Westfield has sidelined the SMS feature of its ticketless parking system this week due to concerns it breached Australian privacy laws.
Westfield’s newfangled ticketless parking system attempted to make parking quicker and easier for shoppers by scanning car number plates on entry and exit of their carparks, and sending an SMS notification to registered parkers recording their entry time and an alert message when their free parking time was nearly up. To register for the service, users were merely required to provide a name, license plate number and phone number (with no verification).
Privacy experts raised the alarm that any person could register false details and track another person’s physical location via the SMS notifications. This was a particular worry for those in domestic violence situations and could also potentially enable stalking or thieves to determine when homeowners had left their houses. The feature’s Terms and Conditions failed to address any of these issues.
The SMS service is currently suspended as internal investigations are conducted, though the rest of the ticketless parking system and app continue to operate.