As another police department in Orange County acquires new license plate tracking cameras an software systems, the massive privacy and monitoring capabilities of the surveillance state continue to grow without any serious consideration about the rights of citizens to be anonymous and left alone in a free society.
License plate scanning systems have been exploding in the past few years. These police cruiser mounted cameras that scan license tags allow police to track and identify thousands of vehicles per hour, looking for stolen vehicles, or drivers with outstanding warrants, suspended driver’s licenses or any other issue flagged by law enforcement for which they may want to stop your car.
Most of the time, this is a plus for public safety and criminal justice, but there is a serious concern about all the data collected on innocent citizens who are not suspected of any wrongdoing. All that data is scooped up in this data net as well.
In a press release from the manufacture, Federal Signal published on sacbee.com, the company emphasizes the data sharing arrangements with other law enforcement agencies.
Consider the privacy and civil liberties issues in this paragraph:
Garden Grove’s system relies on Federal Signal’s Back Office System Software (BOSS™) to organize and archive the substantial amount of data that is being continually produced by the ALPR unit. The system spotlights an extremely user-friendly and intuitive interface, which allows patrolling officers to query the data against multiple search parameters, such as time, date, full or partial plate, location, user, etc. The system even permits users to track vehicle movement by mapping locations associated to a specific license plate.
What they are saying is that they are able to trace the location and movement of any vehicle in their system that has been tagged and tracked by one of these systems. Anyone with access to this data can find out where you’ve been for any reason.
There is no mention of who has access to this data, for what reason they may be searching, or if a warrant is required to passive and retroactively track your travel habits.
All of this is developing fast with very little consideration for the implications of creating a massive surveillance state in the US. Any privacy considerations are being bulldozed by the capabilities of this technology.