The Truth About Cars » ACLU http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. Sat, 01 Aug 2015 18:00:20 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=4.2.2 The Truth About Cars is dedicated to providing candid, unbiased automobile reviews and the latest in auto industry news. The Truth About Cars no The Truth About Cars editors@ttac.com editors@ttac.com (The Truth About Cars) 2006-2009 The Truth About Cars The Truth About Cars » ACLU http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/wp-content/themes/ttac-theme/images/logo.gif http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com While You Were Sleeping: Virginia vs ACLU, Indy 500 Throwback and Helicopter Parents Are Taking Over Cars http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/sleeping-virginia-vs-aclu-indy-500-throwback-helicopter-parents-taking-cars/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/05/sleeping-virginia-vs-aclu-indy-500-throwback-helicopter-parents-taking-cars/#comments Thu, 07 May 2015 10:14:56 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=1063290 Virginia is for lovers of license plate readers. Virginia Man Sues Police Over License Plate Database (Wired) “Harrison Neal, a Fairfax resident, filed the suit after learning that his license plate had been scanned by an automatic license plate reader twice last year and stored in a police database, even though he was not a […]

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Virginia Welcomes You To Get Nailed Like A Pedo For Speeding

Virginia is for lovers of license plate readers.

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ACLU: Drug Enforcement Administration Tracking Plates Since 2008 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/aclu-drug-enforcement-administration-tracking-plates-since-2008/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/01/aclu-drug-enforcement-administration-tracking-plates-since-2008/#comments Wed, 28 Jan 2015 12:00:09 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=989522 It’s not just auto lenders and police who track plates: The Drug Enforcement Administration has collected 343 million records since 2008. According to the American Civil Liberties Union, the DEA’s National License Plate Recognition program has at least 100 license plate readers deployed by the agency in states such as California, New Jersey and Georgia, […]

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License Plate Reader Mounted On Police Car

It’s not just auto lenders and police who track plates: The Drug Enforcement Administration has collected 343 million records since 2008.

According to the American Civil Liberties Union, the DEA’s National License Plate Recognition program has at least 100 license plate readers deployed by the agency in states such as California, New Jersey and Georgia, with local, state and other federal law enforcement agencies contributing information to the DEA’s database. One collaboration with U.S. Customs and Border Patrol brought in 793.5 million license plate numbers at land border crossings between May 2009 and May 2013, the latter agency sharing its information “at regular intervals” with the former, as well as with anyone with a vested interest, such as prosecutors and local law enforcement.

The program, which currently retains “non-hit” data for six months, is meant to target roadways “commonly used for contraband transport,” a statement the ACLU finds unclear, since every roadway could be used for said transport. The group goes further, stating that the DEA may be using this belief “to target people of color,” though the heavily redacted information obtained by its FOIA request leaves such answers in doubt.

Other key findings include the program’s primary goal of asset forfeiture, and the usage of plate data to determine travel patterns. The ACLU believes more information is needed about the program regarding the civil liberties of all who travel in the United States and pass through the country’s borders, and is seeking transparency from the DEA to answer questions about where the agency receives its data, how it collects the data, whether or not it uses private databases to conduct operations, and whether or not the program has actually done its job in ensuring the safety of the American populace.

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ACLU Challenges Arrests For Headlight-Flashing To Warn Of Speed-Traps http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/aclu-challenges-arrests-headlight-flashing-warn-speed-traps/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2014/12/aclu-challenges-arrests-headlight-flashing-warn-speed-traps/#comments Tue, 30 Dec 2014 14:00:05 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=964786 There is more wacky traffic enforcement news coming out of Missouri this month than any other state. Last week, the Missouri attorney general began proceedings to shut down the ability of thirteen speed-trap-infested towns to generate excessive revenue from traffic tickets. Also last week, the cities of O’Fallon, Lake Saint Louis and St. Peters filed suit against St. Charles County saying […]

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Traffic stop courtesy northescambia.com

There is more wacky traffic enforcement news coming out of Missouri this month than any other state. Last week, the Missouri attorney general began proceedings to shut down the ability of thirteen speed-trap-infested towns to generate excessive revenue from traffic tickets. Also last week, the cities of O’Fallon, Lake Saint Louis and St. Peters filed suit against St. Charles County saying its residents illegally voted for a ban on red light cameras. The suit actually admitted that the rationale was the potential loss of revenue rather than due to any safety concerns. Even better, the former mayor of St. Peters was convicted in 2006 of accepting cash kickbacks from a red light camera company. (For a truly astounding list of government officials who have been caught taking bribes from photo enforcement companies, go here.)

The big story is that the Missouri ACLU is going after the police department in the Kansas City suburb of Grain Valley for issuing tickets to motorists who tried to warn other drivers of speed-traps by flashing their headlights or high beams. My first thought was: wow, people really still do that?

The ACLU claims that such charges are unconstitutional based on the first amendment, saying that motorists are only expressing their right of free speech and their right to communicate with other drivers. They previously won an injunction against the City of Ellisville, Mo. banning the practice and will likely prevail here.

I say the practice is dying out. I drive a lot of miles, primarily on the West Coast, and cannot remember the last time I saw someone flash their lights to warn me of a speed-trap up ahead. During snowbird season here in Arizona, you do see tons of high beam flashing due to the elderly pulling their combination turn signal/high beam stalks when they signal a turn, so those do not count.

New technology may also be to blame for the demise.  My Mercedes-Benz came equipped with Adaptive Highbeam Assist which does not allow for the flashing of the bright lights unless you change the settings in the COMAND system or turn off the automatic headlights. The widespread adoption of daytime running lights and automated headlights may means some drivers never even bothered to learn how to use their lights or high beam controls.

I also think that Generation Why has no idea what headlight flashing means and besides, who can text and flash their lights at the same time?

So do you flash your lights to warn of speed-traps or see others do it in your travels?

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ACLU Says License Plate Scanning Widespread, With Few Controls On Collected Data http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/07/aclu-says-license-plate-scanning-widespread-with-few-controls-on-collected-data/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2013/07/aclu-says-license-plate-scanning-widespread-with-few-controls-on-collected-data/#comments Fri, 19 Jul 2013 14:49:01 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=495816 TTAC has recently addressed the issue of police using scanning technology to read license plates and then store their street locations. When the story broke, it centered on a few counties in Northern California, but the American Civil Liberties Union has just released documents that show that the practice is widespread across the United States […]

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TTAC has recently addressed the issue of police using scanning technology to read license plates and then store their street locations. When the story broke, it centered on a few counties in Northern California, but the American Civil Liberties Union has just released documents that show that the practice is widespread across the United States and that few of the police agencies or private companies that are scanning license plates and storing that data, making it possible to retroactively track drivers, have any meaningful rules in place to protect drivers’ privacy. There are few controls on how the collected data is accessed and used. The documents reveal that many police departments keep the information on millions of people’s locations for years, or even indefinitely, whether or not they are suspected of a crime. Data on tens of millions of drivers is being logged and stored.

ACLU Staff Attorney Catherine Crump, the report’s lead author said, “The spread of these scanners is creating what are, in effect, government location tracking systems recording the movements of many millions of innocent Americans in huge databases. We don’t object to the use of these systems to flag cars that are stolen or belong to fugitives, but these documents show a dire need for rules to make sure that this technology isn’t used for unbridled government surveillance.”

With the help of chapters in 38 states, the ACLU compiled 26,000 pages of documents based on nearly 600 Freedom of Information Act requests submitted to federal, state and local agencies, asking how those agencies use license plate readers and how they manage the data collected. Approximately 300 police departments’ policies were reviewed. According to the civil liberties group, only a minuscule fraction of the scanned plates are used to solve crimes. In Maryland, for example, only 47 out of every million plates scanned (0.005%) were even potentially associated with auto theft or a person wanted for a serious crime.

The issue is not restricted to government agencies. There’s no expectation of privacy in public and for-profit companies can also set up scanners on vehicles or in fixed locations, also without having to protect how that information is used. A firm named Vigilant Solutions has over 800 million registration plate location records. Over 2,200 police agencies, including the Dept. of Homeland Security, pay Vigilant Solutions for access to their data.

The ACLU has suggested a number of specific policies regarding license plate scanning to make sure that nobody’s rights are being infringed. Those recommendations include: that a reasonable suspicion that a crime has taken place must exist before police can examine the information, unless there is a specific legitimate reason for record retention, the scanning data should be automatically deleted within weeks, or days if possible, and people should have the right to know if their cars’ location information has been stored in a law enforcement data base.

You can read the full ACLU report here. Interactive slide show here

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Big Brother Is Watching, Recording, And Storing You. ACLU Alarmed http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/08/big-brother-is-watching-recording-and-storing-you-aclu-alarmed/ http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2012/08/big-brother-is-watching-recording-and-storing-you-aclu-alarmed/#comments Thu, 09 Aug 2012 14:51:58 +0000 http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/?p=456067 Over the recent years, Automatic License Plate Recognition (ALPR)  has come into increased use.  What has the American Civil Liberties Union up in arms is that the data are stored and can be used to compile behavioral profiles on innocent civilians. The state of Maryland seems to be in the lead when it comes to centralized […]

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Over the recent years, Automatic License Plate Recognition (ALPR)  has come into increased use.  What has the American Civil Liberties Union up in arms is that the data are stored and can be used to compile behavioral profiles on innocent civilians. The state of Maryland seems to be in the lead when it comes to centralized aggregation and storage of ALPR data, “which raises significant privacy concerns,” says the ACLU.

Says an article on the ACLU website:

“If license plate scans, which are typically stamped with a location, time, and date, were used just for these purposes and deleted shortly thereafter, privacy concerns would be minimal to non-existent. After all, police can run license plates against these databases themselves. ALPR technology simply cuts down on the time and manpower required to perform these functions on a large scale. 

The privacy issues arise with the retention of the information. A police officer will not forever remember the exact location and time of an innocent motorist’s travels. With ALPR technology, those details can be stored indefinitely, creating an ever-growing historical record of the daily comings and goings of every Marylander. As ALPRs become more ubiquitous and that record becomes longer and more detailed, it will become possible for the government to determine a person’s exact movements during any given time period.” 

American Civil Liberties Union affiliates in 38 states sent requests to local police departments and state agencies that demand information on how they use automatic license plate readers (ALPR) to track and record Americans’ movements. The ACLU and the ACLU of Massachusetts filed federal Freedom of Information Act requests with the Departments of Justice, Homeland Security, and Transportation to learn how the federal government funds ALPR expansion nationwide and uses the technology itself.

In the meantime, take the bus. Hat tip to an anonymous tipster.

 

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