By Kerry Picket
Those convenient toll-paying tags on your windshield may be coughing up more information than drivers realize. According to the New York Civil Liberties Union, the state’s E-ZPass tollbooth transponders also transmit location information about drivers to areas all over New York City, despite the absence of toll plazas.
The NYCLU confirmed the pass tags were transmitting the information by installing a device in a car that would make a sound anytime it detected a signal that used the same frequency as the E-ZPass. According to the NYCLU, the sound went off all over Midtown and lower Manhattan.
“Though we weren’t at any toll plazas, something was reading the E-ZPass tag in our car,” the group stated.
Collecting driver information through E-ZPass scanners has been done before, Staten Island Live reports, and the NYC Department of Transportation confirms it anonymously collects data from drivers, as one can see from the real time information on the DOT website.
“DOT takes our responsibility to protect privacy seriously and these readers are only used to gather traffic information so that we can improve mobility in the city. The data does not have identifying information for an individual,” DOT spokeswoman Bonny Tsang told Staten Island Live.
In the meantime, the NYCLU has filed New York Freedom of Information Law requests to see why so many E-Z pass readers are in areas not associated with a toll booth.