The Maine State Bureau of Consumer Credit Protection reported today that it has received a query from an unnamed out-of-state finance company about placing Global Positioning System units into vehicles it finances or that its customers used as collateral, according to an article in the Bangor Daily News.

Such GPSes were not intended to help the company repossess the vehicle more easily or to track it in case of theft, but to ensure that the person was working by analyzing the person's traffic pattern, said bureau of consumer credit protection superintendent Will Lund, according to the article.

Worse, Lund said he could not find any authority of his office to block the use of such devices. Maine Attorney General Janet Mills also expressed concern that, once collected, the data could be used in other ways.

Privacy issues are increasingly a concern with GPS units and automobiles, according to an article yesterday in the New York Times. Particularly at issue is whether police attaching a GPS unit to a car under suspicion violates the Fourth Amendment law against unreasonable search and seizure, with different appellate courts issuing different rulings on its legality.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation and the American Civil Liberties Union also filed a brief in the most recent case, which "argued that unsupervised use of such tactics would open the door for police to abuse their power and continuously track anyone's physical location for any reason, without ever having to go to a judge to prove the surveillance is justified."

The biggest problem this could lead to is discrimination against people who use public transport to commute to work or work from home.

The rules about GPS use need to be clearly defined and unfortunately the courts are much slower than the technology development. My own opinion is that as long as the person is informed of the GPS and exactly who has access to the data it is acceptable.

oh, good point, I hadn't even thought of the public transit aspect.

Car dealers in my area use a killswitch system. If you are over 1 month late on payments your car will fail to start until you are current. This is used by the 'we finance anyone' dealers.

This is just such an egregious invasion of privacy that I am (almost) speechless... It should be as illegal and unconstitutional as it is unpalatable.