Drivers on Rhode Island’s highways will soon have their movements tracked under the state’s RhodeWorks toll legislation, signed into law in February. While the legislation itself (H 7409A as amended, S 2246A as amended) mentions nothing about the technology authorized by this law, testimony by DOT Director Peter Alviti before the General Assembly revealed the DOT intends to use automated license plate readers (ALPRs) to track the movements of large trucks – and, though not for toll purposes, every other vehicle on Rhode Island’s highways. ALPRs are high-powered cameras that capture the license plate, date, time, and GPS location of every vehicle that passes by, even across several lanes of traffic and at speeds up to 100 miles per hour. As a result, ALPRs memorialize a comprehensive map of every car’s movements throughout the day. Despite this incredible intrusion on privacy, the law is silent to the storage or use of the data; law enforcement can store the data infinitely, access it without a warrant, and the DOT can even sell it to a third party if desired. A last-minute amendment to put some privacy protections in place was defeated on the floor. Despite assurances from House leadership that privacy protections would be put into place, if necessary, no such laws were passed before the legislature concluded its business.
Automated Toll Collection (H 7409A as amended, S 2246A as amended)