Skip to content

August 25, 2010

For More Information, Contact:
Melissa Figueroa (916) 651-4011
Phil Yost (650) 688-6384


SACRAMENTO –Legislation authored by State Senator Joe Simitian (D-Palo Alto) to protect the privacy of drivers using the FasTrak payment system for toll bridges and roads has passed the Legislature and is on its way to the Governor.

The legislation, Senate Bill 1268, protects “locational privacy,” a person’s right not to be tracked while driving, in the following ways:

—Prohibits transportation agencies from selling or sharing personal data;
—Requires them to purge the data when it is no longer needed;
—Sets penalties for violations; and,
—Ensures that FasTrak subscribers are given notice of the privacy practices affecting them.

“There’s just no reason for a government agency to track the movements of Californians, let alone maintain that information in a database forever and ever,” said Simitian.

Simitian’s legislation ensures the privacy of the data that transportation agencies collect via FasTrak and other toll collection systems. FasTrak passes allow drivers to pay tolls electronically at bridges and on toll roads, creating a travel and billing record for each driver.

Less well known is the fact that the FasTrak cards are read by traffic monitoring systems throughout the Bay Area and elsewhere in the state to measure traffic congestion. Cameras that photograph license plates are also used to ensure tollpayer compliance by all drivers, even those who choose to pay by cash rather than use FasTrak.

“The net result,” says Simitian, “is that relatively obscure transportation agencies have personal data and travel histories for well over a million Californians, with no real meaningful legal protection from misuse of or inappropriate access to the data.”

“As transportation agencies increasingly collect data on drivers’ travel patterns, Sen. Simitian has recognized the threat to privacy,” said Beth Givens, director of Privacy Rights Clearinghouse. “This bill is necessary to ensure privacy is respected, personal data is protected, and transit agencies using electronic toll collection systems are held responsible for their use of subscriber information.”

“The state’s interest is in collecting tolls. Period.” Said Richard Holober, executive director of the Consumer Federation of California.  “that’s all the data should be used for. I’m pleased to see the Legislature endorse this level of protection.”

“Personal driving histories are just that, personal,” said Simitian. “State law should protect and respect the privacy of California drivers.” As Simitian points out, “your travel history is a road map to your personal life.  Where you’ve been, and when, day after day, year after year, reveals a lot about you.”

For more information on these bills, visit