By on June 28, 2013

Image courtesy CIR

The paperback-size device, installed on the outside of police cars, can log thousands of license plates in an eight-hour patrol shift. Katz-Lacabe said it had photographed his two cars on 112 occasions, including one image from 2009 that shows him and his daughters stepping out of his Toyota Prius in their driveway… At a rapid pace, and mostly hidden from the public, police agencies throughout California have been collecting millions of records on drivers and feeding them to intelligence fusion centers operated by local, state and federal law enforcement.

Intelligence fusion centers?

If you care at all about having any privacy whatsoever from a government that has repeatedly demonstrated an unquenchable thirst for your personal information, I strongly recommend you take a moment to read CIR’s piece on motorist surveillance. It contains too many chilling and repugnant facts and quotes to reprint here. The bottom line is that police have stepped-up their automated surveillance of law-abiding citizens to the point where it is possible for them to reconstruct peoples’ lives by looking at their records. The funds to undertake this surveillance and store it in expensive server rooms appears to be limitless — even as cities like Oakland have a 13,000-case backlog facing the single officer tasked with investigating burglaries.

In California and across the country, the response given to victims of crime is increasingly “We don’t care”, “Call your insurance company”, or “Just go to the hospital”. They can threaten a teenager with a year in jail for wearing a particular shirt but they don’t have the time to respond to stolen vehicle or burglary calls. Increasingly, the police have found that it is easier, more expedient, and safer to simply lean on regular citizens for minor violations than it is to respond to, or prevent, violent crime.

There are legitimate benefits to wide-scale plate reading. If properly anonymised, the data could revolutionize the science of traffic management and urban planning. Imagine being able to plug 100 million “trips” into a computer and immediately see which roads are under and over utilized at every time of the day. There are real and useful things that can happen when the data is handled properly. But the way it’s currently being handled is anything but proper, and with the increasing number of public-private partnerships in California, it’s not beyond the scope of reason to suggest that eventually it will be possible to purchase travel records for a particular license plate.

In a perfect world, Something Would Be Done about this — but in a country where everybody’s already stopped worrying about the NSA’s documented surveillance of American citizens, who’s going to bother fighting back against license-plate readers? The answer is likely to be “nobody at all”. But if anyone does take it up as a cause, expect to see them marginalized as “teatards” or “Occupy freaks” posthaste. After all, if you’re obeying the law, you have nothing to fear from increased surveillance. Keep telling yourself that.

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96 Comments on “Lock Up Your Daughters, Because The Cops Are Looking At Them (And Everything Else)...”


  • avatar
    hp

    “Increasingly, the police have found that it is easier, more expedient, and safer to simply lean on regular citizens for minor violations than it is to respond to, or prevent, violent crime.”

    That’s been true a long time, they don’t care at all about the public, just setting up easy cases for the DA and collecting fines. The police, the biggest gang in the world.

    • 0 avatar
      stuki

      The fact that anyone would find it surprising that people choose to do that which is “easier, more expedient and safer”, is about as solid a testament to the success of pervasive publicly funded indoctrination as one can find. But, but, but…. the man on my TV channel said gommiment good now…. Idiots. Soon to be exterminated; thank goodness.

    • 0 avatar

      Police can’t protect me. THEY ARE AFTER-THE-FACT-EVIDENCE-GATHERERS. My protection is a Kimber .45 and a vest.

    • 0 avatar
      CelticPete

      The problem is that it was always legal to tail people on public roads. So automating it is not illegal. It’s just an easier way to do the same thing. It’s the same deal with planting GPS data.

      OTOH the NSA uses google and the rest to spy on people in their private homes doing things that we have an expectation of privacy for. Thats where I draw the line..

      • 0 avatar
        GS650G

        Automating it may not be illegal but it isn’t legal either. The state can’t do whatever it wants, or what it’s employees want. A legislature exists to define what the state can do and how we pay for it. I’d like to see the laws this operates under and how it’s justified.
        The example of a cop reading a tag being no different from scanning 10000 tags and storing metadata such as location, date, time, speed, and linking it back to the owner before cross referencing it against several databases and developing keys used for pattern recognition and data mining is a bit of a stretch.
        Find me a human that can do all that while driving a car and eating a donut and I’ll rest my case.

        • 0 avatar
          CelticPete

          What you are saying kinda makes sense. It’s just hard to intellectually argue that automating something makes it illegal.

          Let’s say the cops hired a gazillion more cops and started following everyone around. It’s perfectly legal.

          Automation does the same thing – and allows cops to do their jobs better. As far as the courts go (and incidentally I don’t put much stock in this) the court says its legal. Automating things is in fact legal.

          The courts however have become tools of the state and will bend even obviously non-relevant laws to fit the constitution.

          For example I happen to be pro choice. But I see no indication anywhere that the constitution enforces this rule. I am not saying the constitution makes abortion illegal either. It just says nothing about it.

      • 0 avatar

        Driving is not a right – it is a privilege. The word privacy is never mentioned in the Constitution. What we know of privacy is extrapolated from the fourth amendment. We don’t have the right to fly on an airplane either. If the government especially the state government decides that it wants to use this type of technology on the police cars there’s nothing you can do about it.

        • 0 avatar
          ruckover

          I hate this belief. A privilege may be revoked for any reason, this cannot be done. A person has a right to own property; a person has a right to travel on public streets, roads, and highways. This means a person has a right to drIve.

          • 0 avatar
            dts187

            Sorry ruckover, I think you’re terribly wrong on this one.

            These public roads are financed by us but owned/managed by some form of government. They get to decide the usage rules. That’s why we have licenses, registrations, vehicle inspections, speed limits, etc. We have no right to these roads. They are a privilege that we pay for. If we don’t like those rules, we have measures to get them changed (though a tough and time consuming process).

          • 0 avatar
            danio3834

            It’s a right up until the point you rescind that right, which most do voluntarily.

        • 0 avatar
          msquare

          I think people believe driving is a privilege because it can be rescinded. I believe it is a right because even though you have to meet qualifications to be licensed, if you meet them you cannot be denied.

          And the right cannot be rescinded without some form of due process of law. You have to be convicted of breaking the law somehow. Therefore it’s just like voting. You have age and residency requirements to meet before you can cast a ballot but you can’t lose the right without due process, and in some countries, not at all.

  • avatar
    gslippy

    Gee, such data could help to properly amortize road taxes across the population, so we could quit fighting about gas taxes, GPS surveillance techniques, and revoking EV rebates to make everything fair.

    Yikes.

    • 0 avatar
      LeMansteve

      Blasphemy! Tracking my usage to determine how much I owe is…you know …illegalamendmentsthiscountrywasfoundedonfreedom’muricatoomuchgovtisbad!

  • avatar
    99GT4.6

    Whatever happened to “innocent until proven guilty?” This surveillance of innocent citizens is going way too far.

    • 0 avatar
      quiksilver180

      I personally think “innocent until proven guilty” went out the window a long time ago, sadly. People want security and safety, but it costs freedom.

  • avatar
    tbone33

    To me this raises three questions:
    1. Is this the best use of police resources?
    2. Can I trust law enforcement organizations to not use this data for nefarious purposes or profit?
    3. Can I trust law enforcement officers to not use this data for nefarious purposes or profit?

    I need more information, no, and no are my answers.

    • 0 avatar
      econobiker

      4. Can I trust law enforcement to not use this data for benign purposes or profit?

      I can see this info being sold and brokered like our credit histories are currently sold and brokered. “But since it is publicly accessible information, we have every right to monetize it by selling the information to automobile sales data mining companies, car insurance companies, etc…”

  • avatar
    CJinSD

    http://www.newsadvance.com/news/local/article_d8ae33e0-dfeb-11e2-8866-0019bb30f31a.html

    This story came to my attention today. There have been plenty of attacks on women in parking lots around Charlottesville in recent months, so local law enforcement is responding by allocating resources to attack women in parking lots.

    • 0 avatar
      econobiker

      Shouldn’t the law enforcement be able to source NSA records to cross reference the guy whose cell phone pings towers around the crime areas?

    • 0 avatar
      Piston Slap Yo Mama

      Speaking of law enforcement at odds with attacks on women, tens of thousands of rape kits have gone untested while the police focus on the low hanging fruit of shaking down law-abiding citizens for minor infractions. Obviously there’s no profit in solving rape crimes. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/news/untested-rape-kits

      Thanks Jack for posting this, I’m devoutly anti-Big Brother and am completely dismayed at the complacency most people feel about it. For the record, I’d rather flip burgers than be a cop.

    • 0 avatar
      AJ

      Poor girls. Just the wrong place and some legalized thugs take them down. Wow, what tough guys they were! Beating up on college girls. However do they justify themselves when they go home at night? &$*#@#!

  • avatar
    CliffG

    Well, the excuse has always been: “If you are not doing anything wrong, you have nothing to worry about”. My question is: “If I am not doing anything wrong, why are you watching me?”

    • 0 avatar
      hp

      What sucks the most is the hardworking tax payers, are paying to be watched and fined occasionally, while the drain on society criminals are left to do whatever because they cops don’t want to do any real work.

      • 0 avatar
        stuki

        What really sucks is that the vast majority of hardworking tax payers, are so thoroughly indoctrinated, that they think their only defense against the tiny minority of drain on society criminals, is to bend over for a bunch of even more hardened and well funded criminals, that promise to make them safe from the others of that kind.

        Cops not investigating burglaries is just a big “whatever”, as log as they are not taxing you to supposedly do so, and are not actively intervening on behalf of the burglar when you decide to just shoot him. Cops are just government employees. Tax feeders. No different than any other unionized government employee. The fewer you have of them, the better.

        • 0 avatar
          jimbob457

          Same thing is true of firemen. Just don’t have a fire.

          • 0 avatar

            A pretty good percentage of Americans are protected by their neighbors, volunteer fire departments, not public employees.

          • 0 avatar
            stuki

            Most firemen won’t come after you for using an illegal, black pistol gripped firehouse, should you decide to just splash some water on the fire yourself. Hope I’m not giving them any ideas for alternate revenue streams here……

          • 0 avatar
            CJinSD

            Where I live, firefighters have to deal with traffic calming and bizarre hiring barriers that mean that they’re on duty for about 3 weeks at a time. Hopefully, they won’t cause any harm while arriving to fill out their incident reports. It’s a terrible waste when they do. On the plus side, they make more money in six months than many doctors do in a year. Meet a few retired firefighters that are less than 50 and look 30 while owning bay-front homes, and you’ll question assumptions about the value of detailed reports about total losses.

    • 0 avatar
      econobiker

      It will end when some politician is caught doing bad things (cheating on spouse, criminal business deals, etc) via a license plate scan discovered by a member of the public not law enforcement (who can be bent by the politicos)…

      • 0 avatar
        stuki

        Politicians and their friends and benefactors, will have their records scrubbed. The man on TV that all well indoctrinated progresssives have been told to listen to, say that those guys are important, and pillars of the community, after all. And, besides, they run the system; so it shouldn’t come as a surprise that it is run for their benefit.

    • 0 avatar
      GS650G

      If you think you have nothing to worry about, don’t worry. They will think of something you did and be happy to explain it to you once you are in custody.

  • avatar
    carinator

    Well, one reason it is legal for the cops to do this is you have no expectation of privacy in your front yard, largely thanks to the acceptance of Google’s street view maps.

    Google is in the sell-your-data business, whether you are a criminal or not. All of you civil libertarians should think about that next time you use Google, or any Google product. Then squeal about being tracked by the police.

    • 0 avatar
      stuki

      Difference is, whatever Google does to me, I can do to Google. Which makes it OK. Symmetry is good, as it is the only thing that prevents master-slave relationships. Wrt government, they can arm themselves much differently than I can. Creating power relationship asymmetry. Which is always and everywhere simply a more PC way of referring to slavery.

  • avatar
    LeMansteve

    I am on the “If you’re obeying the law, you have nothing to fear from increased surveillance” side of the fence. Hopefully systems like this will benefit society more than they will restrict our freedoms. There will always be a tug-of-war between convenience/safety and privacy. I kind of think it’s ironic that we don’t want the largest set of numbers and letters on our car to be tracked.

    • 0 avatar
      krhodes1

      I’m right there with you. I have absolutely nothing to hide in my life, AT ALL. Open book. Take my picture, follow me around, I guarantee I will be lost in the noise.

      I seem to have not been born with the typical American paranoia gene. Maybe I can thank my African father for that?

      • 0 avatar
        gslippy

        American paranoia was well-founded 250 years ago, long before electronic surveillance was invented. The nations of the world would do well to emulate it.

        • 0 avatar
          CJinSD

          The idea that it is better not to worry about governments when so many of them have committed atrocities against the people they were supposed to represent and sustain is hilarious. Sometimes even in Africa.

          • 0 avatar
            krhodes1

            There is a big difference between tinpot dictatorships and the freely elected government of the US. You know, the one that WE vote into power every few years. Don’t like the government, vote for someone else. You DO vote, right?

            I simply don’t buy into the meme that the government can do no right, popular though it is.

    • 0 avatar
      eamiller

      The problem with that line of thinking is that even the most law abiding citizen likely breaks the law every day without knowing it.

      If the government has access to a huge pile of automated data, it becomes relatively easy to find examples of “innocent law breaking” for just about anyone.

    • 0 avatar
      gslippy

      Ankle bracelets are placed on CRIMINALS for a reason.

      There is no need to track innocent citizens except for “pre-crimes” or manufacturing of charges against them.

      Your ‘nothing to hide’ sense of security depends on who’s watching you and their interpretation of your activities. You think you bought fertilizer and diesel fuel for your yard and tractor; I think you’re making a WMD.

      • 0 avatar
        shaker

        You’ve highlighted the problem perfectly – with all of this data, and not enough budget to hire people to make sense of it, it’s not impossible that innocents could end up under arrest, with ‘the burden of truth’ upon THEM.

        That’s just not fair.

    • 0 avatar
      darkwing

      It’s cute that you think, in spite of well-documented evidence to the contrary, that not only is the data collected secure, but the politicized civil servants with access to it will only use it for appropriate purposes.

    • 0 avatar
      mikedt

      yes, but as more than a few people have pointed out in the past, there are so many laws on the books that even the most law abiding citizen is guilty of something pretty much every day of their lives. The only thing that has prevented them from being fined or arrested up to this point is the cost of finding them. Eliminate or lower that cost enough and you’ll find a summons/ticket/fine in your mail every day.

      • 0 avatar
        GS650G

        As our friends in the UK are finding out. They track trash cans to see if you throw out too much and scan your house with FLIR to see if you waste energy. And that’s the civil stuff, operating a vehicle is an entirely different game.

  • avatar
    Charliej

    Reading all this crap, I am so glad to live outside the US. I know that they can still spy on me, but now they have to put a little more effort into it. We are constantly told about how broke the government is. Stop all this spying and save how many billions of dollars. I am an old man. I can remember when the US was actually a free country. I am so sorry that the American people have let government take their rights from them. I never thought that it would happen in my lifetime.

    • 0 avatar
      highdesertcat

      Essentially, this is the 21st century version of Nazi-ism, only under the guise of “doing it to protect the citizenry”.

      As we all know, snitching and keeping an eye on our neighbors and co-workers is actively encouraged at all levels in these United States. Reporting them is even more desirable, as we learned from the news media shortly after Snowden made these surveillance acts public.

      As a military man I believe that what Snowden did is a despicable act, yet I can also understand his discomfort with our government of the people, by the people and for the people, now socking it to the people. A government interpretation of data gathered by such surveillance ensures that the accused is guilty until proven innocent.

      Big brother is here. Be aware of it at all times and live your life accordingly. Paying your way in cash and keeping a low profile is a good start.

      I live in an area adjacent to an Air Force base where they train the Drone operators and I see the Drones fly overhead daily. I am certain that my humble homestead is one of the landmarks for them to guide on because of its unique size and appearance in this barren desert.

      It’s not something you get used to because each time you hear the engine of these toy airplanes you look up, right into the camera.

  • avatar
    OneAlpha

    More proof that despite its claims of legitimacy, The State is, always has been and always will be, simply the most powerful criminal gang in a given geographic area.

    Remember, the three favorite phrases of totalitarians are:

    1 – The law is the law.
    2 – I’m just doing my job.
    3 – If you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear.

  • avatar
    cpthaddock

    When I relocated to the US (a lot of years ago), I used to wonder how the US population would respond to the kind of blanket CCTV surveillance present in the UK.

    These days, I feel I have the answer to that question.

    Whatever side of the arguments you’re on, the ultimate question that demands a completely satisfactory answer is “Who watches the watchers”.

  • avatar
    reclusive_in_nature

    If the aim is really to fight crime (which it likely isn’t) I can think of a much more effective means of doing so that doesn’t involve increasingly invasive surveillance.

    For every crime that results in a fine or seizure of property give the person who reported the infraction half of it. Here’s some examples:

    A person sees a motorist driving dangerously. They report the motorist’s license plate number to the police. If/when law enforcement catches the person in the act of breaking law they’ll make the traffic stop, and if a fine is levied, the person who reported it will be given half of it. (Only AFTER the perp has paid.)
    OR
    An employee reports his employer for hiring illegal aliens. The authorities investigate and find it to be true. A fine is levied. The whistleblower would get half and the enforcing agency would get half.

    Giving citizens incentive to report crimes would be much more effective than the wasted resources involved in surveiling everyone and everything 24/7. Yes, there would likely be abuses, but the alternative is much more dangerous and intrusive.

    • 0 avatar
      jjf

      Do you really want to line in a society where the whole population is incentivized to take money from you for each mistake? The sounds like a living hell, and would be a nice addition to all the surveillance. A government citizen minder program did not work out that well in East Germany.

      I hope you are being sarcastic. Please don’t give them any ideas.

    • 0 avatar

      This is the worst idea ever. You want to give everyone/anyone a reason to have you illegaly searched?

      What’s your address?

      • 0 avatar
        CoreyDL

        Yes, turn every citizen into a spy for other citizens. Let’s make everyone self-conscious and uncomfortable at every opportunity! Worst idea I’ve seen in a month.

        • 0 avatar
          highdesertcat

          It’s disingenuous to complain about how our society is turning out. We voted for this.

          We have no one to blame but ourselves for the predicament we find ourselves in.

          I’m not plugging any political agenda here. What I am saying is that America always gets exactly what it deserves because we vote for it.

          These are all self-inflicted wounds.

          • 0 avatar
            krhodes1

            @HighDesertCat

            My sentiments exactly. We get the government we vote for. This is not a dictatorship, you can EASILY vote them out. Or vote in those who think the way you do.

  • avatar
    Summicron

    Meh.
    If you’re not rich why bother with you?
    If you’re rich you can buy your way out.

    This is just the vendor-frenzy of the Bush wars coming home to join the limping survivors of our big iron computer services.

    They’ll waste historic amounts of money without harming a single hair or interrupting a vacation of anyone reading TTAC.

    • 0 avatar
      danio3834

      “If you’re not rich why bother with you?”

      The war on drugs mostly. The vast majority of prison inmates certainly aren’t/weren’t wealthy by any means.

  • avatar
    wsimon

    Apparently George Orwell was off by about 29 years.

  • avatar
    Halftruth

    You are and will be guilty until proven guilty. This overreach is worldwide, so don’t kid yourselves that the US is the only one in the game. I have been in IT since the 90s and have seen the government load up on the latest and greatest repeatedly. And tons of it at that. Why?
    For fun? Suuuuure.. “but I have nothing to hide.” And you would be correct. Until they concoct something, anything that results in charges against you.

    Thru out history, man has had an insatiable desire to lord over his fellow man. This is no different. Don’t worry though, thing will get worse before they get worse.

  • avatar
    Halftruth

    You are and will be guilty until proven guilty. This overreach is worldwide, so don’t kid yourselves that the US is the only one in the game. I have been in IT since the 90s and have seen the government load up on the latest and greatest repeatedly. And tons of it at that. Why? For fun? Suuuuure.. “but I have nothing to hide.” And you would be correct. Until they concoct something, anything that results in charges against you.

    Thru out history, man has had an insatiable desire to lord over his fellow man. This is no different. Don’t worry though, things will get worse before they get worse.

    And George Orwell would have been spot on if he said those same things 100 or 500 years ago.
    That’s humanity for you.

    • 0 avatar
      Summicron

      “I have been in IT since the 90s and have seen the government load up on the latest and greatest repeatedly.”

      Then you know better than anyone that the purchasing cycle starts with Barney Fife and ends with Pointy-Haired Boss. Orwell isn’t a player.

      But if he’d hung around long enough he’d have seen that even Big Brother is helpless against the stupid and the venal.

      They safeguard our humanity.

  • avatar
    GS650G

    Interestingly enough many police departments don’t like to be videotaped. I would think they would welcome the opportunity to show their professionalism and dedication to the law. But no. It’s usually called interfering with an investigation or illegal wiretapping if a microphone is used. Even reporters get hazed over it.

    • 0 avatar
      danio3834

      That is a very good point. Most officers detest being filmed while on duty, in public no less. Many establishments of law enforcement ban the use of recording devices as well.

      Why isn’t the “if you’ve got nothing to hide…” argument reciprocal?

  • avatar
    canddmeyer

    This is way old news. Sacramento PD has been using this for a long time. Mostly they drive shopping centers looking for vehicles reported stolen. When they get a hit the vehicle is staked out. A good percentage of the time they get the bad guy, who usually has stolen merchandise and credit cards from other crimes. I’m all for this.

    Can it be misused? Sure it can, but the cops don’t have that kind of time in Sacramento. They don’t care about unregistered vehicles, just stolen ones.

  • avatar
    jim brewer

    I like the idea of the police being able to massively scan license plates and search for stolen cars. I don’t understand the complaint that this somehow inconveniences law abiding citizens or is some kind of speed trap type scam.

    I don’t know why they have to keep this information for more than a week, let alone 60 days, or turn it into some kind of high tech metadata spying operation.

    • 0 avatar
      Luke42

      The question is what they do with the scan results.

      Which one seems better to you?

      A) check the license plate against a list of cars reported stolen or involved I’m AMBER alerts, and then throw the days away?

      B) Everything in A), plus secretly forward it to a spy agencies for massive pattern matching and to build a security-score for every American. Like a credit score, except we don’t know our own score or what the rules are to “keep our noses clean”.

      Which one strikes you as acceptable in terms of American culture?

      Would your answer change if B turned out to be effective in catching the worst bad guys?

      The answer to the first question is easy.

      The second one is more difficult, if you suppose that the effort is largely effective. From the math and computer science perspectives, there’s every reason to think that this kind of spying is effective in catching bad guys. But, as an American, though, it contradicts my values and my patriotism. I wish I had a good answer.

  • avatar
    DenverMike

    Screw ‘em. I keep my dealer paper (vinyl) plates over my real plates 100% of the time. The handful of times I’ve been pulled over in the last 20 years, I tear off the paper plates in front of the cop and he/she drives away. And The dealer keeps giving me new ones.

    I could be driving a 20 year old truck I just bought from X dealer… How would they know? The key is to keep getting new fluorescent plates as soon as they start to fade. Or the whites turn yellow. The dealer doesn’t mind. Free advertisement.

    • 0 avatar
      quiksilver180

      So you cover your plates up completely until you’re “required” to remove them by a cop? Do you show any sort of permanent (or temporary) license info when they are covered?

      If that works for you, that’s pretty cool. I’d be interested in doing that, but I know my local California cops can be a pain… never know until you try though.

      • 0 avatar
        DenverMike

        You have to play it off like you just bought it. You can’t show any signs of neglect or even excess brake dust. Tire shine, always. Of course, with no state plates showing and leave that folded over ‘temp’ paper on the windshield.

        It would take a cop with a sharp eye to snuff you out, but most don’t really care, even with faded and yellowing paper plates, if you’re driving right. But any, so called “grace period” can be revoked at will. Even on an obviously, brand new car. Like at 2AM when you’re leaving the bar.

        • 0 avatar
          quiksilver180

          Gotcha, in Oregon and California we have temp stickers with a large expiration date on it, which won’t work. Also California lets you not have plates on for either 3 or 6 months from new purchase date, which is nice.

          • 0 avatar
            DenverMike

            The temp stickers won’t save you from getting stopped. A cop cannot read the small print and may stop you to get a better look. You’re better off not drawing attention to yourself and going without. Get the temp sticker, but don’t display it. You’re better off with expired tags, dealer advertise plates or no state plates at all.

            California doesn’t ‘officially’ give new car purchases 3 or 6 months. And they can pull anyone over for anything other California plates. Although they usually don’t.

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            That wouldn’t work in Ohio, they’re clearly marked with dates here.

  • avatar
    Big Al from Oz

    I don’t support spying on citizens in any country, unless there is good cause. But the reality is to continually spy on over 300 million people in the US is a bit far fetched. Data is collected, yes. But spying no.

    Data might be getting collected, but data is always and has always been collected for decades, centuries even.

    Has anyone heard of the Doomsday Book?

    Since the 60s satellites have been collecting data on other countries, even spy planes were used since planes were invented. In the 70s satellites were able to detect drug crops by using UV detection.

    By the 80s as computers became more automated more and more data is collected and stored.

    Lots of people complain about big brother when a significant number spill their lives on Facebook and even sites like this.

    I would be more concerned on how you use your existing communication equipment rather than a car photographing your front yard. I would be more worried what your daughter is doing on Facebook and her smart phone.

    There isn’t enough resources to use this data on society. Recognition software will detect what it is programmed to detect. I would think that not much is detected.

    The police would have a good indication of crime gangs and syndicates. If this technology is as good as some are trying to infer, why do these groups still exist?

    No, I don’t think its a real threat for society, but still I do think there should be a limit set on how the data is used.

  • avatar
    George B

    I’ve wondered what it would cost to install a license plate reading system on my fence in the alley. It would be pretty easy to make a system that learns which license plate numbers frequently occur in the alley, neighbors, and which ones are new. Make it play audio of big dogs barking for unfamiliar plates to discourage stopping and capture video of the unfamiliar car. The big question is if a burglary occurred and I catch a potential suspect on video, would the police bother to follow up on the lead?

    To be fair, local police searched through hours of store parking lot surveillance video to solve a hit-and-run damage to a friend’s >10 year old Camry. Pretty good level of effort for a non-violent crime.

    • 0 avatar
      DenverMike

      Most dogs can recognize neighbours and familiar cars and ONLY bark at strange cars. Probably all dogs can, but have different or individual dispositions.

      The technology is definitely there to read plates and play a recording, but why not give the real thing a shot while rescuing a loving mutt from the animal shelter?

  • avatar
    IllumFiati

    Guess how much revenue is generated by solving Burglary? Robbery? Property Crimes? None – agencies don’t generate revenue by solving crime, they only placate the tax paying public.

    Guess how much revenue is generated by LPR’s (License Plate Readers) and Traffic Cops? A lot. I sold software to traffic officers that allowed motorcycle cops to write at least 6 – 10 tickets an hour, for a full shift (6 hours). No paperwork, all by mobile device and a portable printer. $1000 minimum per hour per officer, 10 officers – $60,000 per day.

    In Washington State, there were 247,364 property crimes last year. 34,392 arrests. 14% of the cases had arrests. Enough said.

  • avatar
    David Hester

    If you’re actually interested in how the system really works and how the data is used in real life as opposed to the in the fevered imaginations of libertarians, Car and Driver was on this story two years ago:

    http://www.caranddriver.com/features/smile-your-cars-on-camera-we-ride-along-to-learn-what-the-cops-know-about-you-feature

    Theoretically there are lots of things that Big Brother could do. In the real world, an application has to be practical in order to be widely used. Plate readers cost upwards of $16,000 per unit, which is a hell of a lot of money to blow on these things when you can get a fleet- priced Dodge Charger V-6 for a little over $18K. A department might justify having 5- 10% of it’s fleet equipped with these things, but it’s too expensive to equip all the cars, which is what would have to happen in order to make the Alex Jones fanboys’ darkest nightmares come true.

    Reality. It seems like it’s getting harder and harder for folks to keep sight of it.

    • 0 avatar
      olddavid

      David, I am well over retirement age, drive cars that are somewhat upmarket, live in a semi-rural county of only 55,000 people, yet have been pulled over twice by these devices. Both times due to problems with previous owners of the car. In cash-strapped Oregon, with an inherent bias as well as a small state police force, for this to have happened speaks to a more widespread use than you would indicate.

    • 0 avatar
      danio3834

      Economies of scale dictate that as these devices become more popular with more manufacturers emulating them, eventually their price will fall to a point where they can/will become standard equipment. The potential here for misuse/revenue exploitation is great. So what you’re really saying is that we don’t necessarily have anything to be worried about…just yet.

  • avatar
    AJ

    I was pulled over for what I’m positive to this day was fishing, and I was lied to over the stop. When I wasn’t what the cop expected (a young punk), I was sent on way with a warning. I’m a rather law and order kind of guy, so to this day it still bothers me.

  • avatar
    Galaxy Flyer

    I disagree with the whole idea that driving, flying or travel, in general, is a privilege, not a right. If true, leaving your house is now controllable by government decree? Are we all just a pi**ed cop away from being under house arrest? We didn’t t register horses, nor license horse riders, how has freedom been so twisted to mean travel is only at the pleasure of some bureaucrat’s discretion?

    GF

    • 0 avatar
      rudiger

      “Are we all just a pi**ed cop away from being under house arrest?”

      Yes. Yes, we are. It might later be summarily dismissed in court, but a pi**ed cop can (and will) certainly make anyone’s life miserable for a period of time (and teach you a lesson in the process, too). And it won’t be a career criminal they do it to, either. It will be the ordinary citizen, the easy, soft target, the ones who ‘have nothing to hide, so have nothing to fear’.

      Such is now life in the USA.

  • avatar
    TheOtherLew

    The public radio program “On The Media” covered license plate reading a year ago. They found that, in Minnesota, the situation was even worse, in that anyone was free to look up the data on anyone else:

    http://www.onthemedia.org/2012/aug/24/license-plate-readers-and-your-privacy/transcript/

  • avatar
    Johnny Canada

    “Increasingly, the police have found that it is easier, more expedient, and safer to simply lean on regular citizens for minor violations than it is to respond to, or prevent, violent crime”.

    100% correct. There’s no money in solving crimes. Harassing straight citizens is now an essential revenue stream for unionized cops. Oh, but it’s for the children…


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