More on those Ominous Black Boxes


Reader Trafficnerd gave us a few links to pages about the HPD’s DEA-funded PlateScan Automatic License Plate Recognition (ALPR) systems.

None of them, oddly enough, mention the DEA funding that Officer Friendly told me about.

Here, though, is Houston HIDTA (High-Intensity Drug Trafficking Area task force) director Stan Furce’s “So, you want an LPR” article from the August issue of Law Officer Magazine.

A highlight:

The license data LPRs collect can be stored for an indeterminable
length of time, limited only by the server containing the information.
Some LPRs temporarily store information in the camera housing or
in a nearby server, but all will eventually download it into a larger
server, either automatically or manually. Investigators from all
disciplines can then query that server to learn if a certain VOI was in
a particular area at a specified time and, perhaps, who was driving
it. 

There goes any remaining illusion I might have had that when I’m driving along minding my own business nobody else is minding my business. The government is able to record where and when my license plate was spotted, and keep it in a database. For an indeterminable length of time.

I probably don’t have to point out to my prosecutorial readers this development’s utility to their mission to help the government exercise more power over the people. I’ll bet that HPD Homicide’s tech geek, B.C. McDaniel, is already all over it. For the defense, a subpoena for ALPR data might, if the defense is lucky, turn up a sighting that supports an alibi.

Coming soon to street corners near you: cameras that can do the same thing with your face that HPD’s ALPR can do with your license plate.

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0 responses to “More on those Ominous Black Boxes”

  1. While it may seem like a great step towards a safer society, giving the governmetn powers to collect massive amounts of data on the citizenry which is then kept from the public is dangerous. The reality that governmetns can easily abuse the very citizens who elect them must begin to wake people up.

  2. Slowly, but surely, the last vestiges of our personal liberties are being ceded to the state in the name of “security.”

    No one raises a stink as long as it’s “them” whose liberties are being restricted.

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