- The Washington Times - Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Privacy advocates are alarmed, but Oregon lawmakers seem poised to pursue a new plan that taxes drivers by the number of miles they travel, rather than by the amount of fuel they feed into their vehicles.

The new policy subs out the 30-cents-a-gallon gas tax and implements a 1.5 cents-per-mile tax, Fox News reported.

But one major concern from the personal privacy advocacy camp: What gives government the right to track its citizens?

“It would force us to surrender our privacy,” said Mark Perry, a scholar with the American Enterprise Institute, in McClatchy Newspapers. “Each day more and more of us are required to tell government agencies more and more about ourselves. Do we really want the government collecting data about driving habits?”

The tax-by-mile policy is due to go into effect in 2015 – but initially, on a volunteer basis, Fox News reported. Policy wonks say it won’t take long before that voluntary status switches to mandatory, bringing with it a range of problems.

Some other concerns, aside from privacy fears: Those who pay for alternative fuel vehicles, or electronic cars, “won’t be running to sign up” for the pay-by-mile plan, one Oregon state official said, in Fox News. And gas guzzling car owners are seen as getting a free pass with taxes, another state official said.

Still, gains in alternatively fueled vehicles are leaving states with the desire to find other ways of raising revenue, outside of gas taxes. A dozen other states have tried the same plan, in pilot form, Fox News said.