BILL ANALYSIS                                                                                                                                                                                                    






           SENATE TRANSPORTATION & HOUSING COMMITTEE       BILL NO: AB 539
          SENATOR MARK DESAULNIER, CHAIRMAN              AUTHOR:  williams
                                                         VERSION: 6/27/12
          Analysis by:  Eric Thronson                    FISCAL:  no
          Hearing date:  July 3, 2012



          SUBJECT:

          Electronic toll collection systems:  privacy concerns

          DESCRIPTION:

          This bill permits transportation agencies to share some 
          information with toll collection agencies in other states in 
          order to participate in a nationwide interoperability program.  

          ANALYSIS:

          Toll agencies may employ an automatic vehicle identification 
          system to facilitate toll operations, such as the FasTrak 
          transponder that is commonly used in California.  These systems 
          allow subscribers to prepay tolls thereby eliminating the need 
          to stop at the toll plaza.  Existing law requires that the 
          California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) and toll 
          operators develop functional specifications and standards for 
          these systems to ensure interoperability.

          In 2010, the Legislature passed SB 1268 (Simitian) Chapter 489, 
          which established privacy protections for subscribers to 
          electronic toll collection systems and anyone else using toll 
          facilities.  Specifically, SB 1268 prohibited transportation 
          agencies from selling or otherwise providing personally 
          identifiable information about their subscribers, with some 
          minor exceptions such as for law enforcement purposes or to 
          comply with the state's interoperability efforts.
           
          This bill  explicitly permits transportation agencies to share 
          some information with toll collection agencies in other states 
          in order to participate in a nationwide interoperability 
          program.  This bill permits a transportation agency to share 
          only the license plate number, transponder identification 
          number, and date and time of a vehicle's use of the toll 
          facility.  Finally, this bill clarifies that current law does 
          not prohibit a transportation agency from performing certain 




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          functions, such as billing, toll collection, and violation 
          enforcement, whether or not the toll facility use occurs in 
          California.
          
          COMMENTS:

           1.Purpose  .  According to the author, this bill enables 
            California toll facility operators to participate in a 
            national toll interoperability pilot program, opening the door 
            for motorists with one toll transponder to travel non-stop 
            across the nation on any toll facility.  While existing law 
            allows toll agencies to share information for interoperability 
            purposes, it limits this sharing to in-state agencies.  This 
            bill enables these agencies to share certain information with 
            any toll collection agency within or outside the state.

           2.Background  .  As toll facilities across the nation move toward 
            all-electronic tolling and away from cash collection and toll 
            booth infrastructure, interoperability is becoming 
            increasingly important.  Currently, the country's toll 
            facilities are a patchwork of different technological groups 
            using proprietary systems inherently incapable of working 
            together.  This can be challenging for fleets that operate 
            throughout the country, road-tripping motorists, and others 
            who are currently required to carry multiple transponders in 
            order to navigate through different toll systems.

            Over the long term, the best solution is for all toll 
            collection agencies to adopt a uniform, standard, automatic 
            vehicle identification technology.  Changing out technologies 
            can present significant financial challenges to toll 
            operators, however, and therefore this solution may take time 
            to implement.  In the short-term, toll operators are seeking 
            an interim solution by establishing nationwide 
            interoperability standards such that the varied technologies 
            can communicate with each other and allow travelers to use one 
            transponder and be charged against one toll account.  

            The Alliance for Toll Interoperability is conducting a 
            national toll interoperability program for their member toll 
            agencies to be able to provide nationwide interoperability to 
            those agencies' active account holders.  This bill enables 
            California transportation agencies to participate in this 
            national program.

           3.Privacy concerns  .  SB 1268 instituted privacy protections for 




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            individuals with toll facility accounts due to concerns that 
            information originally collected for the purposes of 
            electronic toll collection could be provided to other 
            companies or organizations for marketing purposes.  This bill 
            allows the state's toll facilities to share some limited 
            information with organizations or other toll operators outside 
            the state.  Some have raised concerns that those organizations 
            may not comply with the state's privacy laws, undoing the 
            protections contained in SB 1268.  Therefore, the committee 
            may wish to consider an amendment requiring that toll 
            operators in the state only provide information to 
            organizations or entities that comply with requirements of 
            applicable state and federal privacy laws.
          
          Assembly Votes:

               Previous votes are not relevant.

          POSITIONS:  (Communicated to the committee before noon on 
          Wednesday,                                             June 27, 
          2012)

               SUPPORT:  None received.
          
               OPPOSED:  None received.