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Raleigh police Officer John Maultsby says the new scanning system is safe and is working to catch crooks.  (Source: Keith Baker/WRAL)

The American Civil Liberties Union has request more information to determine if the scanning violations privacy protections, based on current legal interpretation of the Bill of Rights.  (Source: ACLU)
Raleigh, NC police system stores records of your license plates and location

Would it bother you if there was a record of where you were at all times, stored in a public database? That's the concern that citizens in Raleigh, North Carolina have expressed. 

Raleigh area police have just adopted a new Automated License Plate Reader system that they say will make citizens in the region more secure.  The system consists of four cameras mounted to police cruisers that automatically read license plates of nearby cars (the cost to outfit each cruiser can cost between $18,000 to $20,000).  The results are sent back to the police headquarters, where they are scanned for matches in the national criminal database.

The police say the system is working great.  It has already help recover several stolen vehicles and locate at least one missing person.  Describes Officer John Maultsby, "With this technology, it can read hundreds of plates in a couple of seconds if there are that many plates for it to see."

The system, however, is stirring up controversy.  Some take issue with the fact that your license plate information and location is stored both in the police cruiser and at the police headquarters, regardless of if you committed a crime.  The police have not made it clear how long this information is stored.

Such information could be dangerous if it was stolen.  It could reveal many embarrassing, but perfectly legal behaviors. Given that government databases are routinely compromised by hackers, many worry about the possibility of privacy risks to law-abiding citizens.

Raleigh is home to roughly 400,000 U.S. citizens.  It is the state capital of North Carolina, and the state's second largest city.  Numerous colleges, including North Carolina State University, Shaw University, Peace College, and St. Augustine's College, are located in Raleigh.  The students at these schools are taking note of the debate, and many have strong opinions on it.

States N.C. State student Ian Kilgore, "It’s just privacy. Even though I am not doing anything wrong, and I don’t have anything to hide, I still don’t want people to know where I am at any given time."

The U.S. Constitution contains no specific mention of a "right to privacy", but the precedent set by the highest court in the U.S., the Supreme Court, interprets the 9th Amendment to offer privacy protections.  Important cases that established this precedent include several contraception-related cases (the Griswold and Eisenstadt cases), an interracial marriage case (the Loving case), and the well-known abortion case, Roe v Wade. 

The 9th amendment states:

The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.

Other amendments in the Bill of Rights also been interpreted to provide privacy protections, such as the 3rd, the 4th's search and seizure limits, and the 5th's self-incrimination limit.

The American Civil Liberties Union, a U.S. rights watchdog group, has not challenged the new system, but has expressed its concern.  It has sent a letter to the Raleigh police asking for a copy of their policy concerning the use of the scanners.  The policy would likely reveal information such as how long location information is stored and what kind of protections are in place to prevent its accidental release.

Jennifer Rudinger with the ACLU of N.C. comments, "If an officer does not get a hit when scanning a plate, then there is no legitimate reason for law enforcement to keep it on file for any length of time."

Concerns over similar systems have been raised nationwide in Washington D.C. and elsewhere.



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*bzzz* wrong
By Spivonious on 3/31/2010 11:49:24 AM , Rating: 5
You're out in public. There is nothing stopping a person from manually writing down license plates from surrounding cars. So it's definitely not illegal.

Is it unethical? Yeah probably. Keeping the data for more than a couple of minutes seems to be against the reason for the system.




RE: *bzzz* wrong
By therealnickdanger on 3/31/2010 12:02:18 PM , Rating: 1
quote:
You're out in public. There is nothing stopping a person from manually writing down license plates from surrounding cars. So it's definitely not illegal.

Not only that, it's part of what we PAY cops to do already! This just happens to be an even more efficient use of taxpayer dollars. Sure, it's expensive to implement, but the recovery of just one stolen car per installation could offset that.

There are certainly "cloak and dagger" elements that could be abused, but that true for everything - especially the stuff we don't even know about! Oh crap, I've already said too muc-


RE: *bzzz* wrong
By Adonlude on 3/31/2010 12:32:11 PM , Rating: 4
Hey why stop there. Lets put a GPS in every persons car and have the data constantly monitored by Big Brother. Throw a camera in there too with a microphone and an electronic system that constantly monitors your speed. Then if you accidentally go over 65 they can instantly ticket you and when you get upset and swear over the ticket they can then fine you 1 credit for violation of the verbal morality code.

If you are willing to let the gubernment reach deeper into your life you either don't read history, don't read books, or are just plain dumb.


RE: *bzzz* wrong
By porkpie on 3/31/2010 12:37:56 PM , Rating: 5
"Hey why stop there. Lets put a GPS in every persons car"

Do you really not see the difference between the government FORCING you to have a GPS in your own car, and divulge that information to them, opposed to a police office (or an electronic agent of a police officer) recording information freely obtainable in a public setting?

It's amazing to me the pudding-headed mindset that sees a problem with the government writing down tag numbers on public streets-- but is perfectly OK with forcing private citizens to do things like buy health insurance.


RE: *bzzz* wrong
By Flahrydog on 3/31/2010 1:14:37 PM , Rating: 3
What if the GPS will only be actively storing your location when your on public roads. Does that help?
Have you heard of Pay-by-Mile? This is exactly what the government is proposing. And my state, MA, is considering it. I will never allow a GPS to be installed in my car.

http://reason.com/archives/2006/07/20/pay-by-the-m...

I am not OK with storing the location of my car (by paper, computer, or GPS) and I am not OK with the government mandating we buy health insurance (which is waaaayy of topic btw)


RE: *bzzz* wrong
By Flahrydog on 3/31/2010 1:16:56 PM , Rating: 2
*off topic*


RE: *bzzz* wrong
By knutjb on 4/1/2010 2:34:28 PM , Rating: 3
No its not, its simply the justification for the next step down the path of unreasonable search and seizure.

I rarely agree with the ACLU but sometimes they do get it right. Someone in Raleigh PD needs to read the Constitution. You as a citizen can write down license plate numbers all you want the government cannot. Way too much private info is already in Gov hands and it needs to be reduced, yes even if it makes life more difficult for police. Maybe that's why we don't have a police state constitution.


RE: *bzzz* wrong
By ElrondElvish on 3/31/10, Rating: -1
RE: *bzzz* wrong
By bhieb on 3/31/10, Rating: 0
RE: *bzzz* wrong
By ironargonaut on 3/31/2010 2:29:39 PM , Rating: 5
Having entered license plates into the national computer system let me point out how they are stored regardless of the local police system.
EVERY license plate that is ran through the NCIS computers is stored. The time and the agent iniating the search are also stored. This data can then be accessed by ANYONE in the country with the proper clearance to get full reports. Example, young woman went missing on trip between states. Computer search was done to see if her licensce plate or id had been ran through the system. The system showed she had been stopped for speeding in Wyoming allowing indentification of officer who stopped her. Unfortunately, none of this helped. She was later found in a river tied down w/blocks.
The point is once the data is entered into the system it is in there for good. Not, only can someone in the state get the data, but others outside the state can also. All this data is stored in the federal computer system that tracks warrants. Some data has a limited life span of a year or so, others are forever. I know for a fact officers when bored drive through hotel parking lots at night and run licensce plates checking for warrants, but they had to do it manually. Now they can just drive through the parking lot or grocery store or, the parking lot for the antiwar rally etc..

It is only logical that the system if not stopped would soon be applied to traffic cameras etc. As a private non-public citizen it is illegal for a person to follow me when I leave my house and publish every where I go. Even if they don't publish, it is still called stalking. What you are implying is that it is ok for the gov't to do the same.


RE: *bzzz* wrong
By therealnickdanger on 3/31/10, Rating: -1
RE: *bzzz* wrong
By thrust2night on 4/1/2010 5:35:09 PM , Rating: 1
Thank you for the useless and idiotic post you just made. On the same note, let's just call in the national guard in every town and have a curfew starting 7pm. This would be a better way to stop those... what did you call them? a**holes, no?

Understand these words: "The end does not justify the means".


RE: *bzzz* wrong
By flurazepam on 3/31/2010 4:55:07 PM , Rating: 3
quote:
Do you really not see the difference between the government FORCING you to have a GPS in your own car, and divulge that information to them, opposed to a police office (or an electronic agent of a police officer) recording information freely obtainable in a public setting?


Yes, one is oppression and the other is stalking.


RE: *bzzz* wrong
By Mojo the Monkey on 3/31/2010 4:59:47 PM , Rating: 2
the means and method are becoming less and less relevant, given the ability to comprehensively and passively track people.

the capacity for abuse is the EXACT reason why people should oppose this.


RE: *bzzz* wrong
By foolsgambit11 on 3/31/2010 9:01:24 PM , Rating: 3
Funny, but the government takes the opposite stance when it comes to their information. Take a large amount of freely available public information regarding the actions of our armed forces and put it together, and you can find out a lot about what the military is up to. That's why the military discourages the release of information, even when it's unclassified.

The same principle applies to an individual's information. The protection of privacy is a matter of pragmatics, not just principle. Even if some information is freely available, and the collection of each piece of the puzzle is, in principle, just fine, new means to collect and analyze this information en masse can threaten privacy. When courts decide issues like this, they usually look at the issue pragmatically, not just theoretically, for that very reason.


RE: *bzzz* wrong
By Reclaimer77 on 3/31/2010 9:36:04 PM , Rating: 3
quote:
It's amazing to me the pudding-headed mindset that sees a problem with the government writing down tag numbers on public streets-- but is perfectly OK with forcing private citizens to do things like buy health insurance.


I'm against both. Am I pudding headed ?

I live near Raleigh and I just find it hilarious that they claim they can't track or do anything about the gangs of illegal immigrants destroying communities with crime and drugs and whoring, but they can damn sure put together a system to track everyone's daily activities through license plates.


RE: *bzzz* wrong
By rdawise on 3/31/2010 11:41:56 PM , Rating: 2
First of all their is no "privacy" in public (that's why it's called public).

I'm curious Reclaimer, where abouts in NC (since I happen to live here as well) are you seeing "gangs of illegal immigrants destroying communities with crime and drugs and whoring" (that's a lot of "and"'s buddy).

I guess if you don't want to be tracked while driving on a "public" street you could always, not drive....


RE: *bzzz* wrong
By Reclaimer77 on 4/1/2010 1:46:47 AM , Rating: 5
I love you statist's who think if you are out in public, we can just throw the constitution out the window.

This isn't about "privacy". This is about the government, who taxes you and has been constantly looking to decrease your freedoms, also needing to know where you are at all times, where you go, and how you get there. Can you not see a big difference ?

quote:
I'm curious Reclaimer, where abouts in NC (since I happen to live here as well) are you seeing "gangs of illegal immigrants destroying communities with crime and drugs and whoring" (that's a lot of "and"'s buddy).


I live in Charlotte. And since about 7 years ago when they decided to try and offer drivers licenses to illegals, there has been an absolute flood of illegal Mexicans resulting in a crime wave. And don't pull the racist card with me, it's 100% related to illegals and you know it. South Boulevard, once a pretty respectable place, is now nicknamed South American Boulevard and it's an absolute slum rife with crime and drug related activities. I can't even go there anymore, it's just a dump now. Statistics don't lie.

quote:
I guess if you don't want to be tracked while driving on a "public" street you could always, not drive....


I guess you can go to hell ? I pay my taxes and keep my nose clean. Show me in the Constitution where the government needs to be able to "track" me on public streets without cause or suspicion. You can't ! Unless I have done, or am suspected of having done, some crime you are goddamn right I shouldn't be followed, tracked, or monitored.

You stupid ignorant shills for the government are why we're in the mess we are today. What is so wrong, in your eyes, about questioning government authority ? Especially when it infringes on your rights and privacy ? It is EVERYONE'S civic duty to look at things like this and say "hey, let's talk about this because it could be wrong. It doesn't actually fix anything, and asks me to abdicate more liberties."


RE: *bzzz* wrong
By Arc177 on 4/1/2010 2:30:14 PM , Rating: 2
Proverbial nail on the head. It seems to me that people are forgetting about cause here, citizens are being investigated without just cause under this system all to justify to the public a glorified lottery system. Under this system all citizens are assumed guilty. This violates due process to no end.
How about we just kick down everyone's doors and if they haven't done anything wrong we say sorry? Spare me the public non-sense. If driving my car makes me a suspect of a crime then our country is surely turning into a tyrannical state.


RE: *bzzz* wrong
By monkeyman1140 on 4/4/2010 8:34:42 AM , Rating: 3
Thats because big business wants illegal aliens. Cheap labor ya know. The public may not want them, but the public is powerless.


RE: *bzzz* wrong
By eldakka on 3/31/2010 11:40:02 PM , Rating: 1
quote:
Do you really not see the difference between the government FORCING you to have a GPS in your own car, and divulge that information to them, opposed to a police office (or an electronic agent of a police officer) recording information freely obtainable in a public setting?


Oh, like you aren't FORCED to have a license plate on your car? And you aren't FORCED to divulge the address of the registered owner?

The government already forces you to do several things to your vehicle to identify it, the owner, the address of the owner and so on. Once they implement a system of monitoring and storing movements based on license plate recognition, is it really that much further to be FORCED to have a GPS that, at the very least, stores internally your journey history and is subject to sopena?


RE: *bzzz* wrong
By Modeverything on 3/31/2010 1:24:15 PM , Rating: 4
quote:
they can then fine you 1 credit for violation of the verbal morality code.


But if Simon Phoenix stole a car and swore while in it, then we could send John Spartan after him. ;)


RE: *bzzz* wrong
By corduroygt on 3/31/2010 1:28:45 PM , Rating: 2
But you could use the 1-credit tickets as TP since they never explain how to use the 3 f'n seashells in tbe bathroom.


RE: *bzzz* wrong
By therealnickdanger on 3/31/2010 1:40:20 PM , Rating: 2
Haven't you heard? They already do that! Well, not the government, but American Family Insurance.

http://www.teensafedriver.com/

Parents will do anything for the safety of their kids, even if it means training them to be spied on while they drive. The battle is lost already. If not us, our kids will expect to be immediately reprimanded by automated systems for their entire lives.

P.S. I just watched Demolition Man last night, are you spying on me?


RE: *bzzz* wrong
By gerstena on 3/31/2010 2:49:46 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
Hey why stop there. Lets put a GPS in every persons car and have the data constantly monitored by Big Brother. Throw a camera in there too with a microphone and an electronic system that constantly monitors your speed.


Actually this is kinda already there. OnStar uses a cell phone when can be triangulated. Additionally OnStar has already been used by the Feds to silently turn on the mic's in the car for wire tapping.

You will also find that there are plenty of electronic toll readers (Such as E-Pass) that are not on toll roads.

If the data is there, it will be used officially or "unofficially".


RE: *bzzz* wrong
By inperfectdarkness on 3/31/2010 4:02:47 PM , Rating: 2
or 1/2 credit for a sotto voce violation of the verbal morality code, if you happen to be lenina huxley.


RE: *bzzz* wrong
By Fritzr on 3/31/2010 4:36:18 PM , Rating: 2
You haven't heard of OnStar? They plug their ability to monitor you as a feature. In the event of an accident you don't need to call them, the system will phone home. What they don't advertise is that they can initiate a connection at any time with nothing in the car indicating that OnStar is monitoring, live, your position and anything that is audible. This was revealed in another news report lauding OnStar for using this ability to aid law enforcement. Of course they would *never* do this without proper authorization. But that assumes everyone follows the rules...if that were true then the police would have very little to do beyond education and emergency assistance :)

Tinfoil hat time? yes, but the ability to misuse is there.


RE: *bzzz* wrong
By EasyC on 4/1/2010 12:23:29 PM , Rating: 2
I remember reading an article once of the government trying to use OnStar for this purpose.

What the hell kind of cameras cost 20k to outfit on a police cruiser??? Are you telling me they won't use this to write more tickets?

It's just another method to sap more money out of the general public.


RE: *bzzz* wrong
By Reclaimer77 on 4/1/2010 11:47:28 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
Not only that, it's part of what we PAY cops to do already! This just happens to be an even more efficient use of taxpayer dollars. Sure, it's expensive to implement, but the recovery of just one stolen car per installation could offset that.


I find the parallels between this issue and the Bush administration wire tapping amusing. Because most people for the police doing this, would probably be against what Bush did.

If the argument is that you are out in public, using state roads, so you have no expectation of privacy is true then we can easily apply that to wire tapping. You are using taxpayer public funded phone lines when you talk to somebody. Why is it just assumed you have a right to privacy then but NOT when you are driving ?

See the problem here is we have allowed the government to dictate and divide us and nitpick what we consider rights, and infringement of rights, because we have allowed our society to think our rights are handed down from the Government. This is not the case.

See the Framers, our Founders, believed that we have guaranteed rights already granted to us by being human beings. They called these "inalienable rights". They believed these rights and freedoms came from a higher power, NOT the pieces of paper they were writing and signing. And that the point of the Constitution was to make it so the government could NOT infringe on those, in fact the government was charged with protecting them.

The United States of America was formed from this very ideal. That life, liberty, freedoms, and the pursuit of happiness were undeniable rights. Granted to us NOT from the country or the government, but simply because they were absolute rights. Period. No if's, and's, or but's. In fact this is the very reason the Constitution was written as a "negative rights" bill. It doesn't bother listing all the things the Government can't do, but only what it can and should do. Everything else is illegal, period. Or to be added later through a legal system of "amendments" to make it so.

Fast forward some 200 years later, and think about how that has changed. Really, just think about it please.


RE: *bzzz* wrong
By thrust2night on 4/1/2010 5:41:26 PM , Rating: 2
Thank you Sir. Very well said.


RE: *bzzz* wrong
By JonnyDough on 3/31/2010 12:04:57 PM , Rating: 2
I have to wonder if we're not already able to track people's whereabouts for a good month using GPS. If you rob a liquor store and make a getaway with a blue sedan there's probably a good chance they'll track your sedan anyway.

When trying to figure out who a serial killer is, this kind of information could be pretty vital. If there are five guys who regularly visit an area on certain nights when killings take place and there are five killings that take place there over twenty years but only one guy lives there during that entire time then it would seem that the cops might have a good suspect to investigate. Initial costs for this system might seem high, but when you figure in the costs saved on investigation over a long period of time it may make the system well worth the money.

This is another one of those instances where the "Liberty vs safety" question is raised.

To quote it before anyone else does, because I believe it to be applicable:

"They that can give up essential liberty to obtain a little temporary safety deserve neither liberty nor safety." ~ Benjamin Franklin


RE: *bzzz* wrong
By fcx56 on 3/31/2010 12:42:26 PM , Rating: 4
Why can't anyone seem to understand that GPS is a passive system? You really think your car/cell/TomTom/whatever is actively sending data to GPS satellites? Sure they could track you, if the liquor store owner was too busy to notice you stealing that bottle Jim Beam because he was out in his parking lot covertly installing GPS data loggers with 3G transmitters then yeah, I guess he could track you. Or more logically just use his store security camera to grab your plate in the parking lot and then Raliegh cops would find you almost automatically the next time you drove by a cruiser.
Your serial killer example is slightly more sound, assuming you had a cop car stationed outside the victims homes. This tech doesn't track you so much as fix your location every time you pass a squad (under ideal conditions such as lighting and an unobstructed view). I can count many days I drive and don't encounter police for the whole day. No automatic vehicle "status updates" then!


RE: *bzzz* wrong
By porkpie on 3/31/2010 12:49:39 PM , Rating: 3
"I can count many days I drive and don't encounter police for the whole day. No automatic vehicle "status updates" then!"

The next logical step is license plate cameras in stop lights and highway signs, recording with or without the presence of a police cruiser. In fact, some cities have this already, in the form of auto "red light ticketing" systems.


RE: *bzzz* wrong
By therealnickdanger on 3/31/10, Rating: 0
RE: *bzzz* wrong
By porkpie on 3/31/2010 5:08:00 PM , Rating: 2
There are many actions we can easily take to reduce illegal activity. Remove the right to appeal, and institute an automatic death penalty for all felony offenses is one. Allow police officers to make "no-knock" warrantless searches of any house at any time. Force all citizens to wear GPS tracking devices at all times. Preventing speeding is even easier...install speed governors on all vehicles.

It's easy to reduce crime. The problem is doing it without trampling on civil liberties.

It's easy to say "you're in public: you have no expectation of privacy". But any time a person steps outside their home, they're in public. It's an easy step to go from this system, to a nationwide web that tracks the location of every citizen in real time.

Furthermore, it's easy to see such information being used not only to stop violent crimes, but used to aid the IRS in tax collection, or in divorce cases or other civil suits, or even abused by government employees to harass people (remember how Joe the Plumber's govt' records were accessed and revealed by pro-Obama supporter).


RE: *bzzz* wrong
By therealnickdanger on 4/1/2010 2:19:43 PM , Rating: 2
When you *allowed* to drive on public roads, you agree to abide by the laws in place. Failure to observe those laws results in fines, punishments, revocation, etc. It's really simple to understand.

I never said you have "no expectation of privacy" while in public, but running a red light and killing a family of four is a very public issue. It's an illegal action. Whether or not the crime results in damage to persons or property does not affect its status as a crime. Would it be different if a bystander with a camera took the picture of the crash VS a thoroughly tested and calibrated "photocop"? The crash still happened and the lives of those who didn't take illegal action are forever disrupted. Even if no one died, the crime still occurred. The picture is taken, an authorized person reviews the photo, and the fine is sent. Apparently, people stop running red lights. Who knew?

Red light cameras reduce the criminal act of red light running, which in turn reduces the number of incidents associated with that crime. In a free and public society, the people are allowed to install them in order to recieve the benefits (money and safety). Arguing "privacy" is definitely not a strong case.


RE: *bzzz* wrong
By thrust2night on 4/1/2010 5:58:25 PM , Rating: 2
Sir, arguing privacy is in fact a strong case. You used the crash example and compared it to a bystander and a photocop. To answer your question, it would be different if a bystander took the photo or if it was taken by a camera installed by the police. The latter is designed to take pictures in that location 24/7. That is its purpose, its "intent". The bystander happened to be at the right place at the right time. Now let me ask you this, what if these photocops were upgraded to make recordings 24/7 of the cars in their line of sight instead of taking a picture only if I run a red light? With all the cameras around the United States, and even in the town I live in, it would be very easy for my daily routes to become public knowledge.

I agree with you that it is a free and public society and because of this, we have the right to question the implementation of such technologies by our government.

The death you described is a very tragic example, but that does not give the government the right to ignore people's right to privacy. Our rights are important, if not, why wouldn't the government just ban alcohol? This would stop drunk drivers from running people over when they drink and drive. Why not simply monitor peoples phone conversations? This would help the government identify and catch terrorists and save thousands of families.

Is arguing privacy a strong case only when it is blatantly obvious? or is is better for us to err on the side of caution when it comes to respecting our rights to privacy and anonymity?


RE: *bzzz* wrong
By Chernobyl68 on 4/1/2010 6:33:38 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
why wouldn't the government just ban alcohol?


...'cause its been tried?


RE: *bzzz* wrong
By JonnyDough on 4/1/2010 7:51:11 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
You really think your car/cell/TomTom/whatever is actively sending data to GPS satellites?


Yes. In fact I'm pretty sure my Droid does, especially since its part of the TOS of using some of the programs on it. Ever hear of Latitude? Accurate within 3 meters.

Consider for a second that the resources in your telephone are getting vastly greater. Processing power in these little gadgets is amazing. It really doesn't take much to track you...and the hardware and software is getting more and more complex. So do I think that I can be tracked using my phone without my permission? Does China hack our government networks and are we hacking theirs? Yes.


RE: *bzzz* wrong
By Arc177 on 4/1/2010 2:50:25 PM , Rating: 2
Ehh, no your phone does not send data to GPS sats. Maybe through your GPS sw on your phone, but definitely not to the GPS satellite constellation...


RE: *bzzz* wrong
By amanojaku on 3/31/2010 12:03:58 PM , Rating: 3
It doesn't matter if an automatic scanner or a pencil-toting human is recording this information. The fact is it's invasive as hell, and being wireless it's prone to be hacked and/or sniffed. There's no transparency at all in this system, either, so who knows how this data is being used?

Anyway, this is America; like it or not, our justice system is largely reactive. Innocent until proven guilty, burden of proof, and all that. Measures like this are proactive, and are a slippery slope to the corrupt activities of totalitarian states. What's next, a curfew? Check points? Paranoid, maybe, possible, yes.


RE: *bzzz* wrong
By JonnyDough on 3/31/2010 12:16:27 PM , Rating: 3
How is it invasive? If you don't like being seen in public, don't go in public. Anyone can follow you walking around town and write down what shops you go into and who you talk to. My suggestion to you:

Join an Amish society and live on a farm.


RE: *bzzz* wrong
By amanojaku on 3/31/2010 12:26:40 PM , Rating: 3
If someone were to follow me around in public making notes like you describe that is harassment and/or stalking, and I can sue if I am aware of it. I'm sure you'd be singing a different tune if you found out someone was following your children or wife around, "just taking notes". Even if it's the police.


RE: *bzzz* wrong
By GaryJohnson on 3/31/2010 12:46:55 PM , Rating: 2
Stalking is very difficult to prove as in most states you generally have to show intent to harass, which short of convincing a judge you can read minds, it pretty well impossible unless the other person is a raving lunatic.

Regardless of that, the system in this article doesn't "follow you around". It takes a snapshot. How often do you think you've been filmed by a security camera or unwittingly photographed by a person pointing their camera at something else? How many of those people have you successfully sued to date?


RE: *bzzz* wrong
By JonnyDough on 3/31/2010 12:54:48 PM , Rating: 1
Sure would. But on the other hand if my neighbors were winding up dead and I was sure my wife didn't do it I'd still cooperate with the cops. When people are dying around you you do what you can to stop it. That might mean locking your doors and arming yourself, but personally I'd rather have the FREEDOM to still go to the shops in town. I'll take the police presence in my life to living in fear.

What if my wife was the next victim? I wouldn't want my car stolen either. What if my child was inside and some guy dragged my wife out of the car and took off with my kid? At some point you have to give up some freedom and trust authority to do the right thing. No man is an island. Welcome to "Public Society 101".


RE: *bzzz* wrong
By sinful on 3/31/2010 9:30:37 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
What if my wife was the next victim? I wouldn't want my car stolen either. What if my child was inside and some guy dragged my wife out of the car and took off with my kid?


WHAT IF the guy that stole your car and kidnapped your kid was able to do so because he got access to this system, and knew when & where she was going to be?

WHAT IF the guy knows where you are, and sets you up because he knows when you don't have an alibi?


RE: *bzzz* wrong
By HotFoot on 3/31/2010 12:30:48 PM , Rating: 3
Anyone doing that to me is going to get charged with stalking. Even in public, I expect a certain social contract where this kind of attention is paid to someone only after some kind of suspicious behaviour is noted.


RE: *bzzz* wrong
By Spivonious on 3/31/2010 12:39:10 PM , Rating: 2
I'm from "Amish Country" (south central PA) and they definitely aren't living secluded lives on the farm. They go to the same stores everyone else does (supermarket, Walmart, Target, etc.).


RE: *bzzz* wrong
By JonnyDough on 3/31/2010 12:50:29 PM , Rating: 2
I have more first hand experience with the Amish. I grew up in Lancaster, and my folks are conservative. Without divulging more about my experiences- needless to say this apple fell from the tree. But you're right. They don't live secluded. The idea though is that they probably could. They come into town to do business and pick up parts mostly. Perhaps I should have said eskimos. :)


RE: *bzzz* wrong
By TheNuts on 3/31/2010 12:59:51 PM , Rating: 2
I'm from South Central PA as well :)


RE: *bzzz* wrong
By porkpie on 3/31/2010 12:47:09 PM , Rating: 2
"How is it invasive? "

The first time you get divorced, and your wife subpoenas the license records to find out every place you've been in the past year, and whether or not you've frequented any motels, strip clubs, liquor shops, or homes of ex-girlfriends -- I think you'll find out just how invasive it can be.

Is it unconstitutional though? I've certainly seen worse abuses accepted. I admit I'm a bit torn on this issue.


RE: *bzzz* wrong
By JonnyDough on 3/31/2010 1:00:37 PM , Rating: 2
I am divorced. Which is also a bit of a "torn issue" :) :(

You sorta have to be torn. While you want to live in society and have laws to be able to live in relative peace without others encroaching upon your rights, you also want freedom. The responsible have freedoms, the irresponsible have freedoms taken away. But you can't have any of that without some form of law and government. That's why government will always exist, and why they will always rise and fall, etc. Good law comes from good people taking a stand, and from behaving in a civil fashion. Our society that wants to "f this and f that" and acts like we'd be better without the police at all well, they don't see the overall picture. You have to give up some freedom in order to experience societal living. It all comes down to space. The fewer people there are in a limited area competing for limited resources, the more freedom we have.

Wanna do something about your world? Get educated and educate. Only with education does population decrease, and only with a decrease in population does freedom increase. We restrict each other - natural law limits what X number of people are able to do within a confined space.


RE: *bzzz* wrong
By tastyratz on 3/31/2010 1:04:17 PM , Rating: 3
Agreed. The system would be acceptable to me if plates were checked against a known database for warrants/stolen cars/etc. (and no data kept). I would have no issue with it in that form... but I just know that there is no government black and white. That slippery slope of gray area would slowly turn into the situation you just listed. They wouldn't leave a system like that well enough alone, and the potential for abuse is enormous without even considering the obviously penetrable security.
How many cheating senators do you think the first hacker will blackmail?


RE: *bzzz* wrong
By cruisin3style on 3/31/2010 3:48:34 PM , Rating: 1
quote:
How is it invasive?


It depends on what information is gathered and stored.

Examples of problem situations:

I'm parked at an abortion clinic.

I'm "home sick" from work, but actually going to the proctologist and don't want people to know.

Yes, someone can follow me around but who would do that when my location and time stamp are "available" from police databases?

Old elementary school bully running for public office, and you're a hacker? GREAT! Here's some intimate information on his whereabouts over the last ____ . Now data mine that sumbitch!

Another example:

I'm going to the proctologist, right? Whoever is following me would have to be there that specific day to catch me going there. OR you could get into this database and see that a squad car passed by the proctologist at 8:15am and my car was there, and then that another squad car rolled by at 9:05am and I was still there, hence probably parked at the proctologist. There are any number of things you might be doing, either embarrasing or immoral, that you wouldn't want other people to know about. And if you could, say, pay someone to hack a police database and find out your behaviors over the last week/month/year/program inception, that's a little bit different than someone happening to follow you to a goldmine of blackmail-dom or embarrassment or whatever they might do with the information gleaned from 1 specific and lucky day.

So while there are a lot of variables and unknowns at this point, and however trivial the information might be in the grand scheme of things, and however unlikely it might or might not be that this would be possible, that it is within the realm of possibility makes it invasive of my belief in humanity that someone could ask how my location being recorded like this could be invasive?


RE: *bzzz* wrong
By Adonlude on 3/31/2010 12:36:22 PM , Rating: 2
What do you mean next? Cities already have curfews for minors. There are already checkpoints looking for drunk drivers. Its a total violation of the constitiution but the courts have made an exception for DUI checkpoints. The founders of America would roll in there graves if they saw what we are becoming.


RE: *bzzz* wrong
By therealnickdanger on 3/31/2010 4:21:41 PM , Rating: 4
Would they? They didn't have cars, so obviously they didn't have checkpoints for drunk drivers, but I'm pretty sure that they supported checkpoints of one kind or another surrounding ships, cargo, and other statutes of port established by their communities.


RE: *bzzz* wrong
By rvd2008 on 3/31/2010 2:50:21 PM , Rating: 2
Yeah, lets also dump license plates - they are invasive as hell as well. And VIN numbers too. SSNs, DLs, IPs etc - get rid of it. Lets all drive anonymously and shoot our guns, drink and swear. Wild-wild-west, YAHOO!!!


RE: *bzzz* wrong
By jbartabas on 3/31/2010 12:15:08 PM , Rating: 5
quote:
You're out in public. There is nothing stopping a person from manually writing down license plates from surrounding cars. So it's definitely not illegal. Is it unethical? Yeah probably. Keeping the data for more than a couple of minutes seems to be against the reason for the system.


I don't think the scanning of the plates is the problem here; it has more to do with the data storing and protection. The transparency about the process seems to be an issue too.

I think the idea of keeping the data only if they bring up something, or keeping them just for a reasonable short term in order to allow for possible delays in the update of the database sounds could satisfy most.


RE: *bzzz* wrong
By Omega215D on 3/31/2010 12:27:02 PM , Rating: 4
I'm all for privacy but when it comes to scanning license plates of vehicles out in public then go for it. I've been in numerous accidents with people who are supposedly driving with a suspended license or driving without insurance. Then there are the accidents when the guy didn't own the car meaning it could be his friend's or stolen.

Operating a vehicle is a privilege and not a right. I didn't mind the police scanning my plates on my motorcycle because there are unlicensed riders out there causing negative press with the public.


RE: *bzzz* wrong
By HotFoot on 3/31/2010 12:36:18 PM , Rating: 5
Definitely I think an automated system that would catch more of the people driving with suspended or expired licenses or in stolen vehicles would be great. That system doesn't need to store information or track people - simply scan the environment and compare the readings to the database of reported thefts and license registry. This limits it to a checking system, rather than something that can be used by authorities to gather information they have no right to collect on law abiding citizens.


RE: *bzzz* wrong
By Kurz on 3/31/2010 2:07:55 PM , Rating: 2
This I can stand behind.
It shouldn't store information at all unless it comes up with a positive.


RE: *bzzz* wrong
By Yawgm0th on 3/31/2010 12:57:24 PM , Rating: 1
quote:
You're out in public. There is nothing stopping a person from manually writing down license plates from surrounding cars. So it's definitely not illegal.
False premise -- You imply that if something is possible, it is not illegal. We wouldn't really need laws if that were the case.

More importantly, false analogy -- There is a huge difference between some person writing down license plates and a government system for which people are taxed that records their locations. The correct analogy would be a police officer tailing you all day, which is not illegal if there's probable cause or a warrant. Driving a car does not, in and of itself, constitute warranting law enforcement to follow the driver around.

Unless there is probable cause, the government should never need to know where people take themselves. It's definitely unethical, and probably unconstitutional.


RE: *bzzz* wrong
By Yojimbo on 3/31/2010 6:40:21 PM , Rating: 2
A new ability which didn't exist before needs to be tested against the previous precedent. It may fall in line with some of the previous precedent but conflict with other portions. This is besides the fact that a new ability should prompt the dicussion of new legislation to deal with it.


RE: *bzzz* wrong
By porkpie on 3/31/2010 6:40:05 PM , Rating: 2
Nice handle...Yojimbo has always been one of my favorite films.


RE: *bzzz* wrong
By Reclaimer77 on 4/1/2010 1:58:59 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
You're out in public. There is nothing stopping a person from manually writing down license plates from surrounding cars. So it's definitely not illegal.


Wrong. The point of a license plate is so that authorities, upon witnessing or suspecting you of performing a crime or traffic violation, can find out who you are and other relevant info about the vehicle like if it is stolen etc etc.

Key phrase here is probable cause. They have a legitimate and tangible REASON to run the plates.

That is a completely different issue than tracking everyone with them. And until you guys stop making kneejerk emotional arguments that aren't relevant to this issue, you are going to keep missing the point.


RE: *bzzz* wrong
By porkpie on 4/1/2010 2:35:23 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
Wrong. The point of a license plate is so that authorities, upon witnessing or suspecting you of performing a crime or traffic violation, can find out who you are
Actually, this isn't even correct. The license plate started as no more than simple proof your vehicle was registered. It only became a "crime fighting tool" once the police found out how useful it was.


RE: *bzzz* wrong
By Reclaimer77 on 4/1/2010 11:30:04 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
Actually, this isn't even correct. The license plate started as no more than simple proof your vehicle was registered. It only became a "crime fighting tool" once the police found out how useful it was.


Again here you go. Nice of you to avoid 99% of the argument and focus on something that is neither relevant or interesting. Oh and last time I checked, driving around in an unregistered vehicle WAS a crime. How how is my statement really "not even correct" ?

What side are you on here anyway ?


RE: *bzzz* wrong
By porkpie on 4/1/2010 11:38:23 AM , Rating: 2
"...and focus on something that is neither relevant or interesting."

You simply fail to see HOW it is relevant and interesting. License plates began as one thing, then once the government saw its ability to keep tabs on us, began being used for something else entirely.

It's the same slippery slope that automated license monitoring will become. It'll start small, and for a single purpose, then quickly become used in a myriad of ways never originally intended.

"What side are you on here anyway ?"

Truth, justice, and the American way.


RE: *bzzz* wrong
By Reclaimer77 on 4/1/2010 12:21:18 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
It's the same slippery slope that automated license monitoring will become. It'll start small, and for a single purpose, then quickly become used in a myriad of ways never originally intended.


Can't argue with that. :)


"When an individual makes a copy of a song for himself, I suppose we can say he stole a song." -- Sony BMG attorney Jennifer Pariser

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