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California Wants GPS Tracking Device in Every Car 1351

HTS Member writes "California has a new excuse for more taxes. Claiming losses due to fuel-efficient cars, such as Gasoline/Electric Hybrids, California is cooking-up a new system to punish people who aren't using enough gasoline. They want to tax commuters by the mile. How would this be accomplished? By requiring everyone to install a GPS device in their vehicle, and charge them their "taxes" every time they fuel-up. From the article: 'Drivers will get charged for how many miles they use the roads, and it's as simple as that.. [a] team at Oregon State University equipped a test car with a global positioning device to keep track of its mileage. Eventually, every car would need one.'"
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California Wants GPS Tracking Device in Every Car

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  • by Uruviel ( 772554 ) on Tuesday February 15, 2005 @04:51PM (#11681246) Homepage
    Yeah tax by the mile... they tried that here in Holland. It didn't require a GPS device though. It worked with certain portals. Once you had passed one it would add an amount of miles to your pile.
  • Re:Patriot Act (Score:5, Informative)

    by GlassHeart ( 579618 ) on Tuesday February 15, 2005 @04:52PM (#11681273) Journal
    does anybody know the etymology of the word "patriot" with respect to this legislation?

    It is actually the USA PATRIOT Act, which is an acronym for "Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism".

  • Joy. (Score:3, Informative)

    by Tuxedo Jack ( 648130 ) on Tuesday February 15, 2005 @04:53PM (#11681288) Homepage
    This smacks of influence by the oil industry to hold on to its revenues while the people are moving to more efficient alternatives (hybrid cars).

    It's not like you can't find the GPS unit and remove it, or just disconnect it so it won't show up until the annual inspection.

    And here in Texas, there's an alternative to it - tollways. Beltway 8, the Westpark Tollway - they get tons of traffic every day, and at a buck-twenty-five a stop, they rake in plenty of cash, too.
  • by Iphtashu Fitz ( 263795 ) on Tuesday February 15, 2005 @04:54PM (#11681295)
    Here in Massachusetts the powers-that-be routinely go after people who live in the state but register their cars out of state, usually up in New Hampshire. Mass. has some strict regulations about auto insurance, but NH doesn't require insurance at all. So some people who live near the border with NH register their cars in NH. It also saves on state excise taxes. Of course once or twice a year the local news carries stories of how the police troll the neighborhoods looking for cars with NH license plates parked in MA driveways so that they can give out tickets (if the same car is seen there multiple days). I can see a similar huge upswell of out-of-state registrations in CA if this draconian Big Brother law is passed.
  • No problem (Score:5, Informative)

    by TechyImmigrant ( 175943 ) on Tuesday February 15, 2005 @04:55PM (#11681332) Homepage Journal

    Just fit one of these [] above the antenna. You can fake any journey or lack thereof that you choose.

  • Re:Patriot Act (Score:5, Informative)

    by Erwos ( 553607 ) on Tuesday February 15, 2005 @04:57PM (#11681367)
    I'm confused as to how you track people with a GPS device. GPS is _passive_. All GPS satellites do is emit a signal. They can't track anyone - the Pentagon has zero idea of how many people are using GPS at any particular time, let alone who they are.

    The state could conceivably rig the _device_ to remember where you were, which is a problem, but properly designed, the state could simply have it remember mileage. GPS is very good at determing velocity (and acceleration).

    Additionally, if this was a self-reporting tax (ie, show the number on the LCD to the tax man), potential for abuse would also be minimized.

    This is not to say CA's idea is a good one, but I get annoyed when people see "GPS" and assume that means they are being tracked.

  • by shadowknot ( 853491 ) * on Tuesday February 15, 2005 @04:59PM (#11681418) Homepage Journal
    There are plans in the works that would replace the current UK system of road tax with a per-mile scheme [] similar to CA's or an increase in the number of toll-roads. Although it is true that paying £120 ($227) is extremely unpopular surely there's a better way to pay for our roads.
  • by tunabomber ( 259585 ) on Tuesday February 15, 2005 @05:00PM (#11681428) Homepage
    Seriously, cars have high gasoline consumption for one (or both) of two reasons:

    1. They are big
    2. They are fast

    Bigger, faster cars do more damage to the roads and kill more people each year, so it makes sense that their drivers should have to pay more in gas taxes.

    Like California needs any more laws that encourage people to drive bigger cars- they already have the loophole described in this article [].
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 15, 2005 @05:14PM (#11681697)
    If you're going to complain about people not RTFA, at least RTFA yourself.

    From TFA:
    Officials in car-clogged California are so worried they may be considering a replacement for the gas tax altogether, replacing it with something called "tax by the mile."
  • by Quiet_Desperation ( 858215 ) on Tuesday February 15, 2005 @05:15PM (#11681701)
    It was a trial balloon floated last year, and it was hit by about seven million rounds of heavy ordinance from a unusually bipartisan array of sources. Rights groups stated flat out that they would have it tied up in court for the next five centuries. It ain't gonna happen.
  • by MillionthMonkey ( 240664 ) on Tuesday February 15, 2005 @05:23PM (#11681871)
    He owns a fleet of Hummers. Although he mumbled something a while ago about converting them all to hydrogen.
  • Re:Patriot Act (Score:3, Informative)

    by jmanforever ( 603829 ) <jmanforever AT rockroll DOT org> on Tuesday February 15, 2005 @05:24PM (#11681892)
    "I get annoyed when people see "GPS" and assume that means they are being tracked."

    If you use a digital cell phone, your location from GPS is sent to the cellular site, and recorded. You are being tracked. They could just as easily do this with GPS in your car - On*Star already does.

    A new law promoted by the cellular phone companies as a "safety issue for 911 calls" requires ALL new phones to have location identification built in. Of course the REAL reason they got this law to pass was to get rid of any old analog phones. They take up as much bandwidth as a dozen "digital quality" calls. Why charge for 1 phone call on a channel, when you can charge the same amount to 10 users on that one channel. Have you tried to activate an analog phone lately? They won't do it, and tell you that it is illegal. If you have an analog phone currently active, if you ever let it lapse, it will NOT be reactivated. I have already been through this with Cellular One, and Alltel.
  • by Colgate2003 ( 735182 ) on Tuesday February 15, 2005 @05:31PM (#11682002) Homepage
    MA does not track your speed using Fastlane. I work in Massachusetts and talk about RFID as part of my job. However, you can get a ticket for speeding through a toll booth if you have a Fastlane tag. There are RADAR guns next to the lanes, and if you exceed the 15mph limit, you get a ticket in the mail. In this case the Fastlane tag is only used to identify you, while the RADAR is measuring your speed.
  • by Insightfill ( 554828 ) on Tuesday February 15, 2005 @05:32PM (#11682023) Homepage
    Don't forget, Oregon is also the state where they both give you a tax credit for buying a hybrid, but charge you double for annual vehicle registration if you try to license one.

    Like this. []

  • by prgrmr ( 568806 ) on Tuesday February 15, 2005 @05:35PM (#11682061) Journal
    In addition to the GPS being a potentially unlawful search, the tax, if deemed to be prohibitive, may be a breach of the US Citizens' right to travel. IANAL, but this site [] offers a perspective that may be applicable to this situation.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 15, 2005 @05:37PM (#11682085)
    The Constitution explicitly permits this: Article I, Section 10, Clause 2. Duties on Imports No State shall, without the Consent of the Congress, lay any Imposts or Duties on Imports or Exports, except what may be absolutely necessary for executing its inspection Laws: and the net Produce of all Duties and Imposts, laid by any State on Imports or Exports, shall be for the Use of the Treasury of the United States; and all such Laws shall be subject to the Revision and Controul of the Congress. emphasis mine
  • by 3terrabyte ( 693824 ) on Tuesday February 15, 2005 @05:47PM (#11682232) Journal
    Nice of you to clear that up! Very interesting.

    On a side note, even in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, they have for years had a camera under a bypass mailing people a picture of their car while speeding, and the ticket for speeding.

    Not as Orwellian as being id'd by Fastlane detection, but similar. So I don't see why one would scare people more than the other.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 15, 2005 @05:51PM (#11682292)
    Especially when a "relatively inexpensive" house in CA costs half a million.
  • by Wyatt Earp ( 1029 ) on Tuesday February 15, 2005 @05:52PM (#11682316)
    This is funny, yesterday in a geology class (mining and energy) we had a spokesmodel from Congressman Blumenauer's staff. I asked her specificly what the Congressman's stance on this was. She hemmed and hawed and finally said - "I think he would be more supportive of higher gas tax than a system like this."

    California might want to push this, but I think it's a ICC deal and thus, Federal.
  • by dfenstrate ( 202098 ) * <> on Tuesday February 15, 2005 @06:25PM (#11682779)
    Yes, but for violating a toll. You have to stop if you don't have fastlane to pay the toll.
  • by Sir Holo ( 531007 ) * on Tuesday February 15, 2005 @06:54PM (#11683112)
    Don't forget, Oregon is also the state where they both give you a tax credit for buying a hybrid, but charge you double for annual vehicle registration if you try to license one.

    No, it's not [].
  • by Spirit Of Atlantis ( 672530 ) on Tuesday February 15, 2005 @08:04PM (#11683937)
    Here in The Netherlands you get government subsidies when buying a hybrid, electric or hydrogen car.(Although the last two are not widely available yet)
    This is because when you buy such a car, you as a citizen contribute to the reduction of CO2 and pollution in the air and therefor help the government in reaching Kyoto Protocol milestones.
    So you actually get rewarded, because the government here wants to stimulate cleaner means of transportation and if i'm not mistaking a government that does not reach the Kyoto Protocol milestones will get fined, but i'm not sure about this.
    So in a way you as a citizen here help the government in preventing itself from getting fined by Kyoto.

    The subsidy is most often given in the way of a rebate when you purchase your car, which can vary from 800 to 4000 Euros(The Prius saves you about 4000($5200 US) last time a saw a tv-commercial about it), but can also be given in the form of tax-refunds.
    So in short, when buying a prius here, they'll cut 4000 Euros($5200 US) from the price for you, because of the government subsidies

    The same is true for household equipment, like washing machines, dryers, dishwashers etc etc. If they are energy efficient passing a certain threshold of efficiency(electricity and/or water), then you'll also get a rebate or tax refund...usually rangng from 100-200 Euros.

    This seemed to work quite well, because in 2004 for the first time in the history of The Netherlands, less water was used in family homes on average...entirely because of more efficient household equipment.
    And if i'm not mistaking more EU member governments work this way, because ussually the cleanest equipment(and maybe cars also) come with a certain sticker which is a seal of EU approvement.
    I guess this is so, because Kyoto is not just an issue of one country, but countries working together.
  • KISS (Score:1, Informative)

    by ( 843637 ) on Wednesday February 16, 2005 @12:31AM (#11685949)
    Kep it simple stupid! Don't go wrapping anything in tinfoil... One thing us techies tend to forget...computers don't work too well when they are unplugged. Snip the cord/unplug it and there's no more GPS. Period. You can even unplug your VSS's (speed sensors) to prevent trackage, too. Oh, and there's no way they'll make the comm. between the car's computer and the GPS tracker mandatory for ignition re: the underground parking, out of state driving ideas. GPS tracking is a useless idea, it would only work on the morons that leave it turned on. Inject.

"An open mind has but one disadvantage: it collects dirt." -- a saying at RPI