It seems that our rapidly diminishing right to privacy has been a somewhat regular topic here, but once again I came across further proof in todays newspaper. A continually growing network of police cameras are capturing, storing and sharing data on our license plates so that they can track our movements, whether we are stuck in a traffic jam, going to the store or visiting aunt Annie from an hour away!
Attached to police cars, bridges, buildings, and sometimes simply an app on a police officer’s smart phone, scanners capture images of passing or parked vehicles, pinpointing their locations and uploading that information to police databases. Networks of plate scanners allow police to track a driver’s location, at times several times a day, with very few legal restrictions! The ACLU states that scanners are assembling a “single, high-resolution image of our lives”. According to The Times-Tribune, Catherine Crump, a staff attorney with ACLU said, “There’s just a fundamental question of whether we’re going to live in a society where these dragnet surveillance systems become routine”. The group is proposing that police departments immediately delete any records of cars not linked to any crime.
The group says that although less thorough than GPS tracking, plate readers can produce some of the same information, revealing if someone is frequenting a bar, joining a protest, getting medical or mental help, being unfaithful to a spouse, and much more.
Law enforcement officials say that these scanners are strikingly efficient . Maryland told the ACLU that troopers could “maintain a normal patrol stance” while capturing up to 7,000 license plate images in a single eight hour shift.
It would seem that the old phrase that Big Brother is always watching, is more accurate then it’s ever before been. It isn’t bad enough that the government is listening to our every word of every telephone conversation we have, tracking each of our clicks from page to page on the Internet, but now we can’t jump in the car and disappear for a few days without being spied on, tracked like a dog or a common criminal! Therein lies the problem, every last one of us, every citizen of this country is being treated like a crook, like we’re all up to no good, like we all have something to hide. It’s the principal of it! No we have nothing to hide, but it’s the fact that what scrap of privacy might be left for us is held very near and dear, and now, once again, we’re being spied on!
Why do people have to go into the witness protection program? Why do battered wives who have husbands trying to kill them, go on the run trying with all of their might to find a place to hide? What of those people who want to leave a miserable situation behind them and make a completely fresh start for themselves? And this is a supposed free country? I think that, just like the government’s latest spying game, it should be known criminals / terrorists that are tracked like animals, and only the same spied upon every damned day of their lives!