License plate scanners are the latest puzzle piece when it comes to a massive dragnet of surveillance upon law-abiding American citizens protected by the Fourth Amendment as the role of Big Brother in our day to day lives becomes ever more apparent.
The American Civil Liberties Union addressed license plate scanners this week, calling them the most “widespread location tracking technology you’ve probably never heard of,” snapping “photos of every passing car, recording their plate numbers, times, and locations.”
The license plate scanner program scope is terrifying and became apparent to the ACLU through Freedom Of Information Act requests about the initiative’s reach.
In a blog post, the ACLU warns:
At first the captured plate data was used just to check against lists of cars law enforcement hoped to locate for various reasons (to act on arrest warrants, find stolen cars, etc.). But increasingly, all of this data is being fed into massive databases that contain the location information of many millions of innocent Americans stretching back for months or even years.
Many will say that as they are not breaking any laws, the license plate scanners pose no threat. But the ACLU believes that it affects all Americans, as the government is “increasingly using new technology to collect information about all of us, all the time, and to store it forever – providing a complete record of our lives for it to access at will.”
As technology improves, so too does the ease of spying and, more worryingly, storing data such as that collected by license plate scanners — creating an inadvertent detailed profile of where and how often you eat, where you pray (if you worship), whether or not you travel to gun shops or ranges, and who you’re visiting at certain hours of the evening. More worryingly, this information can be used against you in 20 or 30 years or more, the ACLU asserts.
An attorney for the group says license plate scanners can be used to compile a detailed dossier “of all Americans simply because they chose to drive a car.” Do you find the ACLU’s new discovery to be worrisome?