Privacy Concern With Arena Parking Plan

Construction for the Kings’ new arena, Golden 1 Center, is moving right along. As with all downtown arenas, ample parking will be an important factor in the success of the arena as a popular venue. One inevitable byproduct of a multitude of parking garages in a limited area is the potential for people to forget which one they parked in. Apparently this routinely happens in the open lots at Sleep Train Arena.

To help address this problem once Golden 1 opens, the city of Sacramento has come up with an idea: install license-plate recognition cameras in city-owned garages, and provide a phone service for people to use that will tell them where their car is.

In theory this idea sounds pretty innovative. But, I have yet to find (granted I haven’t asked the city yet) any policies on how this data will be protected. For example, I’ve written before about many police department’s lack of policies on retention and use of license plate tracking software and data. In this case I would also be very interested in hearing how the city plans to make sure that only owners or authorized users of the vehicle are able to access the system. I also don’t think it’s unreasonable to be concerned about how this system could be abused by stalkers, abusive spouses, etc.

So, while I applaud the idea and think it could be used effectively, I am also eager to see how the city plans to protect the data. Specifically, I would like to see four things included in an official policy:

  1. A limited amount of time that the city stores the data
  2. Access to the data limited to necessary city personnel
  3. Safeguards to limit accessibility to vehicle location while a vehicle is parked
  4. Limits on sharing the data with other departments, agencies or governments

Making parking in downtown garages easier and more convenient is definitely welcome, but even more important is safeguarding the privacy of people who choose to use those garages. Hopefully the city will take these concerns seriously.

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