FC: New Zealand minister wants to implant new cars with tracking chips

From: Declan McCullagh (declanat_private)
Date: Mon Sep 08 2003 - 22:18:17 PDT

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    See Oregon's benighted plan:
    Date: Tue, 9 Sep 2003 10:38:13 +1000
    From: Moz <listsat_private>
    To: declanat_private
    Subject: (New Zealand) Motorists face travel tax and 'Big Brother' 
    microchip law enforcement
    Hi Declan, welcome back.
    Note the quote towards the end "I think in the very long term all new
    cars will come out with some electronic identifier."
    Motorists face travel tax and 'Big Brother' microchip law enforcement
    07 September 2003
    Motorists face being taxed on how far they travel under government plans to 
    generate cash.
    Transport Minister Paul Swain said with vehicles becoming more fuel 
    efficient, revenue from petrol tax would
    drop and alternative charges needed to be considered.
    It is one of a number of transport schemes being looked at by officials, 
    including a Big Brother-style
    project to equip every car with a personalised microchip so law-breaking 
    motorists can be prosecuted by
    Petrol excise made up $462 million of the national roads fund in 2001-02 
    but Swain fears the amount from
    fuel taxes could start stalling.
    He said taxing motorists based on the distance they covered would help fund 
    roading improvements and the
    charges would come on top of any road tolling or congestion fees.
    "In the long run we are going to have to shift from a system of paying 
    taxes on energy (petrol) to one based
    on distance, similar to road-user charges," said Swain. "Because car 
    engines are getting more and more
    efficient the ability to tax the energy becomes less and less."
    At the same time, police and transport officials are looking at 
    "spy-chips", which automatically report
    speeding, illegal parking, and vehicles that are unregistered or without a 
    warrant of fitness certificate.
    Guilty drivers would learn they had been caught breaking the law only when 
    a fine or summons arrived in the
    Officials are watching the development of an electronic vehicle 
    identification (EVI) programme in Europe
    before deciding if it can be applied in New Zealand.
    The scheme has sparked concerns from civil liberties experts as vehicles 
    could seemingly be monitored
    wherever they travelled.
    Civil rights lawyer Tim McBride feared the scheme could lead to an invasion 
    of privacy.
    "There are some obvious public benefits but we should not give it any 
    serious consideration without a
    thorough public consultation process."
    Under the programme, roadside sensors read a car's microchip and that 
    information goes to a central computer
    system to check the car is legal. Those breaking the law are penalised.
    Swain said any introduction of the scheme would be some years away with 
    other technological advances,
    including electronic tolling, a higher priority.
    "I think in the very long term all new cars will come out with some 
    electronic identifier.
    "That will be there as a security mechanism as well as providing 
    information about the vehicle and I think a
    lot of this type of technology will evolve through new car manufacturers."
    Police could benefit from EVI with computers handling the trapping and 
    issuing of infringement notices to
    speeding motorists and it could be used to locate stolen cars.
    Transportation engineer Stephen Burnett, who advises central and local 
    government on transport issues, said
    microchips could easily hold vehicle details but to cover law enforcement 
    as well would come at a price.
    "There are tremendous benefits to be gained but that would also be tempered 
    with what information is on the
    chip and who has control of that information."
    Automobile Association spokesman George Fairbairn said the technology could 
    be used to charge people for
    driving at peak hours and on congested routes but it ran the risk of being 
    like "Big Brother is watching
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