, so expect this technology to come to other bridges and tunnels in New York.

Several Connecticut cities are also installing permanent LPRs at their borders to track stolen vehicles. The information about your comings and goings will also be retained.

There are cameras everywhere on Connecticut’s freeways and highways. You can even watch them online. Red light and speed cameras are now coming to Connecticut. And in some cities they are experimenting with stop sign cameras.

Your car also tracks how you drive and shares that data with insurance companies. The computers in your motorcycle (and the apps on your phone) collect a lot of information about your acceleration and braking and they ‘sell’ this data to insurance companies without your knowledge.

BY TRAIN AND METRO: Metro-North may not have WiFi, but they do have cameras recording in every car, while many cities also have cameras on every train platform. And soon, every subway and station in NYC will be equipped similarly. If they used facial recognition software, authorities could track the identity and whereabouts of everyone in the system, just as they do in China.

Swipe a MetroCard or use OMNY to travel on the subway? There is also a report of that. And with the MTA losing $800 million in fare evasion, will it take long before AI starts identifying the mocking laws?

ON FOOT/BICYCLE: In New York City, there are 18,000 CCTV cameras almost everywhere. Have you ever noticed how quickly police can post videos of street crime, almost anytime, anywhere? You are being watched.

BY AIRPLANE: Your airline and the TSA require you to provide valid identification every time you fly. And now some airlines are using facial recognition software instead of boarding passes to climb aboard. ICE (Immigration & Customs Enforcement) also uses that software when you enter the country. And your passport… did you know that there is an RFID chip in the cover? What information is stored there?

In most European countries, residents are required to carry a government-issued ID card at all times and to present it upon request by authorities. Skeptics have always said that such surveillance would never come to the US, but is the technology I described above any different? It’s even better to confirm not only your identity but also your exact location on a minute-by-minute basis.

Good trip.

JIM CAMERON has lived in Darien for more than 30 years. He is a member of Darien RTM and is program director of Darien TV79. He served on the CT Metro-North Rail Commuter Council for 19 years, including four years as chairman. In 2014, he founded a new advocacy group, The Commuter Action Group, to advocate for Metro-North riders. His newspaper column “Talking Transportation” appears in several newspapers and in the Greenwich Free Press. Archives can be found at www.talkingtransportation.blogspot.com

You can contact Jim at (email protected)