Reprinted from www.corpwatch.org
Local government officials have the ability to track individual drivers
in the U.S. in real time and take pictures of the occupants of their
vehicles, with new "truly Orwellian" technology purchased from companies
like Vigilant Solutions, according to new documents uncovered by the
American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU).
One of the documents is a
ten page U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) memo stating that
the technology behind the National License Plate Reading Initiative that
was launched in December 2008 allows it to capture "vehicle license
plate numbers (front and/or rear), photos of visible vehicle occupants [redacted]
and a front and rear overall view of the vehicle." Another May 2011 memo notes that this system has the ability to store "up to 10 photos per vehicle transaction including 4 occupant photos
details complement findings by the Wall Street Journal that the U.S.
Department of Justice has built a secret national database to track
vehicle license plates around the country that now holds "hundreds of millions of records about motorists
the program was originally designed to catch drug traffickers, it has
now become a routine way for government agencies to find anyone that
they suspect is associated with a crime. "Many state and local
law-enforcement agencies are accessing the database for a variety of
investigations, putting a wealth of information in the hands of local
officials who can track vehicles in real time on major roadways," writes
Devlin Barrett in the Journal.
A December 2013 memo from the Milwaukee police explains how such technology works and the "standard operating procedures" for the use of the data gathered.
and law enforcement agencies have argued that images of license plates
cannot be used to identify individuals, and thus do not infringe on our
individual privacy," writes Sonia Roubini of the ACLU in an article that
explain the significance of the newly released memos. "This
argument is thin already, but it certainly doesn't fly with regards to
photographs of the driver or passengers inside of a vehicle
-- especially in the era of face recognition analytics."
ACLU says that the biggest vendor of automatic license plate
recognition technology is Vigilant Solutions, based in Livermore,
California. The company has been quite open about the fact that it
operates the Law Enforcement Archival and Reporting Network-National
Vehicle Location Service that now holds some two billion records, and
adds some 100 million records every month.
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