More Questions on Automated License Plate Recognition Systems (ALPRs)

There is a good article in Time Magazine about automatic license plate scanners, and the questions it raises about privacy, a topic that we’ve been writing about here.

These systems don’t just scan vehicles looking for wanted criminals and other scofflaws, which is their primary purpose. But in doing so, countless innocent citizens are scanned, tagged, and tracked by location and time. This article continues to raise questions about who has access to the data stored, and for what purpose.

Police in Palm Beach County Florida are already using these scanners to track the movements of suspected gang members.

Civil libertarians and others concerned about privacy fear this data will be targeted and mined for other purposes. The ACLU’s Jay Stanley worries that the police can easily use this to track and monitor those who might attend political protests, or other lawful events.

Other cities like Tiburon, CA are considering mounting scanners at the city border to track everyone coming and going, in an effort to be prepared to trace burglary suspects. And New York City has proposed Operation Sentinel to do the same to track all vehicles entering lower Manhattan.

People used to take for granted that they could lawfully move about without being tracked or scanned by the government, but that is simply no longer true.

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