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    Capitol News Service (Maine): GPS seen as threat to privacy

    Capitol News Service reports on privacy questions concerning the use of location-tracking GPS technology in Maine.

    The State Bureau of Consumer Credit Protection confirmed that it recently received a query from an out of state finance company about placing GPS devices in financed vehicles. […]

    A purchaser whose financing was handled by a company that planned to sell the loan to the secondary market would have a GPS device installed in the vehicle as a condition of completing the purchase. Data from the GPS would accrue during the weeks or months between the purchase and the sale of the loan to the secondary market.

    [Bureau of consumer credit protection superintendent Will Lund] said the lawyer [for the finance company] stated the data from the device would help determine whether a person was working by analyzing the person’s travel pattern. He said it is based on the current use of GPS devices to track commercial vehicles and rental cars, which is widespread in both of those industries. […]

    In an e-mail to the lawyer, Lund said he could not find any authority of his office to block the use of GPS devices. […]

    “While I am uncomfortable ‘blessing’ the GPS program,” Lund wrote, “I am unable to find a law within the Consumer Credit Code that would be violated by its use.”

    The lawyer argued that a consumer “may waive whatever rights they may have to privacy” and said it happens all the time in commerce. He gave visiting a doctor’s office as an example. But Lund responded disclosure of the device being placed in their vehicle would not really protect consumers if it became regular practice to require the devices in order to finance the purchase of a car or truck. […]

    Attorney General Janet Mills [said that she] was not aware of the e-mail exchange, but she said there are privacy interests and privacy protections outside of the consumer credit code.

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