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Legislators Consider Mandatory Tracking Chip for Your Car

(Alert for 8/3/04)

Summary: Salivating legislators are considering an Oregon scheme to mandate satellite tracking chips in all automobiles. These chips would monitor where your cars are, when you drive them, how much you drive them, and allow officials to tax you on those miles ó providing an innovative new way to steal and spend your money. Give officials a piece of your mind now (or your privacy later).


1. Oregon Bureaucrat Peddles Tracking Chip in Utah

2. Dumbing Utahns Down for "Government Growth" Schemes



1. Oregon Bureaucrat Peddles Tracking Chip in Utah

During the July 14 legislative interim meeting of the Transportation Planning Task Force, James Whitty, with the Oregon Department of Transportation, eagerly attempted to promote a scheme approved by an Oregon task force: Install Global Positioning Satellite (GPS) tracking chips in all cars.
Source: "Shrinking gas tax revenues pose problem: Legislators pondering per-mile tax as alternative," Lisa Roskelley, Ogden Standard Examiner, Jul. 28, 2004.

The chip would record and store mileage figures and interact with the gas pump to add on a mileage tax based upon whatever criteria the legislature establishes. It could also track the location of a car in real time ó and other computers could very easily use that data to track the use of that car. According to Wired News:

"A more important reason is that GPS, which can monitor exactly where a car goes within the state and at what times, eventually could be used to implement different tax rates, according to Whitty."
Source: "Driving While Intaxicated," Wired News, Jun. 3, 2003.

Oregon, particularly Portland, is held aloft as a model for socialist central planners, being on the forefront of government mass transit projects, property rights infringements designed to curtail growth, and taxation designed to prevent certain behaviors (such as driving during peak traffic hours, not planting enough government-approved shrubbery, etc.). These central planning schemes are often referred to as "smart growth" by advocates ó and "government growth" by opponents.

Local organizations such as Envision Utah and the Sierra Club attempt to promote similar schemes in Utah. Mandatory tracking chips represent an exciting new realm of opportunity for central planners who desire to monitor and control citizens.
Note: Due to runaway socialism, Oregon is undergoing a serious budget crisis. It is amazing that Mr. Whitty had the time and resources to make a trip to an interim meeting of the Utah legislature to pitch a plan that has not even been implemented in Oregon. Who paid for this trip and what elected official(s) authorized it? For more information on "government growth policies," see the Growth & Transportation section of our Other Resources page.

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2. Dumbing Utahns Down for "Government Growth" Schemes

Are legislators really considering a Big Brother scheme like this? Consider a portion of the interim meeting agenda that precipitated the discussion of the tracking chip:

"In the next 27 years, UTA (Utah Transit Authority) projects the need for $5.4 billion to fund construction of commuter rail, light rail extensions, bus rapid transit lines, and other expansion systems. In addition, $1.7 billion will be needed to fund bus and rail car replacements through the year 2030. Through the same period, long-range capital improvements needs include a reported $100 million for the Sun Tran Transit District in St. George, $90 million for the Park City Transit District, and $90 million for the Cache Valley Transit District and the Logan Transit District. What projects are in the long-range plans for transit districts? How much of the transit needs can be funded with current revenue streams? What funding sources are being considered to address these needs? Is transit funding competing with highway funding? To what extent should transit funding and highway funding be considered together or separate? How cost effective is transit service? How much of the budget do fares provide? What are the current plans, cost estimates, and time frames for the proposed commuter rail and light rail extension lines? How are these lines expected to help transportation needs in the state?" [bold added]

Notice the repeated use of the phrase "needs." Do they honestly think we will cease to exist or function without $5.4+ billion in additional rail and bus "projects"? Also notice that the prevailing tone has little to do with whether these types of projects should be funded at all ó or whether taxpayer dollars should be funneled through a pseudo-governmental organization like the Utah Department of Transporation (UDOT).

The agenda is strangely silent on legitimate transportation questions, such as: Why canít legislators, who pretend to respect freedom, eliminate onerous regulations that prevent private, non-subsidized bus and taxi businesses from being able to fairly compete with UDOT ó thereby reducing traffic congestion and the need for more government "projects"?

Crash course in Bureaucracy 101: Transportation officials donít come down from Oregon and become the centerpiece in Utah legislative hearings just for fun. UDOT and "government growth" advocates are attempting to lay the groundwork to destroy privacy, increase taxes, and weaken freedom. This hearing is a test balloon for these and other projects.

Consider that, in 1997, citizens resoundingly defeated a proposal to insert "smart card" chips (House Bill 244) in Utah drivers licenses that could contain personal information. Bureaucrats, under the direction of the Governor, flagrantly defied the will of the people and recently inserted these chips in drivers licenses.

Imagine a future where these same bureaucrats can obtain access to information about where, when, and how fast you drive. If you speed, or take a wrong turn into a restricted area in a national forest, will you receive a ticket in the mail with a satellite photo of your vehicle? And if government can track your movement by car, why canít bicycles or even individuals be tracked in this manner?

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We therefore recommend the following actions:

1. Call (and, if possible, fax and email) the following officials:

Please inform us of any responses you receive at info@accountabilityutah.org.  Give officials a piece of your mind now (or your privacy later).

2. Forward this message to your family, friends, and any activists you know. Encourage them to voice their concerns and get involved.

3. Volunteer to help flier the districts of tax-and-spend officials as required by e-mailing us at info@accountabilityutah.org.

4. Monitor this site for new and updated information and join our alert list by e-mailing us at info@accountabilityutah.org.

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Accountability Utah recipe: Take our information and opinion, research their information and opinion (if it is available), and then examine the law and draw your own conclusions. For more information on similar issues, see the Taxes & Spending section of our Issues & Alerts page.

If you have comments or suggestions, please email us at info@accountabilityutah.org.


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