Privacy and Parking

In Milwaukee, a new system for parking enforcement has raised concern in residents.Now, parking permits will be issued a permit number that will be electronically linked to their license plate. City vehicles equipped with cameras will drive through streets checking license plates and confirming permit or non-permit status.

“The computer in the enforcement Jeep will beep if someone’s vehicle does not have a valid night parking permit or if the vehicle was reported stolen or if someone is a scofflaw or if someone is parked in excess of the posted time limits,” says Sandy Rusch Walton, a Department of Public Works spokeswoman. “The officer will then issue the parking citation after manually checking the license plate.”

So what if it’s an illusion that any of us has any real privacy anymore, officials who put this system in place have reassured Milwaukeeans that their personal data will be protected with a cascading list of procedures and safeguards.

“After the shift, the captured license numbers will be limited to access only by parking enforcement management staff on the city server,” Rusch Walton said. “No one else will have access to that information.”

It’s great that  the city is doing all it can to respect personal data. Every effort should be made to support the notion of confidentiality and keep important information from making its way into the hands of unscrupulous individuals. But if you’re really concerned about privacy, stay home. That’s the only place you can have a reasonable expectation of privacy, unless you have teenagers.

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