Surveillance

Tollbooths Track Everybody Crossing Golden Gate Bridge

They know where you've been

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Yesterday, the Golden Gate Bridge switched to all-electronic tolling. As of March 27, drivers entering San Francisco no longer have the option to pay the $6 cash toll to a human toll collector. Unfortunately, all of the bridge's electronic payment options track the identities of those paying the toll, and all represent a loss of privacy for visitors or commuters entering San Francisco by car. The current implementation of electronic tolling here (and elsewhere) is unnecessarily privacy-invasive and represents a missed opportunity to collect tolls electronically in more privacy-friendly ways.

Since March 27, motorists entering San Francisco have three different payment options. One option involves recognizing an RFID token in the motorist's vehicle, while the remaining two use a camera to photograph and recognize the license plate. (A cute new animation from the bridge operator explains the options, though not their privacy consequences.)