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Privacy Concerns Arise over Annapolis, Md., Parking Website

After city officials were notified about the lack of security on a parking website, security measures were added to help protect citizens' information.

by Chase Cook, The Capital, Annapolis, Md. / June 9, 2016

(TNS) -- Annapolis resident Linda Farrell was excited to use the city's new online residential parking website.

But when she opened the online form, she noticed her web browser telling her the website wasn't secure. This after asking for her address, vehicle license plate and driver's license number — information she felt was personal.

"I just think residents need to be aware that when they are putting their information out there, it is not secured," she said Wednesday.

The website, www.annapolisparking.com, allows residents to apply for residential parking permits online and launched Monday. Farrell and others have raised concerns about the website, a portion of which didn't have additional encryption security on a web page that collected personal information.

SP+ Municipal Services, the Chicago-based parking management company running the website, has since added the additional security on the website Wednesday afternoon after officials heard the concerns and received a call from the mayor's office.

There was no breach of personal information, officials said.

The site launched without it as officials didn't think the information collected needed the additional security. So, they offered the security protection only on the web page that collected credit card and payment information.

Once those concerns were heard, the certificate was added, said Chris Sherman, senior vice president for SP+.

"Because that information did not include payment information, we had not secured that page," he said. "The initial thought is it wasn't necessary information."

This security protection is called Secure Sockets Layer and can be seen on Google Chrome browsers when it shows a lock next to the website address. It's an encryption tool that establishes secure connections between a user's web browser and the organization's website. It's commonly used when websites collect sensitive information.

Since the site went live Monday, about 250 people have applied for residential parking permits.

SP+ has been moving Annapolis' parking into the digital era with a phone app to locate parking and paying for parking through phones.

Before the website, residential district parkers would have to apply for the permit in person at the Noah Hillman Garage located next to City Hall. The method is still available for those not wishing to use the website.

"We appreciate the fact they moved so quickly and increased security within a few hours," said Rhonda Wardlaw, mayor spokeswoman.

©2016 The Capital (Annapolis, Md.) Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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