I recently attended a conference on “Respecting Privacy in Global Networks“. One of the talks was about road usage charging – the general idea being that instead of paying a flat fee related to your vehicle type, you pay for the roads you actually use. Of course, the obvious ways to implement this (either using a GPS to log a trail to some kind of secure device which is periodically examined to determine fees, or by collecting car details with roadside receivers) are stupendously privacy invading.
But, it occurs to me, we have the technology at our fingertips to make this system anonymous (except for defaulters) quite easily. All we need to do is fit cars with a device that can spend anonymous digital cash as they pass checkpoints. Cars that don’t fork out get their numberplate photographed. Obviously you have to back this up with legislation that forbids checking numberplates except on defaults but that seems easy enough.
Of course in London we should have this system for congestion charging, which already monitors everyone’s movements.