Parking in Los Angeles – especially in private paid parking lots – can be a difficult and frustrating experience. That’s why a California-based company called Metropolis Technologies introduced a more efficient procedure – no tickets, no gates, no pay machines. The transaction is handled entirely through the company’s app.

But there’s a catch. Isn’t there always? And this time it’s a pretty big one; the consequences could be anything from having your bank account hacked to putting your life in danger by having your home address easily accessible online.

The price you pay for a little added convenience is providing Metropolis with your name, cell phone number, email address, license plate number and credit card information, as well as the make, model and year of your vehicle. And they may also collect your internet protocol address, which identifies your specific device on information networks, as well as your wireless service provider, browser, operating system and type of phone.

And if you read the fine print on their app, you’ll discover Metropolis also “reserves the right” to monitor “pages that you visit before, during and after” using the company’s online parking validation, as well as “information about the links you click” and “information about the services you use.”

Oh – and they also get access to “cross-device tracking.” That means for the privilege of getting in and out of a parking lot a little more quickly, you’ve now given a corporation access to your browsing activity across different websites, not just from your mobile device but from your tablet and laptop as well.

Can they do this? Sure – just like they can also charge you a “convenience fee” without specifying what that fee will be. It’s all in the terms of service – which of course no one actually reads.

The Los Angeles Times wrote a story about one visitor’s experience to a Metropolis parking lot. When the reporter contacted Metropolis to obtain more information he was directed to an employee that the company would only identify as an unnamed Metropolis spokesperson.

Notice how they protect their own privacy, while invading everyone else’s.

This is How Your Personal Information Ends Up Online

What Metropolis is doing is terrible, and it’s sadly not uncommon. They provide a “service” you pay for – a slightly more efficient way to park your car – and in exchange they take your private information without being upfront about it, and they make money from that as well.

Is saving a few minutes worth that trade-off? If you are a police officer, a judge, or a therapist (among other professions) you are opening up another avenue for your home address and phone number to be accessed online by anyone with a grudge against you. And that can be a very steep price to pay.

We don’t know if parking lot apps are the next battlefront in data collection. But since practically everything else we do these days has an online component, this sort of transaction is hardly surprising anymore – though it remains just as hazardous.

Online privacy protection from IronWall360 is one way to fight back. It finds your personal data online and removes it – whenever and wherever it turns up.

Enroll in Online Privacy Protection

 

Ron Zayas

CEO & Chief Strategist

Ron brings decades of expertise in marketing, advertising and e-commerce strategies to 360Civic. There is not one aspect of any client project that is not enhanced through his experience, insight, and... Read more

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