Former Soviet official behind black box "track & tax" of US drivers

The California bureaucrat behind a plan to track vehicles and “tax by the mile” worked as a government transportation planner in the former USSR. Photo: Hasan Ikhratra / File

WASHINGTON, October 30, 2013  — The California bureaucrat behind a big brother plan to track vehicles and “tax by the mile” worked as a government transportation planner in the former USSR.

Hasan Ikhrata, Executive Director of the Southern California Association of Governments (SCAG), who told the Los Angeles Times  “This really is a must for our nation. It is not a matter of something we might choose to do,” worked for the Moscow Metro Corporation, according to his official SCAG biography.

SCAG foresees mandatory tracking of all California motorists by 2025.  A black box tax-by-the-mile pilot program is underway in Oregon and several other states.  Some of the methods Oregon is experimenting with involve using GPS to track miles driven by program participants.

Ikhrata’s former employer Moscow Metro announced plans in July to track the movements of individual passengers on subways by tracking the SIM cards in their mobile phones, even if the phones are powered off, according to RT.  Police operations chief of the Moscow metro, Andrey Mokhov argues that the tactic is legal because “By law, we are not allowed to trace a person without appropriate sanctions…but we can keep track of the property of companies, which is exactly what SIM cards are.” 

Although Ikhrata no longer spends his days working as a Moscow planner, he appears to have imported into California’s sprawling bureaucracy an instinct which runs unchecked inside the iron machinery of the world’s most authoritarian governments:  track, surveil, and ultimately control everything citizens do.

Proponents of the mileage tracking and taxing programs argue that new streams of revenue are needed to pay for roads because Congress refuses to raise federal gas taxes.  Privacy groups fear that the scheme is a Trojan horse which is really designed to track the movements of anyone with a car.  The Tea Party, the ACLU, and privacy groups are raising the alarm over the prospect of governments tracking the movements of Americans in their own vehicles.

According to his SCAG biography, “Mr. Ikhrata holds a Bachelor’s and a Master’s degree in Civil and Industrial Engineering from Zaporozhye University in the former Soviet Union”.

A 2008 SCAG press release announcing the appointment of Ikhrata to the position of Executive Director noted that he was chosen “from a diverse pool of candidates from across the country”,  which was eventually narrowed down to six interviewees. 

At the time of his hiring, Ikhrata was a Ph.D. candidate in Urban Planning and Transportation from the University of Southern California, states the press release.  Based on his current biography at SCAG, it appears that five years later he is still a Ph.D. candidate. 

“Hasan is a longtime resident of San Bernardino County” states the 2008 press release.

SCAG is the largest metropolitan planning organization in the United States, and serves 18,000,000 people living in Imperial County, Los Angeles County, Orange County, Riverside County, San Bernardino County and Ventura County.

 


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Alan Jones

Alan Jones is an investigative journalist covering a wide range of areas.  He has worked in the financial industry and has lived overseas.

 

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