There are times when privacy is truly jeopardized. Intel and Microsoft give us wonderful examples of this whenever they release new products. The FBI never ceases to chip away at the concept. Sometimes people in your own house fail to understand the right to privacy.


US citizens tend to expect a certain level of privacy. For just about anything outside of a public event, privacy in the US is good enough. US police don’t look for trouble the way that other democracies do. Your lowest level of privacy as a US National comes with crossing the border.


Signing a contract also usually involves waiving your right to privacy. Sometimes clauses in a contract can be rather explicit. Almost always, they are crystal clear about who has a right to what.


All too often, however, people don’t do what is called “paying some f*ckin’ attention” when signing any kind of agreement.


The case in question comes from a New Haven rental company, Acme Rent-a-Car, and Connecticut resident, James Turner.


Mr. Turner rented a car from Acme to go on a little trip. When he returned, he was charged his rental rate plus $450 in fines for exceeding 79mph three times. Acme knew that Turner was speeding because of Global Position Satellites (GPS). Acme charged Turner the fines because it was a clause in the contract.


According to CNET News, Acme’s policy of tracking and penalties for “dangerous” use was spelled out in bold type at the top of the contract. Turner agreed to the practices of Acme–right or wrong–and now he’s trying to get his $450 back because he couldn’t take an extra minute to figure out what he was signing.


Turner’s advocates include the Privacy Foundation which feels that, “quite frankly, it is the job of the police to issue speeding tickets.”


True enough but the whole problem could have been avoided by Turner doing the ancient ritual of “reading” and decide whether or not his money is better spent somewhere else. Acme and other rental car companies are worried about property destruction, not whether you visit a whorehouse or a pot farm.


Somewhere in the corporate history, Acme decided that GPS would allow them to track everything about their cars. If someone speeds beyond an explicitly stated limit, they will fine them. If someone decides to not return the car, they will remotely disable it. And… not surprisingly… they’ll put it all in black and white in case somebody decides to sue them.


James Turner deserves to lose his case strictly because he agreed to the contract. Whether or not tracking people is “fair” is beside the point here. If Mr. Turbo Turner likes to drive fast, he should have shopped around for a rental car company that doesn’t have the tracking policies of Acme and just about everyone else in the industry.


If Mr. Turner has genuine political convictions against the practices of rental car companies, the Internet is always on and will always be the biggest nightmare of corporate boardrooms. In the meantime, however, eating a little bit of humble pie is in order for the plaintiff.

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