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Wednesday, August 7, 2013

They’re Watching You


You’re on candid camera!

And if it weren’t for recent documents obtained by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), you wouldn’t even know it.

Through the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), ACLU offices across the United States filed nearly 600 requests for documents pertaining to a new technology…

A technology that’s emerging as the standard in “crime fighting” solutions…

A technology that the ACLU discovered to be dangerously unregulated, with no future government
conversation in the works, either…

And it’s picking up serious traction in small towns and major cities through law enforcement agencies all over the nation.

The problem at hand is an all-too-familiar reality…

These advancements in technology that increase nationwide protection come with an added cost: your privacy.

The government is abhorrently violating essential rights that are staples in America’s Constitution and criminalizing innocent American citizens in the process.

Your Own Reality Show

When out on the road, you and countless other law-abiding citizens are simply going about your daily lives – heading to  work, school, church, the grocery store…wherever.

You’re mindful of the “speed cameras” that were installed in your local area a few years back. You assume that as long as you’re going the speed limit, you’re safe… you won’t get a ticket…

But there’s something you don’t know. In fact, something sinister is happening.

You see, these gadgets — mounted on local roads, major highways, and patrol cars — are documenting the license plates of each and every passing vehicle. Including yours…

They’re called “Automatic License Plate Readers,” and they’ve been implemented in tens of thousands of locations across the United States by private companies, state and local police departments, and the federal government.

These aren’t just radar detectors or hi-tech cameras with speed trigger mechanisms. They aren’t just issuing speeding tickets, either… They’re also cataloging your license plate number, date and time stamps and GPS coordinates to boot.

Police officers can check against these “hot lists” of accumulated license plate numbers and driver records housed in the system. If a car is stolen, license plate readers can help provide thousands of extra “eyes” on the road and alert officers when they read the specific plate.

Now, we’re told this documentation is only used for specifically tracking stolen vehicles or finding criminals before they flee town. But the cameras are stockpiling a mass collection of “plate reads” and uploading the records to databases scattered across the country:
  • In Grapevine, Texas: 2 million warehoused plate reads – stored forever
  • In Milpitas, California: 4.7 million warehoused plate reads – stored forever
  • In Jersey City, New Jersey: 10 million warehoused plate reads – deleted after 5 years
The issue is that they’re capturing and storing footage on everyone in the process… even if you’re a law-abiding citizen.

In fact, the ACLU discovered that only a tiny fraction of “plate reads” turn into “hot list hits” and an even smaller number of actual arrests.
Look at it this way…

In the state of Maryland, for every 1 million plate reads, 2,000 hot list hits are provided to police officers… 47 of which are serious criminals.

Ultimately, the technology is simply amassing a collection of personal and private information – despite proof that nearly no protection or oversight is provided.

Now, let me make sure I’m absolutely clear here…

There are no rules and no regulations in place to prevent the state and federal government from tracking everyone’s movements at all times. None.

That’s why the ACLU intervened. It simply wanted to find out how the technology works and what, if any, safeguards are in place to prevent a serious breech on personal liberty and privacy.

Location Profiling

Location data is highly sensitive information that’s extremely revealing…

It tells an observer who you are and what you do.

Are you an avid gym goer? Heavy drinker? Daily churchgoer? Medical patient? Political activist? All of the above?

In an unregulated world, this type of information can lead to targeting, the likes of which makes the IRS scandal look like a game of “tag.”

For instance, if you’re a volunteer or employee on the Rand Paul for President campaign in 2016, you and everyone else parking in the lot by the office could have your license plates read and stored by undercover cops carrying readers.

They can then start a profile on you – and you might be labeled “Tea Party Activist.”

The potential for abuse of power is overwhelming…

Anyone with access, even hackers who break into the system, can manually track specific plates. Pings on the plate from various license plate readers around the neighborhood will instantly alert the pursuer. Let’s say someone has a grudge against you… They’d have a pretty huge upper hand if they wanted to settle the score.

In fact, it’s growing increasingly possible for there to be video documentation of every place you’ve ever traveled. And this makes your future moves infinitely easier to predict.
That’s why this license plate data is not only dangerous in the wrong hands…it’s also extremely profitable. With zero regulations, your personal travel record will be sold. You can count on it.

But more importantly, as technology becomes increasingly less expensive and more powerful, the government will continue to quietly monitor the public and store your every move.

If ever the time arises that they need it, they have full access to the records… always.

Your eyes on the Hill,
Licence Plate Tracking
Martin Biancuzzo

Source: capitalhilldaily