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It seems they both walk the fine line of being useful, yet big brother-like

Privacy is a hot issue at present, whether it's regarding online privacy or physical privacy in your home or on the street.

Back in 2007, New York ordered license plate readers that would be placed throughout Lower Manhattan in order to monitor vehicles. Then, in 2010, the American Civil Liberties Union investigated Raleigh, North Carolina's use of license plate scanning equipment to determine whether it violated citizens' privacy rights.

Now, a new report from Kenner, Louisiana says that the Kenner Police Department has been using license plate recognition technology to recover stolen vehicles. According to Kenner police, they've been able to find 80 stolen vehicles over the past seven months alone.

"It's the greatest technology to hit law enforcement in a long time," said Kenner Police Chief Steve Caraway. "Within seconds, police officers get a BOLO, a bulletin on their computer saying stolen Toyota headed westbound on Veterans."

The cameras, which were paid for by grants, provide photographs of the back of the stolen vehicle, and the photo is sent to police computers within 20 seconds. In one particular case, two 16-year-old's and a 19-year-old were arrested at Armstrong International Airport after stealing a SUV from New Orleans six days earlier. Police were able to identify the vehicle through the license plate recognition technology.

But this technology didn't only benefit police as far as stolen vehicles go; it also aided police in murder cases, missing person cases and to track sex offenders.

"We've actually solved a recent murder, where all the witnesses saw was just a blue Toyota Camry leaving a neighborhood," said Caraway.

While this system seems to serve its purpose, I couldn't help but compare the technology to the red-light cameras being placed around the U.S. Many citizens are against such systems saying that they are invasive, and that they have the potential to be abused by law enforcement officers as a way of generating revenue. On the other hand, recent studies found that these red-light cameras can prevent accidents, and enforce good driving behavior (even at intersections without the cameras).

The license plate recognition falls in the same general category of monitoring vehicles and alerting police when something illegal occurs, and it seems as if both systems are working to their full potential. But my question is, does the license plate recognition technology fall into the same realm of being potentially invasive and abused? It seems they both walk the fine line of being useful, yet big brother-like.

In my opinion, I think both are helpful tools in reducing crime and accidents. I don't condone car theft or the running of red lights, and if there is a way of reducing the number of occurrences, I'm all for it. But in the back of my mind, I have to wonder if police could scan a license plate and see who it is, then pull them over based on something illegitimate. Maybe they knew that person and weren't fond of them, so they pull them over. I'm not saying all police officers would do this, but it's a thought.

What's your stance? Are the two traffic-related technologies similar, and do their purposes outweigh the potential to be abused?

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Abused by our trustworthy police?
By toyotabedzrock on 6/24/2011 3:35:35 PM , Rating: 3
Blasphemy I tell you!

RE: Abused by our trustworthy police?
By toyotabedzrock on 6/24/2011 3:42:51 PM , Rating: 2
Once they can catch every wrong thing done on Wall Street then they can track my plates.

They collect plate numbers of activists all the time. And the data is already being send across state lines.

They will use this to associate people with crimes that the evidence doesn't support.

By RivuxGamma on 6/25/2011 4:09:02 PM , Rating: 2
They could always take the Facebook/Google route of logging where that person is and at what time and sell it to advertising companies who want to make more money. Especially so if they correlated the data from different sources so that you get "personalized" ads at every waking moment.

Not that I agree.
By SlyNine on 6/24/2011 1:44:39 PM , Rating: 2
But "In my opinion, I think both are helpful tools in reducing crime and accidents. I don't condone car theft or the running of red lights, and if there is a way of reducing the number of occurrences, I'm all for it. But in the back of my mind, I have to wonder if police could scan a license plate and see who it is, then pull them over based on something illegitimate. Maybe they knew that person and weren't fond of them, so they pull them over. I'm not saying all police officers would do this, but it's a thought"

Is a pretty poor reason. I mean if the officer seen them they could do that anyways right. This is no different.

But, I digress. Information is power, we continue to give government more and more of it, and at some point it will be used at the disadvantage of innocent people to catch a few bad guys.

One more point I'd like to make, as an IP address does not equal a person, neither does the license plate, how do they know who to send the ticket to?

RE: Not that I agree.
By FITCamaro on 7/6/2011 9:02:37 AM , Rating: 3
Because nearly all red light cameras take a picture of the person driving as well as your plate. So if it wasn't you, you can prove it. If it was, you have no way to say it wasn't. I have no problem with red light cameras. You are breaking the law if you run a red light and potentially killing someone. I feel no sympathy for you because a cop didn't pull you over and you still got in trouble.

Now constant on cameras that read license plates to find stolen cars and help solve murders, again, I fail to see the problem. As long as that's all its being used for. Now when it comes out that its being used to track people, then those responsible will be punished.

I generally have little issue with local government actions. Because those in charge are pretty easy to change. Local governments have authority to do these things. It's the federal government that does not.

I don't like them...
By MrBlastman on 6/24/2011 1:48:54 PM , Rating: 2
I'm somewhat of a romantic for the days of old. The days where the dusty tumbleweed would topple through the air in a supple breeze, brushing up against your ankles as it lazily made its way across the brown, dirty street up the wooden steps and down the clapboard-covered sidewalks. Sidewalks plain as brown knotted wood, all that for but a single, white poster on the wall that bore the words "WANTED" at the top.

Back when a single Lawman in town held the peace. When sixguns ruled the land, and a single man with a badge was chosen with much trepidation and fear to stand tall, all alone--alone when everyone else had slammed and locked their shutters shut, cowering behind their doors, fearful of the sweat-drenched, rag-tag band of misfits that strolled into town.

And once high-noon came to the peak of the clock, justice would ring out to the crack of one, two three, as only one would remain standing, the other--the other, fallen over with their shiny, gleaming sidearm landing in the dirt with a poof of dust, wisping right up the road.

Times were simpler back then. The bandits could attack in numbers and for quite some time remain free--free that is until a posse was formed and they were routed out from the roughages in the outskirts. That or by the hands of that one, lonely man.

So my point, really, is the efficacy of these systems can not be doubted one bit. At the same time, though, they condition us towards increased violation of our liberties which, over the last hundred years or so, have been steadily decreasing in the name of justice.

And for what, really? More than a hundred years ago we hid behind our doors and cowered in our homes as the Sheriff took on the bad and evils. Now we feel that we're more free than ever before if we have these cameras, these technologies that are overseeing us at all times... oblivious to the facts that we really aren't free. These cameras and computers that serve to protect us--are actually serving to incarcerate us in our own society as we steadily become more and more enslaven to them as the days go by.

So really, to answer your question--they are a double-edged sword. As easily as they serve to protect us, they also freely serve to potentially imprison us as well. I long for those days of old, I really do...

RE: I don't like them...
By tng on 7/8/2011 11:41:57 AM , Rating: 2
When sixguns ruled the land.... when everyone else had slammed and locked their shutters shut, cowering behind their doors, fearful of the sweat-drenched, rag-tag band of misfits that strolled into town.
Really now, you watch to much TV.

You also don't realize that it was not as lawless as you think. People don't know that back in the wild west times most people were armed, just common sense.

Where I grew up almost everybody had some kind of gun handy at home or in the vehicle. Never had any violent crime. Criminals hate it when potential victims are armed....

Are you saying they don't do this?
By wordsworm on 6/28/2011 5:59:33 AM , Rating: 2
I have to wonder if police could scan a license plate and see who it is, then pull them over based on something illegitimate.

I have a cousin in the RCMP in Quebec, who said that they're instructed to stop black men in nice cars. I don't think they really need a license plate reader in order to pull someone over for an illegitimate reason. My family is a bit sensitive to this since about 2/3 of us are white and the other 1/3 are black. Not to mention Donald, who used to play/fight in the NHL, is the richest of the lot of us and he's black.

By Dark Legion on 7/7/2011 11:58:49 AM , Rating: 2
Not to mention Donald, who used to play/fight in the NHL, is the richest of the lot of us and he's black.

Are you talking about who I think you're talking about?

That is horrible though, even Canadians are profiling? I do have a friend here though who got pulled over for being black and driving a caddy CTS, not doing anything wrong mind you, and had his entire car searched, and of course was released without a ticket once they were done not finding anything.

same old crap
By Mike Acker on 7/2/2011 7:15:19 AM , Rating: 2
they say its this or that and use it to pinch motorists for traffic fines. there should be NO DRIVER POINTS on automated tickets because all they are doing is pinching the public. the right idea is to continue to move forward with computer control of vehicles. i don't like that idea either but it would help control aggressive drivers and even people who drive with their parking lights on or who can't manage to turn on their lights in the rain

RE: same old crap
By Dark Legion on 7/7/2011 12:13:42 PM , Rating: 2
People also have to realize that driving does take some aggression. Nobody likes a little bi%ch that doesn't know how to merge properly, or wont because his/her rpm might go over 2000, or worst of all people that just cant drive at all (straight lines, up to the speed limits, turns and even slight curves, lights like you mentioned). That said, you're right that would be the right direction to avoid accidents (assuming the systems work) and violations, but i don't like that either, it takes all the fun out of being on the road.

is APNR new ?
By leexgx on 7/2/2011 7:51:44 PM , Rating: 2

APNR has been in the UK and other places for an bit now (any 4x4 , estate or unmarked cars norm have it in the UK)

norm used for no MOT, tax or insurance mainly, but also for drug or stolen tagging (car been reported to police for drug use so it gets an drug tag so the car gets checked when APNR in the car sees the number plate)

there are fixed APNR cam's as well (they are not speed cams) so when one enters an zone the any cop car can pull it over along the way if they have what ever tag is on the car (norm 4-5 i think)

there are avg speed cam APNR but they are norm only used when highway is been worked on (thankfully as most of us do 80-90MPH as we have small highways here there be very long que's if Avg speed cams was placed at some points)

i do not see what Red cam has to do with APNR (apart from catching them with no tax, MOT or insurance) i do not support red light cams (in the UK red/yellow light needs to be on longer then 2 secs, needs to be 5 secs) as i nearly got court out on one when i was behind an bus (i am not an red light runner)

the APNR does need an complete US data base with insurance company and state support for it to work correctly (and an Set US numberplate layout standard as UK all plates are the same US seem to just make there own up per state)

RE: is APNR new ?
By Johnmcl7 on 7/12/2011 6:07:57 PM , Rating: 2
To the US yes, we're 'lucky' in the UK to have an extensive automated speed camera network and ANPR usage although currently none of the automated cameras also do ANPR for other offences. I don't have a problem with the use of ANPR most of the time particularly as their main target is frequently those avoiding insurance but I think the Section 59 system is highly flawed. Under this system your car gets a marker (not the driver) which means it trips ANPR each time and you're likely to get pulled over far more often. Get two of these section 59's and your car is impounded. What's worrying is you can get a section 59 warning simply due to someone reporting you and there's no appeal procedure even if you've bought the car and it was the previous driver that got the warning, it's a struggle to get the market removed.

I have nothing against red light cameras either as I think running red lights is dangerous and should be prevented, the amber light is on for three seconds (plus or minus half a second) and from tests I've seen in the US (where apparently there have been debates on changing the amber time) on this issue a longer amber time doesn't make any difference in practice.


Kinda Flawed
By borismkv on 7/12/2011 12:23:51 PM , Rating: 2
Seems like this would be really easy to defeat with a magic marker if you were had stolen the car...

RE: Kinda Flawed
By mindless1 on 7/14/2011 8:24:33 PM , Rating: 2
Yep, practically all car thieves whip out a magic marker and change the plate # before breaking in an driving away, and practically no law enforcement officers on the road would notice a vehicle's plate was altered with a marker... markers tend to yield perfect results.

Yes it "might" foil the camera detection, but if someone is thinking ahead this much they could:

A) Think ahead and get a job to earn money for a car.

B) Think ahead and steal a license plate off (any random if not a similar) another vehicle.

C) Take the bus.

By jmunjr on 7/8/2011 10:05:50 PM , Rating: 1
Since red light cameras have been turned off in Houston late last year accidents at intersections have dropped 16%.

Sadly they are probably coming back on because the city is corrupt and managed to weasel their way into having the courts invalidate the referendum...

By NINaudio on 7/15/2011 11:09:27 AM , Rating: 2
I was just thinkking the same thing. I've read enough studies that also show it increases accidents. Basically people slam on their brakes and are rear-ended by the person following.

By Heinrich62 on 6/24/2011 7:31:02 PM , Rating: 2
Politicians drive, and so do their families, and that would make one wonder why they would want to have red light cameras and license plate recognition around, since those technologies have the potential to document their and their family's foibles. Here's why they're unconcerned. An article ("Special License Plates Shield Officials from Traffic Tickets") said that in California there are nearly one million PRIVATE vehicles having 'confidential' license plate numbers that are protected from easy or efficient look up, thus are effectively invisible to agencies attempting to process parking, toll, and red light camera violations. (Orange County Register, Santa Ana, CA.) That "protected" list includes politicians - even local ones - bureaucrats, retired cops, govt. employees, and their families - including adult children! Plus such oddities as veterinarians and museum guards. This scam is written into the law: Cal. Veh. Code 1808.4. Could it happen in your state? You should check.

By BZDTemp on 6/28/2011 12:59:09 PM , Rating: 2
It's used to track cars over a distance in order to record average commuter speed and then provide accurate routing and travel time info on signs.

The system could easily be changed to hand out speeding tickets but rather than do that the individual data is simply discarded. Instead what we get are traffic sign telling accurately how much time to something five exits over and in rush hour the speed limits will match what makes traffic flow best.

Split view
By Miqunator on 7/6/2011 12:10:48 AM , Rating: 2
By default I'm usually against these big brothery things but sounds way too useful to not use as long as it isn't misused.

<quote from spider man> and all that.

From where I come from the trust for the Police is still very high, either they are very good at hiding their misdemeanours or they are actually 'good guys'. I would definitely be against the whole thing if the case was different

I like the plate tech
By overlandpark4me on 7/8/2011 11:21:21 PM , Rating: 2
They use the License Plate Recognition in my area in their cars. It lets them focus on their driving and the hits they get do a nice job on getting suspended drivers off the road, most of who are DUI related.

License Plate is State Property
By Grast on 7/11/2011 3:07:00 PM , Rating: 2
while I can understand people being concerned about big brother, this is a moot point. I believe all if not most of the states have laws or court ruleing which state the license plate is property of the state. As such, the state and its representative (Police, traffic enforcement) have the right to scan/look-up the license plate number at any time. It does not violate your 4th amendment rights of search and seizer for an officer of the state to lookup the information associated with a license plate.

I know this is true in California.

So in my opinion, I would rather the state deploy more of these types of items which are more than just traffic rule enforcement.


Obviously Both
By mindless1 on 7/14/2011 8:19:38 PM , Rating: 2
Obviously they provide benefits as well as an invasion of privacy.

Since we don't want a big brother state, we should feel compelled to give up the benefits to retain the small measure of privacy.

First they came...

By xiaomai on 7/18/2011 7:27:42 AM , Rating: 2

I tide fashion
not expensive
Free transport

Used in airports
By damage75 on 7/20/2011 9:55:25 PM , Rating: 2
Where this tech is seriously used is airports. By seriously, I mean in every major airport every car that comes in/out has the plate read. This has a couple of benefits (for the good guys):

1) If you lose your parking ticket, it doesn't really matter, but if you steal a car (mismatching ID with "in" record) it matters a lot.

2) If the plate has been BOLO'ed, well, they found you.

3) If you try to switch plates in the airport lot, for whatever reason, you're toast, since the more advanced systems link the plate with the car parameters.

There are other things going on too, including periodic scans of parked cars with a mobile unit. This allows abandoned cars to be tagged. You would be amazed at how many people lose their cars in big airports. With this system they can take you right to it.

So while I'm *not* in favor of red-light, or even highway, electronic tagging, doing it in an airport is actually a good idea.

One other thing, not yet implemented afaik; Don't be surprised if that same system has a picture of the driver pulling the ticket. I'll let you use your imagination on that.

By Rob94hawk on 6/26/2011 5:48:59 AM , Rating: 1
The Anti-American Criminals Liberties Union has no chance in fighting this since it's scanning a PUBLIC road. It's not in their driveway or pointed at their house.

The people that are against this are almost always the ones that have something to hide. And of course conspiracy luntatics...

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