All over the city, little white boxes have been popping up, affixed to traffic light poles at busy intersections. Their purpose: to observe and collect data from the E-ZPass devices in the cars driving by below. And despite attempts by the Brooklyn Paper to gather more information about the boxes, the city has kept tight-lipped. Spokespeople for the Department of Transportation said the gadgets were for collecting “aggregate data,” not giving tickets, and refused to give the locations of all of the boxes.
Famed civil rights attorney and former NYCLU director Norman Siegel was suspicious about the E-ZPass eyes in the sky, and about the DOT’s lack of information regarding them. “When they say that it is done for aggregate purposes, that sounds suspiciously vague,” he said, describing a situation in which the devices could be used to track specific cars as they travel through the city. “[Tracking technology] is a growing area for civil liberties concerns at this point.”