By on April 6, 2015

license plate cameras

Over a year after Homeland Security passed on building a national license-plate reader database, the department is once again interested.

Autoblog reports DHS is this time seeking a commercial solution already on the market, instead of looking to contractors to build the database as the department once desired. Going the commercial route would help bolster its ability to fight crime while providing the path toward minimizing privacy concerns, with the current plan calling for LPR information to be stored for five years barring exceptions as needed pending supervisor approval.

On the other side, critics of the plan cite privacy and First Amendment concerns (the latter specifically about the right to peaceably assemble). Electronic Frontier Foundation senior staff attorney Jennifer Lynch says the department’s plan doesn’t do much to protect privacy in a meaningful way, while Center for Democracy and Technology senior counsel Gregory T. Nojeim warns that DHS would have “warrantless access to location information going back at least five years about virtually every adult driver in the U.S.” upon implementation.

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10 Comments on “Homeland Security Re-evaluating License-Plate Reader Database Plan...”

  • avatar

    While I’m not sure who else is doing this but one of the cities in my AO has been using licence plate readers to identify expired as and comparing them against the DMV’s information of delinquent personal property taxes. If the expired tags produce somebody delinquent in paying personal property tax a sticker is applied making it illegal for the owner to move the vehicle with the vehicle then seized and impounded.

    Impound fees run over 100 bucks a day so even a minor tax bill can esculate quickly. The rub in all this is that the city can garnish the tax money anyways with whatever penalty they want to apply.

    Seems like a blatant money grab as they can garnish your wages, your issued a ticket, you have to pay the impound fees and they can seize and sell your property.

    I’m not sure if unpaid fines and fees eventually lead to jail time in VA but I wouldn’t doubt it.

    I’m also not sure how wide spread the issue of unpaid personal property tax is?

    Seems,to me if unpaid personal property tax is rife then the state needs to look at another way to collect the money?

    • 0 avatar

      Be careful what you wish for. In my AO it’s the opposite extreme- if they ever used these automatic readers here then they would come up with a lot of “TAG APPLIED FOR” readings (some of them hand-written on a piece of paper flapping in the breeze on some barely roadworthy crapbox).

    • 0 avatar

      In Florida they are using them primarily for the purpose of catching expired tags.

      I had a friend who was pulled over for that and that alone. No moving violations, no other infractions. The cop was just sitting on the side of the road (during rush hour traffic in which exceeding the speed limit was literally impossible) waiting for the license plate reader to call out a target.

      First this system will be used to enforce the collection of fees.
      Next, when the camera grid is large and networked enough, it will be part of a per-mile tax system – GPS tracking not needed.

      • 0 avatar

        C’mon, man, nothing against your friend but it’s not exactly a surprise when your tags are due for renewal… you know… every year on your birthday. You can renew them in person, by mail, on line, it’s not THAT hard in Florida. Don’t do the crime if you can’t do the time, and with all due respect to your friend, if he can’t pay his bills on time like the rest of us poor schmucks then he deserves what he got.

  • avatar

    Our masters will feed, clothe and protect us.

  • avatar

    I feel like I need to start removing my license plates every time I park in public.

  • avatar

    Entrapment at it’s finest!

  • avatar
    DC Bruce

    Based on the recent Supreme Court decision regarding GPS tracking, I’m not sure how long programs like this will be legal. This amounts to nothing more than what used to be called a “dragnet”: bring everybody down to the police station and start talking to them; maybe one of them will be the perp. As others have pointed out, this builds a data base that allows people to be tracked over time, based on the observation of the license plate, each instance of which includes time, date and location information.

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