By on February 21, 2014


A plan to create a database from collected license plate data by the Department of Homeland Security was cancelled after said plans were made known without knowledge from top officials.

AOL Autos reports the plan, which would have sought bids from private companies to build the database, would have helped Immigration and Customs Enforcement in combating criminal activity. Privacy advocates, however, feared such a database would also collect plate data from millions of law-abiding citizens.

Through a statement, the ICE explained that the solicitation was made public without prior knowledge from the department’s top officials:

While we continue to support a range of technologies to help meet our law enforcement mission, this solicitation will be reviewed to ensure the path forward appropriately meets our operational needs.

The method for collecting license plate data — license-plate scanners — is already a subject near and dear to both law enforcement and privacy groups for months, fearing the data could be used to spy on the populace for governmental and business purposes. According to Associated Press, 14 states are working on legislation that would curb the practice.

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22 Comments on “Homeland Security License Plate Data Collection Plan Cancelled...”

  • avatar

    Johnny 5 can now instead focus on his role in Short Circuit 3, which is slated for release in late Nevuary 2015.

  • avatar

    Doesn’t mean the states won’t continue doing it or other agencies are not doing it already. No way around it really. When technology catches up, I am sure you will need to log in everywhere you go whether you want to or not. By embedded micro chip or some other device, it will happen.

    Look at my plate all you want, everyone else does!

    • 0 avatar

      Yeah, various arms of government have been doing this collection for many years, and doubling down since 9/11.

      There are at least two sites close to my location that are tied to Border Patrol posts at US Highways in the middle of the desert that take pictures of traffic in both directions 24/7.

      Anyone who travels the highways and byways of America surely must have seen the camera banks and lonely trailer set up on the side of the road that take pictures of the vehicle’s occupants from the front as well as the license plate numbers from the rear.

  • avatar


    I’ve got enough to worry about with the tinted windows and speed cameras.

  • avatar
    Felix Hoenikker

    This whole idea is vexatious and opprobrious.
    From my recent interactions with EZpass, I can predict that this technology will come under the control of the inept and soft underbelly of law enforcement.
    For every law breaker caught by this technique, there will be at least 10 innocent citizens who are inconvienced or worse. However, there will be no apologies or compensation given for the mistake except for the old cliche “Sorry move on. Nothing to see here”.

    • 0 avatar

      wonderful word “opprobrious” (expressing scorn or criticism)

      it was my impression many western societies have numberplate cameras but they just poll the state database to get unregistered or stolen cars etc.

      they tell us they do not record mass license plates and tag them with metadata (ie. speed, velocity, gps, datestamp, passengers and ID) which is awesome if you want to live in a Minority Report 2054 type world

      but they *could* do it if they wanted too and thats the scary part

      we know the NSA just seems to do stuff at a whim since the Constitution is just a piece of paper

  • avatar
    Land Ark

    “…cancelled after said plans were made known without knowledge from top officials.”

    Interesting wording – sounds more like they are back tracking once they found out someone released the info without their knowledge, not that the plans were happening without their knowledge.
    More likely this was an intentional leak to get the public outrage out of the way so when they implement it in a couple years it’ll be old news and we’ll just shrug and take it like we’ve shrugged and taken everything else. IF you don’t have a problem with corporations and the government watching everything you do on the internet, why would it bother you if they knew where you were physically going?

    The farther we get from the Soviet era in time, the closer we get to its principles.

    • 0 avatar

      They’re “testing” these things down here in Florida around Tampa.I’ve seen them.Linked up with Sunpass and their camera’s,I guess they’ll be able to follow you around the state at will.Ugh.

    • 0 avatar

      After I RTFA, I agree with you that it was precisely political doublespeak. Never once did thesuperiors say they didn’t know it was hapening. They didn’t know the bids were being solicited.

      I think “postponed” would have been a more appropriate word than “cancelled”

  • avatar

    “This whole idea is vexatious and opprobrious”

    you just activated the NSA BIGWORDALERT ALARM mister :)

  • avatar

    I always find these types of articles cute in a sad kind of way.
    If you’ve ever used a credit card in a big box store, they know everything you’ve ever bought there and use it for market research.

    Have a cell phone with an active GPS function? Ever see those prtty signs over the road that tell you the travel time to interchanges? there are third party companies that aggregate your moving device data and sell it to road agencies to calcutate that time.

    Have you ever in your life paid a toll on a road or have an E-ZPass style device? your plate is already on record.

    Homeland tries to put it all in one spreadsheet and people lose their minds thinking that just now (but never before) that their motions can be tracked.

    guess what? you have been tracked for better than a decade, just no one ever told you. We live in a modern age of “don’t ask, don’t tell” but now it’s big data instead gays.

    ‘they’ already know where you came from, where you were going, how fast you were going, what lane you were in and they even know how many people were in the car. (Vehicle occupancy detection is really creepy)

    Please note that this post is explicitly not pro or against, just noting that the things being feared have been here for some time already.

    Have a nice day..

    • 0 avatar

      Have a Nice Day… NSA

    • 0 avatar

      I’m not so worried about private companies doing it. The problem with the government doing it is it concentrates the power in the hands of people who are able to imprison or kill you with no way to stop them short of a revolution. I’m not saying it’d happen any time soon, but eventually there’ll be a combo of hard times and someone ruthless at the helm and the power will be abused.

      • 0 avatar

        I’m just as upset with the ideas of companies doing it as the gov’t. I don’t want to be part of their data mining and ad targeting, period. I don’t want crap mailed to me and I don’t want some company getting information on me and jacking up my insurance even without having any tickets. If I am forced to sign up for discount cards, I always use the name Richard Passwater. Anybody who uses Snapshot from Progressive must be out of their mind.

  • avatar

    And they even have the revolution part covered…

  • avatar

    How long before it emerges that it was “Let’s not cancel it, and say we did”?

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