Parking convenience may come with privacy cost

by: Essex Porter Updated:


SEATTLE - Seattle's new pay by cellphone parking system offers convenience to drivers -- but it can come at a cost to privacy.

The new system went online yesterday and, if there are no major glitches, will be expanded to the entire city by the end of the year.

After parking, the driver uses a cellphone to tell the city exactly where the car and to pay for parking.

That's means there's a digital record of the driver's whereabouts that can be accessed later. "You  know, it doesn't really concern me," said Angelia Nivens, after she parked near Pike Place Market, "because I feel like so many of my emails are tracked through my work office, things are tracked that I'm shopping for online."

The King County prosecutor's office told us parking information is accessible to law-enforcement officials.

In other cities, private investigators and divorce lawyers have tried to get similar tracking information.

Seattle Department of Transportation officials told us there is not an expectation of privacy when parking on a city street.

"It's either that or go off the grid and just use cash for everything," said Alex Redstone of Bow.

And that's still possible when parking on Seattle streets. The parking kiosks still take coins.