Another California law enforcement agency is being added to the growing list of those employing passive license plate scanning and tracking technology. The Oceanside police department is the newest participant, along with the recently added departments of Escondido and Carlsbad.
This article does a very good job highlighting some of the many potential civil liberties issues and government abuses that are possible with this technology.
These license plate scanners photograph and scan all license plates within range of the police vehicle. The license tags are translated into text and matched with an on-board database of license plates identified to have any outstanding government-identified issues.
The primary mission of these systems is said to be locating stolen cars. But with a push of a button the systems are easily configured to identify driver’s who many have criminal warrants, hit and run driver’s, back tax payments, suspended driver’s licenses, or lapsed auto insurance
Even more troubling is the vast tracking capability and historical data that is captured and stored by these systems. Each plate captures is saved and matched by it’s location at the time via an onboard GPS.
So it is entirely possible for police officers to review your past history, and find out where your plate has been scanned at anytime in the past.
With more and more police and law enforcement agents using these systems, now is the time to be concerned about safeguarding our Constitutional liberties and protetions.
These units will only become cheaper, and will likely be standard equipment on all police vehicles in the very near future. And database tracking and sharing will only become more robust. Your driving history and patterns are essentially an open record. And unlike with EZ Pass toll systems, you are not allowed to opt out of this government surveillance.
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