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ACLU Likes 520 Tolling Plan

By Erica C. Barnett December 28, 2011

In a stark departure for the civil-liberties group (which generally opposes "Big Brother"-style government programs that track citizens' whereabouts), the American Civil Liberties Union of Washington has come out enthusiastically in favor of the tolling system on SR-520, which includes cameras that photograph the license plates of drivers who don't display an electronic tolling pass.

Starting Thursday, those who drive across the 520 bridge are supposed to have a "Good to Go" pass---an electronic transponder that automatically debits the driver's account with WSDOT. However, as of last week, only 20 percent of 520 bridge users were displaying the passes. Those who cross the bridge without a pass will have a photo of their license plate taken and get a bill in the mail. The ACLU has opposed similar systems in other states, on the grounds that states have used driver tracking data for non-tolling purposes, such as in divorce cases, where the data can be used to determine where a cheating spouse has been.

In Washington State, however, legislation passed in 2009 explicitly prohibits the state from using tolling data for any purpose other than toll collection and enforcement. In a statement today, ACLU WA privacy counsel Doug Klunder called Washington State's "the strongest toll privacy protection in the country."
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