The Implications of Current and Emerging Privacy Law for ITS - FY08 TechPlan

Principal Investigator(s):

Frank Douma, Director, State & Local Policy, Humphrey School of Public Affairs

Project summary:

As Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) incorporate the gathering and compilation of data into the transportation infrastructure, questions about privacy implications, stemming from the potential misallocation or abuse of collected data, have arisen. As the United States has no comprehensive national regulatory structure for privacy, answers to these questions can only be found by considering of variety of sources of federal and state privacy law. In this project, researchers investigated federal and state privacy law as applied to modern technology and transportation systems. They focused on the legal status of various ITS technologies, particularly traffic management and in-vehicle applications, and addressed privacy with respect to both government entities, such as law enforcement, and private entities, such as insurance companies. Research was conducted with the intent to help ITS developers and providers construct and deploy ITS technologies that avoid or survive legal challenges, and that comply with public expectations of privacy; it may also help legal professionals and public policymakers update privacy law and account for the development of ITS technologies. Other goals were to further develop the descriptions and definitions of "privacy" in vehicles using ITS, to investigate the policy questions raised by new technologies that appear to infringe on this notion, and to propose solutions, both technological and legal, that could accommodate these innovations. The final paper includes proposals for legal reforms to potentially "level the playing field" and remove legal obstacles to ITS implementation. The authors have also created a toolbox to help ITS developers and providers understand when privacy issues arise and identify opportunities to mitigate these risks.


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