United States governmental licence plate spying

This video is called “You are being tracked” — ACLU reveals mass license plate surveillance.

By Eric London in the USA:

US government using license plates to track movements of millions

18 July 2013

A report issued by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) on Wednesday [ http://www.aclu.org/alpr ] details an immense operation through which nearly 1 billion license plate records of hundreds of millions of drivers are tracked and huge databases are amassed, providing the American government with access to the history and recent whereabouts of the majority of the US population.

For years, a network of federal security agencies, local police departments and private companies have been using automatic license plate readers on police cruisers, in parking lots, at traffic intersections—even through smartphone apps—to photograph cars and their drivers and to record license plate numbers with the matching time, date and location.

“More and more cameras, longer retention periods, and widespread sharing allow law enforcement agents to assemble the individual puzzle pieces of where we have been over time into a single, high-resolution image of our lives,” the report says.

“The systems can also plot all vehicles at a particular location, such as the location where a crime—or a political protest—took place” through a procedure called “geofencing,” whereby “law enforcement or private companies can construct a virtual fence around a designated geographical area, to identify each vehicle entering that space.”

The use of this technology for such authoritarian procedures gives the lie to the claims of the government and security apparatus that the purpose of the license-tracking program is to stop crime.

In Maryland, for example, where license plate trackers stored over 85 million license plate reads in 2012 alone, only 0.2 percent of those license plates were matched to any suspected unlawful activity. Of the 0.2 percent, 97 percent of those were for violation of state registration or smog check programs.

However, the data on the whereabouts of all 85 million plates in Maryland is stored in a state fusion center, the Maryland Coordination and Analysis Center (MCAC), which is then shared with a regional database called the National Capital Region License Plate Reader Project (NCR). According to the NCR, “any law enforcement agency” can take license plate data and “retain it indefinitely.”

Regional databases similar to the NCR exist across the country to help circumvent individual state limitations on the length of time for which license plate and travel data can be held. Though not referenced in the ACLU report, the aggregated license plate data from all state and regional databases are likely compiled and stored indefinitely by the National Security Agency alongside the DNA and ID photograph records and Internet and phone communications of the vast majority of people in the US.

At a hearing before the House Judiciary Committee yesterday, Deputy Director of the National Security Agency John Inglis admitted that the depth of the NSA surveillance program goes far beyond what the government had previously admitted: here.

USA: How Corporations and Law Enforcement Are Spying on Environmentalists: here.

6 thoughts on “United States governmental licence plate spying

  1. Revelations of massive surveillance of Americans by the secretive National Security Agency (NSA) have outraged Americans across ideological lines.

    This surveillance violates the Fourth Amendment, which prevents the government from searching our records without a specific warrant.

    Tell Congress to stop the NSA’s unconstitutional phone surveillance of Americans.

    The surveillance was authorized by the secret FISA court using secret interpretations of laws that were never intended to authorize spying on Americans.

    The first attempt by Congress to restrict unconstitutional NSA surveillance is the Amash-Conyers Amendment to H.R. 2397, which would defund NSA surveillance of the telephone records of Americans, unless they are the subject of an authorized terrorism investigation.

    The House of Representatives will vote today on the Amash-Conyers Amendment, and Internet activists across the political spectrum are mobilizing to inundate Congress. So please act now!

    Tell Congress to stop the NSA’s unconstitutional phone surveillance of Americans.

    Thanks for all you do!

    Bob Fertik


  2. Pingback: British journalists worry about civil liberties | Dear Kitty. Some blog

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