An ordinance to allow the Michigan City Police Department to purchase license plate reader technology, including facial recognition capability, was killed Tuesday after several concerned citizens spoke against it during a public hearing. Read the full article at Herald-Argus.
From cameras capable of reading faces and license plates to self-serve kiosks that take credit card payments, city officials are having to reconcile the balance between innovation and public privacy. Read the full article at GovTech.
Denver-area neighborhoods are installing license plate readers to record every vehicle that passes by
License plate readers posted at both entrances to an upscale Aurora neighborhood snapped pictures of passing cars Wednesday, recording the type, color and license plate number of each vehicle and inputting that information into a database. Such technology used to be relegated to law enforcement. But these cameras were purchased by the local homeowner association in January after a few burglaries of cars and a home in the neighborhood. Red signs near the cameras warn passersby of “24/7 Video Recording.
The University of Central Florida Police Department said it will soon begin photographing the license plates of each vehicle at the main campus’ six entrances and exits. Officials said the readers will record the location, the date and the time of the photograph. Read the full article at WFTV 9.
Lots of Americans think that the government is spying on them, but in the dystopian future, it’s probably just as likely to be a McDonald’s that’s keeping track of your every move. Multiple fast food chains are reportedly trialling license plate recognition systems for their drive-thrus. It looks like the main aim is to either speed up service, or juice more money out of customers: If a camera at, say, a Starbucks recognizes a repeat customer, it might show a custom menu centering around that person’s tastes, or it might be able to store that person’s payment details.
[A]s the technology has matured, it’s gotten in the hands of organizations that, five years ago, would never have been able to consider it. Small-town police departments can suddenly afford to conduct surveillance at a massive scale. Neighborhood homeowners associations and property managers are buying up cameras by the dozen. And in many jurisdictions, cheap automatic license plate reader (ALPR) cameras are creeping into neighborhoods – with almost nothing restricting how they’re used besides the surveiller’s own discretion….
As part of the training for the ALPR systems, Chandler officers are taught to “grid” neighborhoods during their downtime – systematically driving up and down every street in an area, indiscriminately scooping up information on vehicles – not because of any suspected criminal activity, but because the information might be useful in future criminal investigations. The practice is worrisome for civil liberties advocates, who view the sweeping data collection as too expansive.
ICE has full-blown access to license plate databases around the nation, as well as its own direct hookup to the largest ALPR database itself – the one compiled by ALPR manufacturer Vigilant. It places almost no restrictions on searches of these databases. Anything that somehow isn’t compliant can be farmed out to state and local agencies to perform searches by proxy. The ACLU has obtained records showing just how much access ICE has, and how often it performs searches.
DeKalb police officers will soon tap into private license plate readers stationed in communities across the county. The county commission voted 7-0 Tuesday to approve an agreement with Flock Safety, an Atlanta-based company that markets itself as a crime-solving tool for neighborhoods. Read the full article at AJC.
Brian Hofer has worked for the last half decade on defending citizens’ rights to privacy and creating tighter oversight surrounding the use of mass surveillance techniques and technology. So the irony is not lost on him when he said he and his brother, a 23-year-old political science student at UC Berkeley, were detained, sometimes at gunpoint, on Nov. 25 when a license plate reader near the San Pablo Lytton Casino off Interstate Highway 80 alerted police that they were riding in a stolen car.