In an ominous report, Lt. William Tyler of the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department explains how citizens in San Jacinto and the surrounding area will soon be monitored and tracked by police just for driving down the street. The location and identity of every vehicle in visual range or a police vehicle equipped with this license plate scanning system will permanently store this data, and share it with other law enforcement agencies across the country in a “nationwide web”.
Automatic license plate scanner technology allowed police vehicles to identify cars on the road that may be wanted on suspicion of being stolen, amber alerts, or matched with drivers/owners who may be wanted for outstanding warrants, or driving on suspended driver’s licenses. If a vehicle in the database is in scanning distance of the system, the officer in the cruiser in immediately altered to take action.
But the system does much more than that, as this report in the Valley Chronicle explains. The system is passively capturing data on every vehicle, and the time and location via GPS. The data can be called up to determine vehicles that may have been in the vicinity of a crime scene, sensitive security site, or any other location of interest to the government. The data can be mined by homeland security to put together a pattern of the movements of any citizen.
These powerful capabilities raise serious questions about who has access to this data. And what will they be searching for? Can you be a suspect or person of interest just because you were parked near suspicious activities? Are they going to track anyone who might be in the area of perfectly legal events and political rallys?
And what is the next step in the surveillance state? How much longer will it be before these systems are accurate enough to scan people and perform instant facial recognition matching with DMV photos?
These kind of extremely powerful monitoring tools school concern every California citizen, and we should know exactly what they are used for.