When it comes to the government things are never cut and dry. A gray area always exists and you can be sure it will happen if the correct measures aren’t taken to protect your freedom.
This new police tactic is no different.
Attached to police cars, bridges or buildings – and sometimes merely as an app on a police officer’s smartphone – scanners capture images of passing or parked vehicles and pinpoint their locations, uploading that information into police databases.
This is a pretty powerful piece of technology that police forces are using. And with any piece of government technology it has the ability to be abused.
The reality that this could be used to violate your privacy is not hard to believe. All it takes is one politician, one law and your freedom is blown to smithereens.
Several aspects of these license plate scanners are unsettling. It’s scary to imagine what could be done with this technology. But hopefully, the more you know about it the more you can fight back against it and reclaim your right to privacy and freedom.
Here are some aspects surrounding the license plate scanners that are troubling.
1. Your movements are being tracked
Whenever your license plate is scanned it’s attached with a location, which is then sent to police databases. If you pass several police cars in one day then they have a map of where you traveled.
Let’s say you’re going out of state. You head toward your state border and you pass two cop cars on the way. Once you’re in the next state you pass another police car and then another soon after.
Thanks to the plate scanners the police now have your route.
License plate scanners aren’t as thorough as GPS tracking, but they can produce much of the same information.
Whenever you get in your car and take a trip to your parents’ house or the park you can be monitored. Think of the possibilities. If the government ever wanted to find you for something they’d have all the information right at their fingertips.
Or if you ever wanted to keep something secret (regardless of the moral implications) the government could find out about it by simply looking at your license plate locations.
You can kiss privacy bye-bye.
2. In most cases your license plate data is never erased
Every scanned plate is sent to the police database, where it just sits. If you’re in a state that doesn’t regulate it then your license plates are being stored indefinitely. And it builds every time you pass a police car.
This allows police officers to see where you’ve been two, three or even five years ago. If they want to know if you participate in the Tea Party all they have to do is search through your locations to see if it matches up with any known Tea Party meetings or protests.
It’s that simple. And it’s a huge infringement on your right to privacy.
3. Cops can scan an unlimited amount of license plates
As one law enforcement officer from Maryland said, “[police officers could] maintain a normal patrol stance while capturing up to 7,000 license plate images in a single eight-hour shift.”
An example from Minneapolis shows how massive that ability is:
…Eight mobile and two fixed cameras captured data on 4.9 million license plates from January to August 2012, the Star Tribune reported. Among those whose movements were recorded: Mayor R.T. Rybak, whose city-owned cars were tracked at 41 locations in a year.
41 times in one year by only 8 police cars and 2 fixed cameras! Can you imagine the possibilities with a larger mobile force coupled with more cameras? Scary isn’t it?
4. Barely any laws exist that regulate these license plate scanners
The leaked NSA story showed you how out of control surveillance can get when not properly regulated. These scanners are no different.
The ACLU found that only five states have laws governing license plate readers. New Hampshire, for example, bans the technology except in narrow circumstances, while Maine and Arkansas limit how long plate information can be stored.
Only 5 states have any laws regulating this technology. Yet the amount of information being collected is enormous.
If you fail to adequately control a surveillance program it will get out of hand. Leading to an abuse of power, and ultimately, an end to your freedom.
5. Every cop car becomes a surveillance tool
Just like if the government deployed drones to start monitoring American citizens, cop cars are becoming the new monitoring system.
As we get closer to seeing more police vehicles outfitted with scanners it’ll become easier for law enforcement to track your movements.
38 states and Washington D.C. already employ license plat scanners.
Yet, the amount of “hits” on suspicious plates is so low that it barely warrants having such a program at all.
Not to mention that most offenses caught with license plate scanners included miniscule crimes such as revoked registration and violation of the state’s emissions inspection program. (page 17)
These plate scanners are doing nothing but turning police cars into mobile surveillance vehicles; capable of collecting vast amounts of information. Information that violates your privacy.
And as always, it has nothing to do with catching the “bad guys” and everything to do with watching you.