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Tweaks in Place to Improve Parking Location Privacy, RTC Says

by Karen Goff — August 26, 2016 at 10:00 am 21 Comments

Reston Town Center Parking

Representatives from Boston Properties want to assure users that additional privacy measures are going into place for visitors to Reston Town Center.

New technological features (electronic parking availability signage; app-based payment; Bluetooth-enabled validation; and a GPS/license plate car locater system) are about to go live at Reston Town Center prepares to switch to paid parking on Sept. 12.

ParkRTC AppEarlier this week, Reston Now reported that by typing a license plate number into the Park Assist app, anyone with a computer could find out where your car was parked.

Kathy Walsh, spokesman for Reston Town Center’s paid parking rollout, says that issue was related to testing done by Park Assist and has been remedied.

“That issue has been addressed to prevent it from happening again,” she said in an email. “The ‘Find My Car’ feature will ONLY be available by using the pay stations located onsite at the Reston Town Center garages.”

Several readers contacted Reston Now about concerns that security cameras could film them entering and exiting their cars. One resident called it a “stalker’s dream.”

These privacy concerns are different than the other privacy concerns some people have, which involve the ParkRTC App having access to credit card info, GPS location and contact lists.

Rob Weinold, another RTC parking spokesman, said user security is “critically important to both Passport Inc and RTC, and we take our responsibility to protect that information very seriously.”

He said no information will be sold or distributed to third parties.

“Passport conducts regular audits of their information security systems to ensure that there are no vulnerabilities,” he said. “Passport also holds compliance with PCI DSS Level 1 certification– the most stringent data security framework administered by the PCI Security Standards Council. … Passport Parking with never sell or distribute ParkRTC user information to third parties.”

Walsh said safeguards will be in place that will prevent the ParkRTC app and Park Assist for searching online for a car via a license plate.

“You must be physically onsite to look for a car [on the Find My Car kiosk], and as Park Assist points out, once you are there, you could easily just walk around the garage to look for a specific car.”

  • Ming the Merciless

    I simply don’t know how I got through life up to this point without a “find my car” app and using only the obsolete “remember where I parked” system.

    • taylor13

      Exactly! And if I did have trouble with misplacing my car on a regular basis, I would download the “find my car” AP that already exists and is probably a little more secure.

  • NovaMom

    They have not answered the concern about ANYONE using the kiosk in the garage to look up a license plate number and see who parked the car. This system is a stalker’s dream. A stalker or rapist can type in a list of license plates in the kiosk to find his specific target or a car where there’s a single woman. Hey RTC – You have not adequately addressed this community’s concerns. Stop avoiding the questions!!!

    • ohcomeon

      I’m against this awful parking situation as much as everyone else but do you really envision lines of rapists and stalkers lining up at these kiosks to see where someone has parked?

      • ithappenedto me

        All it takes is one. And there will be one.

    • Why do you bother?

      You beat me to it. “…so, I’ll just walk up to this here kiosk and see where that woman goes…”

  • Arielle in NoVA

    If they’re still taking photos of people getting out of their cars, that could cause occasional issues when said people aren’t with folks they’re supposed to be pictured with, or are there when they aren’t expected to be. Like, folks having affairs… business deals… people looking to change jobs… folks sneaking out of work…

  • Privacy Advocate

    PCI compliance only covers credit card security compliance, and my credit card number is the piece of information I am least worried about, it is easy to change a credit card number. That’s small comfort.

    This answer does not address true data security concerns especially location-based data. The data security concerns are much more complex and insidious than physical security concerns like stalking. Kiosks are still vulnerable to hacking. Reston is a tech town full of world-class programmers and hackers who would love to mess with location data and ParkFinder images – just for fun – even remotely.

    I have contacted both Park Assist and [email protected] asking for more information about location data security, data storage, encryption, etc. Let’s see if they get back to me.

    I don’t mind paying for parking. I don’t even mind opting-in to share my location data with an app. I DO mind blatantly broadcasting personally identifiable license plate location-based information without my consent to any member of the public.

  • cRAzy

    The more BP talks, the deeper the BS gets.

    • Why do you bother?

      You win the internets today!

  • John

    BP is not telling the full truth. They are busy spinning people. There is nothing that prevents BP or Passport from selling ALL personal information they collect including location information. Don’t believe the BP spin. Read the legal terms of service. There is NOTHING in the legal terms of service preventing BP and Passport from selling any and all personal information. The amount of BP spin and dishonesty is stunning.

  • cosmo

    “another RTC parking spokesman”? How many spokespeople does RTC’s parking system need? Maybe that’s why they’re going to paid parking. They need to pay all these spokespeople.

    • Karen Goff

      To be fair, Rob Weinhold is on vacation this week and Kathy Walsh is a co-worker taking the calls.

  • vdiv

    Wonder if there is now a market for smoke grenades at the RTC 😉

  • Evey Hammond

    Another reason for me to keep on talking the bus.

  • Generic User

    So who are Rob Weinold and Kathy Walsh? They work for the Fallston Group, a firm that specializes in crisis and issue management consulting. They are the people you call when you have a PR nightmare and need professionals to fix it (think Mylan and Ryan Lochte right now). So basically Boston Properties totally screwed this up and had to hire Fallston to polish this turd.

    • cRAzy

      Hmmmmm . . . Maybe BP wants to re-think hiring them.

      So far, they suck.

  • Why do you bother?

    “user security is “critically important to both Passport Inc and RTC, and we take our responsibility to protect that information very seriously.”

    Yeah, to protect its availability to BP…

  • JD

    “You must be physically onsite to look for a car [on the Find My Car kiosk], and as Park Assist points out, once you are there, you could easily just walk around the garage to look for a specific car.”

    So why have the feature at all if you can just easily walk around the garage to find your car?

  • 30yearsinreston

    BP can spin all they want
    I.won’t.be using their system

  • Simon Coyle

    You could take a look at the EZR Mobile Platform at http://www.ezrmobile.com, Tap the EZR Mobile button, which will solve those issues. Please check out and give me a call if you have any questions.

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