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Privacy May be Concern for Reston Town Center Parking App Users

by Karen Goff April 27, 2016 at 2:45 pm 40 Comments

Parking garage at Reston Town CenterWhen Reston Town Center initiates paid parking beginning Aug. 1, it will be under an app-based system developed by Passport Parking.

While Reston Town Center officials say the gateless, ticketless license plate recognition system is secure, a quick look through Passport Parking’s privacy policy says otherwise.

Parking will be $2 an hour in RTC’s seven garages on weekdays starting this summer. It will remain free on weekends (12 a.m. Saturday to 12 a.m. Monday). Patrons as well as RTC employees will have to pay. Many stores will validate for some free parking, but the exact system and which stores will participate has not been finalized.

RTC is encouraging customers to register their license plate and payment information with the app.

“When customers download the app, they will then be able to pay for their parking from the comfort of their vehicle or extend their parking session remotely,” says the Frequently Asked Questions section on Reston Town Center’s website.

“There will be no need to visit a pay station, as the fee will be automatically charged to their designated credit card at the end of the parking session. Multiple license plates and credit cards may be added into your account when using the Park RTC app.”

Furthermore, RTC says “Park RTC solely hosted by Passport Parking, Inc. will keep all details secure in accordance with their privacy policy, which can be found online when the system goes live. ”

While your credit card info will probably be secure, the rest is open to interpretation.

Passport says users can opt out of sharing some personal info, but “if you choose not to share, some parts of our sites and some services may be more difficult or impossible to use.”

Visitors to RTC do not have to use the app, though RTC management is encouraging them to do so. Visitors will also be able to pay manually via a kiosk.

According to Passport Parking’s privacy policy:

When you download, access and use our application or website, it may use technology to automatically collect:

Website Details.We may also collect information about the parts of our application or website you use or third party websites you visit when you leave our website.  We may work with third parties who collect information about you when you use our apps or website.

App Usage Details. When you access and use the application, we may automatically collect certain details of your access to and use of the app, including location data and other communication data and the resources that you access and use on or through the app.

Device Information. If you download our application, we may collect information from your mobile device, like your device ID.

Other information.  We may collect information about your IP address, operating system, browser type, mobile network information and the device’s telephone number.

Location Information.Our application collects real-time information about the location of your device to provide you services and to make it easier for you to use our service.

Information Collection Technologies

The technologies we use for automatic information collection may include:

  • Cookies (or mobile cookies).A cookie is a small file placed on your smartphone. It may be possible to refuse to accept mobile cookies by activating the appropriate setting on your smartphone. However, if you select this setting you may be unable to access certain parts of our application.

You can choose whether or not to share personal information. If you choose not to share, some parts of our sites and some services may be more difficult or impossible to use.

Your browser may give you the ability to reject cookies or turn off location-based capabilities.

If you choose not to disable these features, some parts of our sites and some services may be more difficult or impossible to use.  If you do not want us to collect information about you or your device do not download the application or uninstall it from your device.

Passport Parking says “we use information that we collect about you or that you provide to us, including any personal information, to:

  • We use information to respond to your requests or questions.For example we may use your information to help you access your account if you forget your password.
  • We use your information to help us improve our products and services. We may use information to customize and improve your experience.  For example, we might look at usage trends to make sure our sites and apps are easy to use.
  • For security purposes. We may use information to protect our company, our customers, our websites, or our applications.
  • To provide updates. For example, we may send you email or push notifications about your account, transactions, or changes to our sites, applications, or policies.
  • For our legitimated business purposes.  We will also use your information to fulfill any other purpose for which you provide it.  We may also use information you provide to carry out our obligations and enforce our rights arising from any contracts entered into between you and us, including for billing and collection.  We may combine information that we receive about you from third parties with information we already have.
  • As otherwise permitted by law.

  • Lisa W.

    This deal just gets better and better.

    • Why do you bother?

      You beat me to it.

    • Dodge

      They have altered the deal.

  • Agnes Powers

    What if one does not own a smart phone? Any other alternative to pay?

    • Karen Goff

      Yes. Go to the FAQS to get details. You can get a ticket and then take it to a kiosk to pay.

    • jmsullivan

      Someone without a smart phone is hardly “elite.” Why would someone like that come to the Town Center in the first place? It’s not _for_ them, don’t you see?

  • RestonRed

    This is outrageous! If we must deal with paid parking, just do the kiosks like at Dulles or Pentagon City mall. I do not want RTC or this Park Passport company to have tabs on where my device is (thereby knowledge of where I am), what websites I visit etc. Not reason justifies this. What about people without smart phones or if you lost or forgot your phone?

    I MIGHT have come around to paid parking but I will never come around to this app.

  • meh

    Fantastic, not only do you get to pay for parking – but you get to provide a metric ton of data for 3rd party vendors to purchase while you receive nothing. Just think, because you’ll need your GPS on the whole time – it will be known what stores you go to, on which days and how long you spend in each place!

    Even better – if a purchase is required to validate parking, they’ll be able to sync that up with the rest of the data. Yay!!!!

    And the best part – when the data becomes compromised (when, not if) you won’t be able to do anything about it.

  • Dentro

    Meh. This kind of stuff is buried in every privacy policy and every app. If you don’t like it, pay the less convenient way. It’s really not a big deal.

    • EliteinReston

      You are correct, these disclosures usually are routine with apps. However, there’s a twist to this one. It’s a matter of trust. Boston Properties did not disclose the parking fee to its tenants and their employees until it was outed by Reston Now. The same company offered no public explanation or compromise why it could not drop the fee on weeknights, when commuter parking is not an issue. Now we are being asked to trust their vendor with our personal information.

      • Mike M

        I love how people say, well the NSA, or LL Bean, or Amazon is taking our data so I guess everyone should. Sheeple!

      • Dentro

        If you can’t separate your rage about paying for parking from your rage about apps collecting data, then go ahead and conflate the two issues. Whatever.

        • EliteinReston

          Ooh. Great update on a name for a band. Rage Against the App.

        • Mike M

          Psst! The world is a highly “conflated” place. Recognizing it is the first step in being able to handle it.

  • Nate_VA

    They’re going to collect my device’s telephone number? If I get even one marketing call or text because of this that will be the end of my visits to RTC.

    • meh

      Just wait until the application requires notifications to be turned on. Then when you’re walking by Jacksons, your phone starts lighting up and says you have a 5% coupon but buried in the details says its only on items that end in the letter Z

    • Why do you bother?

      The day before this paid parking plan goes into effect will be the last time I visit RTC.

    • SofaKingStupid

      Or you could simply not use the app to pay for parking. Or you could drive all the way to Tysons during rush hour. Or you could walk. Or you could complain all day about the weather.

  • Joel Patterson

    Yet another reason I’m going anywhere other than RTC on weekdays as soon as this hits. Tysons, downtown Herndon and places like Lake Anne must be gleeful watching RTC shoot itself in the head. I haven’t talked to one business in RTC that thinks any good will come from this.

  • John Q Public

    how convenient and kind of them ….Just another reason I wont be visiting the clown center…This area is simply one big money grab..

  • cRAzy

    Boston Properties is making Tysons look good–and that takes WORK!

  • Khristian Gutierrez

    Hi Reston Now readers,

    We, at Passport, appreciate your feedback and want to provide a bit of clarification about our Privacy Policy. The policy discussed in this post is Passport’s standard privacy policy. However, the Reston Town Center application’s privacy policy, which will be released with the ParkRTC application, will be tailored to reflect the unique needs of the community. We do, however, understand your concerns around the general framework under which Passport collects and uses data generated by the application.

    We collect data to make our application more useful to the people that use it. This has been our organizing principle as we have built applications for the largest cities in North America, from Chicago to Boston to Toronto, and we don’t take our responsibility to be vigilant guardians of your information lightly. Neither Passport nor our partners have any interest in selling or even accessing individual activity data, and we access it only to provide support if you enter the wrong parking location in the app or you receive an erroneous parking ticket.

    We love working with engaged communities to make parking a more pleasant and efficient experience, and we admire your passion. We look forward to bringing our solution to Reston Town Center and demonstrating that we’re equally passionate about improving the communities where our application is available.

    • cRAzy

      Well written BS, Khristian, but still BS.

      • Evey Hammond

        The “as otherwise permitted by law” makes me very nervous, too.

    • Nate_VA

      So you are guaranting that my cell phone number will never be given to a third party?

      Do you have any influence with Boston Properties? If so, Please tell them that their plan to resolve the ‘commuter parking problem’ is a pathetic smoke screen to mask corporate greed.

    • Chuck Morningwood

      Meh. That information has value. Sooner or later, you folks will get around to selling it.

    • RestonRed

      Even if you have no interest in this data, once it is collected it is valuable and open to hackers or selling it to 3rd party. And we don’t believe that you have no interest accessing our data. If that were the case you would not collect it.

    • meh

      You said, “seeling or accessing individual data” . However, that doesn’t address data aggregation and analytic. There is still large value in knowing the patterns of the community over a large period of time. By knowing which routes people take to & from the parking garage, retailers can adjust accordingly.

      Please, do not urinate on my leg and tell me it is raining. As I was born at night but not last night

    • EliteinReston

      Guardians of the Town Center, I mean Guardians of the Galaxy 2, is due out next year. I won’t pay an extra $4 or more in parking fees to see it on a weekday though at the town center. If I owned the Bow Tie chain, I would be furious that I spent thousands of dollars renovating the place only to be blindsided by my landlord that he now will be charging my customers and low-paid young workers to park– on the grounds that I am an elite destination.

    • Mike M

      Hi Passport,

      We in Reston in 2016 appreciate your response and want to provide a bit of clarification about our concern. The concern discussed in this post is standard concern about privacy. This concern has been codified in the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States which has largely been ignored in the context of the Internet and more recent wireless technology. So, naturally, we expect that you understand our concerns around the general framework under which Passport collects and uses data generated by “the application.”

      We generate data in simply getting from point A to point B in the 21st century because it can be more efficient. Efficiency has been our organizing principle as we have built the world as we know it and we don’t take our responsibility to be vigilant guardians of efficiency lightly. Most of us have no interest in your selling or even accessing individual activity data, and hope that you access it only to provide support if you enter the wrong parking location in the app or you receive an erroneous parking ticket. But we know how BP operates and how data walks and some of the bad things that others of us might do with it.

      We love working with BP and engaged app developers to make parking a more pleasant and efficient experience, and we . . . admire your passion, homina, homina. We look forward to bringing a solution to Reston Town Center and demonstrating that we’re equally passionate about improving the communities where your application is available.

      . . . Gee, Khristian. Your job is easy!

  • tomertl

    Screw that noise! Not visiting or parking at RTC Monday – Friday! I hope many follow me in the boycott! Reston-ites will not stand for this… revenue will be lost.

  • Chuck Morningwood

    I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: just one more reason not to go to RTC.

    Ever, that is.

  • BooBots

    Fuggeddabouttit! Bye Bye, RTC!

  • John Higgins

    I get confused easily. But I’m always confused when a time is cited as 12 a.m. Or 12 p.m. By definition neither noon nor midnight are “ante” or “post” meridian. They are on the meridian. So I turn to context. An invitation to lunch at 12 a.m. means meet me at noon. Context fails me in understanding the parking fee plan. It’s free from noon Saturday until noon Monday? That sounds odd since Saturday begins after 11:59 p.m. on Friday., perhaps it means free parking all day Saturday and all day Sunday, until 12:01 a.m. Monday. That’s odd, too.

    • Karen Goff

      Yes, according to their FAQ – free parking goes into effect late Friday night (12 a.m. Saturday) to when Sunday turns to Monday. So free parking all Saturday and Sunday, even in wee-late hours.

      • John Higgins

        Thank you, Karen.

  • Dodge

    I certainly will enjoy riding my bicycle to the newly empty town center.

  • Mike

    Just don’t go on the weekends and obviously during the week. It’s free on the weekends for a reason. Take the reason and use it against them.. Food for thought..

    • Mike M

      It could use some seasoning.

  • Mike M

    I am a whiner for saying basically what you say – that data rights and info security are largely ignored? I am calling it out where I see it wherever I can. I work in the IT field. You presume a lack of knowledge and conflate it that important issue, then conflate that with your hipster view of cars. My car is how I get around in my reality – suburban United States. It’s not a toy. My anger at someone reaching deeper into my pocket is the opposite of entitlement. Since when do Libs start calling the aversion to ever higher fees and taxes for less in return s sense of entitlement. If you look back, you will see I never questioned the right of BP to charge the fee.


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