Flashback: Infrastructure Bill Could Enable Government to Track Drivers’ Travel Data

THE SENATE’S $1.2 TRILLION bipartisan infrastructure bill proposes a national test program that would allow the government to collect drivers’ data in order to charge them per-mile travel fees. The new revenue would help finance the Highway Trust Fund, which currently depends mostly on fuel taxes to support roads and mass transit across the country.

Under the proposal, the government would collect information about the miles that drivers travel from smartphone apps, another on-board device, automakers, insurance companies, gas stations, or other means. For now, the initiative would only be a test effort — the government would solicit volunteers who drive commercial and passenger vehicles — but the idea still raises concerns about the government tracking people’s private data.

“It’s concerning to see the advancement of a plan that appears to depend on the government’s mass surveillance of vehicles’ location simply to function,” said Sean Vitka, policy counsel at Demand Progress.

Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., a well-known critic of surveillance, favors a type of program that may periodically read mileage but wouldn’t track drivers’ locations.

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