In Northern California, law enforcement agencies are using license plate readers to build a giant database of publicly available personal information—all obtained legally, without warrants. In 2011 the Northern California Regional Intelligence Center, which coordinates information-sharing between law enforcement agencies, signed a contract with Silicon Valley-based defense contractor Palantir to create a database capable of storing 100 million license plate records.
Computer security consultant Michael Katz-Lacabe requested a record from the city of San Leandro, Calif., of times license plate readers had snapped his car. He found 112 instances—including a photo of him and his young daughters getting out of his Prius.
Meanwhile in Germany, a serial drive-by shooter responsible for firing at least 762 shots at vehicles and buildings since 2008, was identified in April thanks to a license plate reader system specifically set up to nab him. According to local official Edgar Wagner, 60 million to 80 million photos, with metadata attached, were taken of innocent people in order to catch the lone suspect.
This constant photographing of private, innocent citizens is absolutely creepy. But there's a weird hitch for privacy advocates who would challenge comprehensive license plate surveillance: Because license plates are displayed on the outside of vehicles as they travel in public spaces, the information is technically public.
How do license plate readers work?
To understand the implications of license plate readers, both the benefits and the potential for misuse, it helps to understand the technology. The data for these programs is generated by Automatic License Plate Recognition (ALPR), a technology that uses cameras and software to find and record license plate numbers. The cameras usually operate on both the infrared and visual light spectrums, allowing the system to work during day and night. A processing unit takes the image recorded by the camera, and using algorithms isolates the numbers from visual noise. The plate numbers are then stored, timestamped, and tagged with a location.
ALPR systems are typically found in three places: next to red light cameras, monitoring the entrances and exits of parking lots, and mounted on police cars. Most of the time, they record the plates of parked cars.
In Iowa City, concerns about passive violation of privacy led to the consideration of a ban on license plate readers. And earlier this year, the American Civil Liberties Union and the Electronic Frontier Foundation filed suit against the Los Angeles Police Department and Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department, requesting that the departments reveal information they had gathered using the plate readers.
The ability to pull up years of records on a specific vehicle's movements is, of course, a tremendous boon to a criminal investigation. So, with the exception of preemptive legislative measures like Iowa City's proposed ban, it seems unlikely that police will stop using this technology any time soon. We'll keep an eye on how the ACLU's court case turns out.
1.) NSA monitoring all communications in the world, real time, innocent and criminal.
2.) Remote drones spying internationally and nationally, with that occasion sanction approved kill.
3.) Cameras station all across the USA cities and highways.
4.) GTMO to put suspect terrorist and terrorist in prison with the least amount of human rights possible.
5.) A bankrupt government with an out of control debt and currently frozen in managing our government.
6.) Social Security consider bankrupt\broken by year 2033
and Medicare will become broken closed sooner.
7.) The USA government and other countries predicting gloom an doom with global warming.
8.) World population growth marches forward.
9.) World pollution growth marches forward.
10.) World animals continue to become extinct.
11.) Oh, I am sure there is more....
If the sh#t is finally hitting the fan, at least try not become corrupt, but continue being nice to your fellow neighbor.
There is no such thing as freedom in this country, it's as much a smoke screen as it is for communism. This "legal" means of obtaining license plates, and "public" information is just yet another invasion of privacy. Wonder, in the comments above has it right.
In any arms race , there is always a new weapon. (for both sides) it won't be long before EMP devices become tuned enough to attach to a car, and disrupt any unwanted surveillance. Look at the GPS jammers available now. I didn't even know the damn things existed until popsci posted about a reward for figuring out how to block a gps jammer. Sure they will be illegal, but radar detectors were illegal in all sorts of places.
The biggest problem with government is that it forgets that it is the servant, and not the master. It's job is to protect the people, to aid the people, and above all, to serve the people. Governments that wise up to that reality will be around for a long time, those that don't , will go the way of gadhafi.
To counter your points wonder
1 there are many ethical people at the NSA, most are more ethical then snowden, who i laud.
2 drones are the beginning of the end of war. notice how the arab spring is proceeding nicely? without iran to sponsor terrorism, there won't be any threats
, and terrorism laws will be sunsetted.
3 cameras are only a threat if you are a movie star, or are doing something illegal
4 i agree with your point #4, overreaction to terrorism (which was propagated by an agressive american foreign policy) severely infringes on human rights, but it too will pass
5 money does not even exist, it is an artifical construct to take people attention away from more serious issues, if you do not back it with a something tangible like gold, it has no value
6 there are no shortages, any percieved shortages are due to unequal distribution, they will pay, because they have to, or risk civil unrest.
7 global warming is not entirely man-made, plus one good volcanic eruption and we will be in an ice age. (melting ice triggers volcanoes)
8 westernization stabilizes population growth, and reverses it in most cases, economic equality will reduce the birth rate. who wants kids when they could live it up? poor people have buckets of kids in the hope that a few will survive and care enough to take care of them in their old age.
9 pollution is a real issue, but there are too many people working on it for it not to be solved in time.
10 ever seen the article on cloning the mammoth? if the genes are preserved, it will eventually be re-created.
11 the rest of the story is that world improves every day, in medicine, technology, art, writing, and humanitarian works. Optimists live 8% longer then pessimists, so over time, pessimism will become extinct.
Very well said Wonder!
You'll notice cars in the ghetto always back in, wonder why? lol Before you cry foul, go outside and look.
We need to monitor those who are or are not taxpayers. ~ US Gov.
As my beloved government pursues avenues for my own security, my own security is unraveling in front of my eyes with the tools my government uses to protect me.
I honestly could not care less. They won't do a thing with it that could possibly upset me. Scan away!
my classmate's step-aunt makes $89 every hour on the internet. She has been without work for 6 months but last month her pay check was $16775 just working on the internet for a few hours. Read more on this site...... www.bay95.com
Although the slow forward creep of the security state bothers me, I can't think of one reason why this would cause me, a law abiding citizen, any harm. Can anyone give me a good example? Not one where it is more difficult for me to cheat on my wife, or something similarly unscrupulous, but one which might do me, a law abiding citizen not trying to lie, steal, or cheat, harm?
I'm not saying I like this, I just think it's inevitable with the exponentially increasing computer power combined with ubiquitous security cameras. I'm just looking for why I might want to be concerned.
A NSA analyist is directed to make an imaginary report on an idividual and since there is so much secrecy in the manner of how they conduct business it is not question with the lack over oversight. Then this indidual is label a 'suspect terrorist' which is equal to the word terrorist, you are removed from USA soil and sent to GTMO Cuba to remove your writes and access to legal counsel and voice.
"Cameras are only a threat if you are doing something illegal".
This system of recording and monitoring is growing on a daily basis and becoming more and more all-encompassing.
Once the system is in place for full-time round the clock monitoring of anything and everything, the authorities could make small, incremental changes to "the system" which tightens the noose and gives more control. Such as, changing what is considered "legal". ((insert star wars quote, "Is this blockade legal?, ""I will make it legal"")).
Power corrupts absolutely. Let's remember that for a minute.
I'm all for catching the bad guys. But what happens when the system is so tight and effective that it restricts the ability of the people to retain their control over the government? the tighter the grip, then the government can feel free to press their advantage and become "oppressive" instead of just "governing".
"governing" can end at any time, the people know who has control of the wheel and accept that the car is being steered appropriately to mostly everyone's satisfaction, aka "good enough". we're going in the right direction.
"oppressive" can happen overnight, when there is so much control and power, that noose gets tighter, and you can see that the government has a firm grip on that wheel and they're not letting go, regardless of whether the people think the car has gone the wrong direction or not. "opressive" is when the government has you by the balls and you have to play by their rules, whether you want to or not.
I'm not anti-government. But certainly, I am saying that once the pieces are in place, the people won't be able to fight back. Chess isn't all about taking pieces. It's about blocking moves and predicting movements, limiting access, and forcing your opponents hand, when possible. The game of chess doesn't even end in death for the loser, it ends in "check-mate", when the opposing force has no choice, no options left.
Look at this arab-spring. The governments there are arresting people for trying to arrange protests online. This is using technology to block the will of the people, making it harder for the people to be heard.
This is why the government should not have too much power. It is not "well if you're not doing anything illegal then you have nothing to worry about.". No, under that line of thinking, we all become cattle. The fact is, our government was set up to be for the people, by the people, and there needs to be a balance of power between the government and the citizens. If the government is too powerful, they can abuse that power and the USA could easily wind up looking like Syria does now.
The pieces are starting to fall into place, and eventually, it "could" happen, that with enough technology, a big enough of a net, the right systems in place, the wrong people at the wheel, some powder keg goes off and boom, we're living in a police-state and find ourselves embarassingly in the position of being unable to do anything to stop it.
Obviously, fighting your own government would require organization first and foremost with other like-minded folks. Communication is central to organization. Therefore, control of the internet, cameras, phones, newspapers, TV news stations, radio, etc, is central to the power of the people.
license plate readers (and facial recognition cameras too) recording all movements could be used to determine who attends specific meetings, who is affiliated with which local leaders, who attended specific protests, and attempts to fight the government could be easily squashed before they gain much momentum / organization.
For all we know, this could be happening now, and it's simply not portrayed in the news that way. Cover stories and spin things the right way, a touch of PR.....Shadow government. Lead the people without them even know it's happening.
I still doubt if they could find Waldo.