As town officials mull the pros and cons of buying (which are already in use in other Fairfield County towns), the Connecticut state legislature is reportedly mulling an even more “Big Brother-ish” proposal: Putting RFID tags into license plates.
Using RFID technology, law enforcement and state agencies would be able to track the whereabouts of literally every registered vehicle in the state at any given moment. What’s more, officials would be able to access historical data showing where every vehicle has been, starting from when the RFID chips installed.
According to a report in The Newspaper.com, the state Senate Transportation Committee last Wednesday voted unanimously to support Senate Bill 288 (see attached PDF), which was introduced in the legislature following aggressive lobbying by representatives of the Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) industry.
But, just like the proposal to install license plate readers in police squad cars, the proposal has raised the eyebrows of some lawmakers who are concerned about the impact on privacy.
“Implanting the chips on license plates would enable real-time monitoring of all vehicles by positioning tracking stations at key points throughout the state,” the report states. “The main interest behind the bill is to generate automated ticket for drivers whose vehicle registration, emissions or insurance certification may have lapsed for a day or two.”
According to the report, former astronaut Paul Scully-Power, who first brought the idea to the attention of CT lawmakers, “stands to profit significantly should the technology be adapted at the state level, as he is the former CEO of Mikoh Corporation and SensorConnect Inc., both of which sell RFID solutions.”
Scully-Power reportedly testified (see attached PDF) that, providing the technology is adopted and utilized, the state could collect up to $29,619,500 per year in fines and fees compared to the current annual average of about $594,000.
Meanwhile a similar, federal law requiring states to install RFID tags into new driver’s licenses for the same purpose (under the REAL ID Act of 2005) has reportedly come under sharp fire by some Michigan lawmakers.
According to another report in The Newspaper.com, US Representative Justin Amash earlier this month wrote Department of Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano urging her to undo her 2009 regulatory mandate that states install RFID chips in new "enhanced" licenses, saying the chips “would give public and private entities an unprecedented ability to track Americans.”