Diary

Stop 24/7 GPS Tracking of Your Car

A number of states are preparing to pull the trigger on tracking your car by GPS. 24/7. Oregon is the furthest towards mandatory application.

The Obama Administration’s Department of Transportation is also pushing the concept, as are various interests in industry who either would profit from or collect data from the implementation. The anti-private-auto activists would find the trackers useful to enable the technology to charge you variable amounts depending on where and why and how you drive.

The reason, or excuse, for such GPS tracking is to calculate gas tax based on how many miles you drive to allow owners of electric, hybrids and high efficiency vehicles to pay their fair share of road upkeep.

This scheme is extremely dangerous to our liberties, and must be killed everywhere it rears its head.

For starts, you do not want to trust the government to track your travels at all. Such data is not likely to be confined to the very narrow purpose of calculating taxes and then be deleted, but it may eventually be stored in giant ObamaCare-like databases available to agencies, courts, police, insurance companies, and anyone with the logon to the system. It would be a hacker’s and stalker’s dream.

Social engineers will be eager to make your GPS tax a highly variable toll for an unlimited array of left-wing causes.  Penalizing or forbidding single-occupancy driving. Penalizing the use of certain roads at certain times. Penalizing where you go. Easily erecting Europe-like ‘congestion fees’ or enforcing ‘no-car’ zones. Rewarding politically-correct destinations and driving habits. If you make a sudden swerve to avoid a tuned-out pedestrian, you might get branded as a reckless driver, and your fees might be increased as a result and get reported to your insurance company. The opportunities are as unlimited as an anti-auto social engineer’s fevered imagination.

Then there’s unlimited opportunities for tickets and fines. Armed with GPS data, governments could easily zap you with speeding tickets every single time you exceed the speed limit or roll a stop sign. They can be used for hyper-automated parking tickets. Because such systems would likely be tied into your bank account, you would become an instant cash cow for the worst type of over-enforcement.

Regardless of any safeguards enacted in implementing such schemes, the Left has a long-range view of things. Two steps forward and one step back. Any initial safeguards could be gradually eroded over the years by regulators, executive actions, lawmakers and courts; making promises of data security and forbidding abuse of GPS tracking mere speedbumps on a road we would not otherwise have voluntarily entered.

Being required to have these devices in your car is tantamount to being forced to incriminate yourself for traffic violations, perhaps in violation of the fifth Amendment.

Ranking below the myriad of privacy angles is the cost factor of buying and installing the device. The scheme also takes tax compliance from thousands of gas stations to each and every single motorist. Would the IRS end up being the enforcer and collector, as with ObamaCare? Drivers would likely be required to have a bank account and online gas tax account, which adds additional hacking vulnerabilities as well as being a significant hardship on the poor, many of whom do not have bank accounts.

There is a solution. Pre-emptively outlaw replacing the gas tax with any form of tracking your vehicle.  This must be done at both Federal and state levels.

Congressman Stockman's "Don't Track Me Act" to outlaw a GPS gas tax.
Congressman Stockman’s “Don’t Track Me Act” to outlaw a GPS gas tax.

Serving as Congressman Stockman’s Legislative Director, I drafted H.R. 5884, the “Don’t Track Me Act,” which would prohibit on the Federal level the replacement of the gas tax with any form of vehicle tracking, whether based on GPS or other technology, and I also introduced the H.R. 5755, the “Safer Streets Act” to outlaw red light and radar camera enforcement.

The Don’t Track Me Act would also prohibit a wide array of other vehicle and identity tracking, such as receivers alongside the road which could capture data from your vehicle, and it would prevent ‘black box’ accident recorders from storing data for more than the last five minutes of vehicle operation and outlaw recording voice or video.

Nothing in the bill would prevent vehicle owners from voluntarily installing GPS trackers for fleet monitoring, or for checking on your kid’s driving. I would caution that insurance companies are hopping onboard the tracking bandwagon by offering discounts for placing a tracker onboard. Voluntary today, but expect insurance companies will eventually require these and reap great rewards from higher rates.

There are far less intrusive methods to raise the funds needed to properly maintain and build the roads we use, and to get a better apportionment from owners of electric and hybrids.

To kill this scheme, we need similar bills enacted in each state, and to reintroduce and pass the “Don’t Track Me Act” in this Congress. To drive the stake through the heart of the tracking vampire so it never again rises, we must engage the public on why such schemes are a dangerous and irreversible encroachment on our liberties.

Here’s the Library of Congress’ summary of the “Don’t Track Me Act:”
https://www.congress.gov/bill/113th-congress/house-bill/5884
Here’s the text of the bill:
https://www.congress.gov/113/bills/hr5884/BILLS-113hr5884ih.xml

The Safer Streets Act:
https://www.congress.gov/bill/113th-congress/house-bill/5755/text 

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Read More Red State Articles by Art Harman

Art Harman is a automotive transportation expert and advocate who co-founded the (former) non-profit advocacy organization, “Heave HOV” years ago to combat HOV lanes in court. He opposes increasing privacy intrusions into your car, the anti-privately-owned auto agenda of the left wing, and warns of the possibility of autonomous vehicles being hacked and weaponized.

Mr. Harman is the Director of the Coalition to Save Manned Space Exploration, which supports a return to the moon in the 2020s and expeditions to Mars in the 2030s. He was the Legislative Director and foreign policy advisor for Rep. Stockman (R-Texas) in the 113th Congress, and is a veteran policy analyst and grass-roots political expert. His expertise includes foreign relations, border security/amnesty, national security, transportation, foreign broadcasting and NASA/space policy.

Mr. Harman developed the strategy to kill the 2013 Senate “gang of eight” amnesty bill as violating the Origination Clause, and provided policy advice to the Trump campaign, transition. and White House. He wrote what became the ‘bible’ of post-Brexit trade relations which was introduced in 2016 by Sen. Mike Lee as S. 3123, the United Kingdom Trade Continuity Act. Harman is a frequent guest on radio shows on key policy issues, and is an expert photographer.