RIDOT Director: Information from toll gantries will not be touched

Cars pass under toll sensor gantries hanging over the Massachusetts Turnpike, Monday, Aug. 22, 2016, in Newton, Mass. The state Department of Transportation is discussing plans for demolishing the tollbooths as it gets ready to implement an all-electronic tolling system on Interstate 90 which runs the length of the state. (AP Photo/Elise Amendola)

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – The Rhode Island Department of Transportation (RIDOT) held a public hearing on Friday where they addressed the installation of toll gantries for the states new truck toll program.

But some drivers are concerned about privacy protection when it comes to the new truck toll program.

“Since we have transponders on trucks why would we be scanning license plates?” Rep. Sherry Roberts asked at the meeting today.

Opponents at the hearing brought up concerns about privacy protection, since the toll system will use various technologies to detect and capture information and images from every motor vehicle that goes under the gantries.

“Our civil liberties are being stamped upon,” Sen. Elaine Morgan said. “We already have a surveillance system in place on all the highways dot has all the globe cameras is there a reason why we can’t utilize those cameras instead of some sweet deal someone is getting to out in this surveillance system which is going to cost us a good large chunk of money. it’s not fair its invasion of our privacy.”

RIDOT Director Peter Alviti and the Director of Rhode Island’s Turnpike and Bridge Authority Executive Director (RITBA) Buddy Croft both say they will continue to use their current privacy protection plan.

“None of that information is being retained,” Alviti said. “None of it is going to be used or even touched by RIDOT and all of the safeguards that have been in place and that have been effective for the last several years will remain in place and possibly even be added to.”

Croft said that RITBA has never had an issue with privacy in relation to toll gantries. In October 2012, RITBA adopted a privacy protection policy that covers open road tolling and All Electronic Tolling (AET).

“The privacy protection of every piece of data collected by our systems is job number one for us,” Croft said. “We are scrupulous and vigilant.  We anticipate applying the same strict and rigid standards of protection to the large commercial truck tolls that we use for our bridges.”

Alviti was not able to give an exact date on when these protection plans will be put into place, but he says it will be prior to the truck tolling programs completion.