ITS Personal Data Needs: How Much Do We Really Need to Know?


Frank Douma, Thomas Garry, Stephen Simon

July 2012

Report no. CTS 12-21

The recent spread of geolocation technology in intelligent transportation systems (ITS) raises difficult and important policy questions about locational privacy. However, much of the current public discussion on locational privacy and ITS appears at risk of becoming increasingly disconnected. In one camp are privacy advocates and others who oppose the spread of ITS locational technology on privacy grounds. In the other camp are technologists and the ITS industry who generally view privacy issues as a secondary matter. The net result is that the ITS privacy debate often involves two sides talking past each other, with too little energy spent on finding potential common ground. This disconnect in part results from a lack of basic clarity, on both sides, about just what the needs and interests of those involved in the ITS privacy issue are and how they relate to the betterment of the transportation system. This report sheds new light on the ITS privacy debate by identifying just who is involved in the ITS privacy problem and what their goals are with respect to privacy and ITS data. The analysis identifies the types of locational data and the methods for obtaining it that create privacy conflicts and, in turn, recommends general approaches for both policymakers and industry practitioners to better manage these conflicts. The report represents a first effort in mapping the interests of participants in the ITS privacy debate.

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ITS Institute (RITA)