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Citizen privacy tops Montanans' list of concerns

Great Falls Tribune | May 9, 2005
By KEILA SZPALLER

If Congress decided to tax drivers by the mile, someone would have to monitor those miles. Would it be Big Brother?

That's what drivers at the Flying J Travel Plaza Sunday feared most about the proposed mile tax.

Diana Bauer isn't interested in having the government monitor her whereabouts. She has worked as a trucker since 1985.

"I am worried about them tracking every little thing," she said. "I feel like us truck drivers deserve some privacy."

Kirk Mann, a trucker who has been based in Great Falls for one year, hauls household goods around the country. Having a tracking device in his vehicle could turn him away from the industry completely.

"I just don't think I'd stick around for that," he said.

For more than 32 years, Jake Hermary has been driving trucks. Hermary, based in Alberta, said that tracking devices aren't new and that many trucking companies legitimately use them.

"The companies use it for their own dispatch purposes," he said.

But he isn't keen on allowing the government access.

"Government just wants to keep track of you," he said.

Dave Westenbarger, a Great Falls citizen who said he drives a little less than the average citizen, isn't afraid of government snooping. But he believes the system for tracking miles, including the tracking device, won't prove to be cost-effective.

"I think it's too costly to administer, probably," he said.

In an Oregon pilot project, to be launched this year, a mileage tracking device will be used. It does protect privacy, according to Oregon officials quoted by Gannett News Service. The device records miles driven but it does not store vehicles' locations.

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