On second thought: Homeland Security drops plan to track Americans’ license plates

posted at 8:01 pm on February 19, 2014 by Allahpundit

Fine, but it’s a perverse reality that the Snowden leaks have made me more of a fatalist about these things. If they’re dropping the license plate database, I suspect it’s not because they think they’ve crossed some line of propriety. It’s because there are more efficient ways, either already extant or under development, to track people’s locations. The progress of surveillance technology is remorseless.

Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson on Wednesday ordered the cancellation of a plan by the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency to seek a national license plate tracking system…

The idea behind the national license-plate recognition database, which would have drawn data from readers that scan the tags of every vehicle crossing their paths, was to help catch fugitive illegal immigrants, according to a DHS solicitation. But the plan raised concerns that the movements of ordinary citizens who are under no criminal suspicion could be scrutinized.

“The solicitation, which was posted without the awareness of ICE leadership, has been cancelled,” ICE spokeswoman Gillian Christensen said in a statement. “While we continue to support a range of technologies to help meet our law enforcement mission, this solicitation will be reviewed to ensure the path forward appropriately meets our operational needs.”

Here’s Ed’s post on the license plate plan from this morning. What’s a more efficient way than scanning plates to track someone’s whereabouts? By their cell phone, of course, a program the NSA spent two years quietly testing in 2010 and 2011. That’s not a perfect solution, needless to say; sometimes you won’t know a target’s phone number, just their plate. But as the feds’ ability to process information grows, there may be workarounds for cars. E.g., if you had comprehensive DMV records and auto manufacturer records, you might be able to match a particular plate to a particular VIN and then that VIN to a serial number for some electronic component of the car that could be tracked remotely. It’s the same point I made earlier in the “smart gun” post about the “Internet of things.” In the near term, even basic appliances will be able to communicate with each other. Cars already do, in fact. If the feds can, with a little effort, read your e-mails, presumably they’ll figure out a way to “listen” to your car too and zero in on its location without needing to read the plate. And in the slightly longer term, as wearable tech like Google Glass and smartwatches catch on, it’ll be easier to track you personally. All of this seems to me unavoidable. Even if public pressure convinces Congress to close off some channels of surveillance, capacity through other channels will grow and make up the difference.

The one novelty of the license plate program, I think, is that it was under DHS’s umbrella, not the NSA’s. Not only that, but they were seeking to justify it as a weapon in the fight against — ahem — illegal immigration. That’s an unusually draconian step for a government controlled by a party that’s already under fire from immigration advocates for being too aggressive in deporting illegals, and which stands to benefit politically from higher rates of illegal border-crossing. Maybe this was a halting first attempt at bringing massive surveillance dragnets out of the realm of counterterrorism and into the area of more mundane law enforcement and DHS simply miscalculated how the public would receive it after nine months of Snowden-driven upset. Too soon. For now.


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It’s all so depressing. Do you believe they stopped the program? Would they tell us the truth either way?

I used to have at least a modicum of trust in the government. None left at all now. none.

WitchDoctor on February 19, 2014 at 8:07 PM

Yeah, that’s what they WANT you to think. ;)

The Rogue Tomato on February 19, 2014 at 8:07 PM

Governing by Twitter

workingclass artist on February 19, 2014 at 8:08 PM

Bummer…I was planning on getting a Personalized one
that simply said F U

ToddPA on February 19, 2014 at 8:08 PM

The idea behind the national license-plate recognition database, which would have drawn data from readers that scan the tags of every vehicle crossing their paths, was to help catch fugitive illegal immigrants, according to a DHS solicitation.

.
There’s your FAIL, right there.

PolAgnostic on February 19, 2014 at 8:08 PM

Homeland Security = Gestapo.

VorDaj on February 19, 2014 at 8:09 PM

Snowden = Paul Revere, but mainly playing to a deaf, dumb and blind audience of mice and sheep.

VorDaj on February 19, 2014 at 8:10 PM

Not buying it.

rbj on February 19, 2014 at 8:12 PM

On second thought: Homeland Security drops plan to track Americans’ license plates

Riiiiiiiiiight.

If you like your freedom, you can keep your freedom …

ShainS on February 19, 2014 at 8:14 PM

Back in the hayday we were pushing for Gasden flag plates here.

Glad we failed.

wolly4321 on February 19, 2014 at 8:14 PM

It’s all so depressing. Do you believe they stopped the program? Would they tell us the truth either way?

I used to have at least a modicum of trust in the government. None left at all now. none.

WitchDoctor on February 19, 2014 at 8:07 PM

Well of course they stopped it. For the moment.

Better to tighten the grip when no one’s looking for it….

There Goes the Neighborhood on February 19, 2014 at 8:14 PM

All your data and all your movements belong to us.

DasObamaReich on February 19, 2014 at 8:18 PM

What most people don’t know is that this data is also collected by plate-reading police cars and those mobile speed limit warning signs that are set out. All with GPS location attached.

When they have an interest in a particular plate they go back and search for where that vehicle has been “seen” before.

FadeToBolivia on February 19, 2014 at 8:18 PM

A program to track illegals through their license plates?

Since when do illegals with no licenses or ID’s register their vehicles? And how?

HotAirian on February 19, 2014 at 8:19 PM

It’s all so depressing. Do you believe they stopped the program? Would they tell us the truth either way?

I used to have at least a modicum of trust in the government. None left at all now. none.

WitchDoctor on February 19, 2014 at 8:07 PM

Of course the did, why would they LIE about a thing like that?

If you like your Privacy, you can keep your Privacy.

If you like your Liberty, you can keep your Liberty.

DinaRehn on February 19, 2014 at 8:19 PM

Yeah, right.

Earth to Obama Regime: Conservatives aren’t the DOLTS you are taught we are in the Ivy League faculty lounge.

ConstantineXI on February 19, 2014 at 8:20 PM

Now, how does this fit into the War on Women?

Or is it racist to ask that?

DinaRehn on February 19, 2014 at 8:21 PM

…so I can cancel my new Michigan plate?
…………………………………..JUGEARS……

KOOLAID2 on February 19, 2014 at 8:22 PM

Now, how does this fit into the War on Women?

Or is it racist to ask that?

DinaRehn on February 19, 2014 at 8:21 PM

My question: Is not cleaning the license plate on my car (ie: never washing it again)RAAAACIST?

ConstantineXI on February 19, 2014 at 8:22 PM

A program to track illegals through their license plates?

Since when do illegals with no licenses or ID’s register their vehicles? And how?

HotAirian on February 19, 2014 at 8:19 PM
—————-

In CA, you don’t need a license to buy/sell/register a vehicle. You just need an ID. The state is more than happy to collect registration fees from illegals.

FadeToBolivia on February 19, 2014 at 8:22 PM

We’re still doomed. I’m glad I’m on my way out. Track my ashes, a–holes…

vnvet on February 19, 2014 at 8:26 PM

ToddPA on February 19, 2014 at 8:08 PM

Howdy, Todd! In case I don’t make it to the QoTD…I have a morning appointment for a new crown tomorrow…may just cower myself under the covers…

ladyingray on February 19, 2014 at 8:26 PM

Did anyone hear about this in the regime’s War on Liberty:

Why is the Obama Administration Putting Government Monitors in Newsrooms?
The Obama Administration’s Federal Communication Commission (FCC) is poised to place government monitors in newsrooms across the country in an absurdly draconian attempt to intimidate and control the media.

Before you dismiss this assertion as utterly preposterous (we all know how that turned out when the Tea Party complained that it was being targeted by the IRS), this bombshell of an accusation comes from an actual FCC Commissioner.

FCC Commissioner Ajit Pai reveals a brand new Obama Administration program that he fears could be used in “pressuring media organizations into covering certain stories.”
As Commissioner Pai explains in the Wall Street Journal:
Last May the FCC proposed an initiative to thrust the federal government into newsrooms across the country. With its “Multi-Market Study of Critical Information Needs,” or CIN, the agency plans to send researchers to grill reporters, editors and station owners about how they decide which stories to run. A field test in Columbia, S.C., is scheduled to begin this spring.

The purpose of the CIN, according to the FCC, is to ferret out information from television and radio broadcasters about “the process by which stories are selected” and how often stations cover “critical information needs,” along with “perceived station bias” and “perceived responsiveness to underserved populations.”
http://www.redstate.com/diary/matthewclark/2014/02/18/obama-administration-putting-government-monitors-newsrooms/

DinaRehn on February 19, 2014 at 8:27 PM

DinaRehn on February 19, 2014 at 8:27 PM

The Regime supposedly pulled the plug on THAT ONE too, but I don’t believe that any more than the license plate database being pulled.

ConstantineXI on February 19, 2014 at 8:28 PM

Bull****.

jawkneemusic on February 19, 2014 at 8:29 PM

“The solicitation, which was posted without the awareness of ICE leadership, has been cancelled,” ICE spokeswoman Gillian Christensen said in a statement.

Blame shifting to rogue agents in Duluth in……….5………4…..3……2…….1

Happy Nomad on February 19, 2014 at 8:31 PM

And now the FCC is going to impinge on First Amendment rights?
http://news.investors.com/ibd-editorials/021314-690050-fcc-newsroom-plan-all-about-controlling-the-free-press.htm

These agencies are out of control.

onlineanalyst on February 19, 2014 at 8:33 PM

“The solicitation, which was posted without the awareness of ICE leadership, has been cancelled,” ICE spokeswoman Gillian Christensen said in a statement.

in other WH news..
“you can keep your Doctor if you want to…” BHO…

“evil never seen video causes small Benghazi protest”…

“we did not give guns to Mexican Drug cartels”….

“Bo was not the menu at the last WH Dinner”…

with lies flying daily…and whoppers twice weekly..
only a dolt could believe this WH on anything at all….

going2mars on February 19, 2014 at 8:34 PM

Xtop the current form at the federal level, let the technology and database information be collected at the state/local level, then compile it at the federal level again later. Oldest trick in the book–maximum deniability until they’re ready to use it.

Doc Holliday on February 19, 2014 at 8:35 PM

Stop,not Xtop

Doc Holliday on February 19, 2014 at 8:35 PM

You guys are so unreasonable. How do you expect DHS to get the Domestic Drone Program up and running if they can’t track the King’s political enemies if they can’t aim those Hellfire missiles at targeted vehicles?

Happy Nomad on February 19, 2014 at 8:37 PM

Probably not invasive enough to suit the Kenyan Stalin.

GPS tracking for all peons!!

Eric Holder: “Jawohl Herr Kommandant… especially to whitey.”

viking01 on February 19, 2014 at 8:38 PM

We are living in a “new world order.” I’m convinced that many in our government do not care about the Bill of Rights. They(globalists in both parties) have made a joke out of the tenth amendment. They want to destroy the second. They are now violating the fourth(NSA,DHS). They will get to the First Amendment soon enough. It will probably be done through “hate speech laws” enforced by district and federal court judges.

shubalstearns on February 19, 2014 at 8:41 PM

The communists and nazis would have loved this amount of surveillance over the plebeians.

lorien1973 on February 19, 2014 at 8:42 PM

DinaRehn on February 19, 2014 at 8:27 PM

The Regime supposedly pulled the plug on THAT ONE too, but I don’t believe that any more than the license plate database being pulled.

ConstantineXI on February 19, 2014 at 8:28 PM

That one is more out in the open, but You have to wonder why they would bother with the wonderfully fawning coverage from most of the Media?

Are they expecting them to turn on the regime and actually do their Constitutionally mandated job?

DinaRehn on February 19, 2014 at 8:43 PM

The idea behind the national license-plate recognition database, which would have drawn data from readers that scan the tags of every vehicle crossing their paths, was to help catch fugitive illegal immigrants,…

What a joke!

The only fugitive illegal immigrants are the idiots who are still in Mexico and haven’t made it over the border yet.

Stepan on February 19, 2014 at 8:44 PM

viking01 on February 19, 2014 at 8:38 PM

NSA implants…. covered by the ACA,,, for the ‘good of the children’ im sure..

1984 didn’t go far enough for this lot..

going2mars on February 19, 2014 at 8:44 PM

shrugs… guess if they go with the implants..
(willing or not)
they wont have to tattoo us also…so there’s that..

going2mars on February 19, 2014 at 8:48 PM

Howdy, Todd! In case I don’t make it to the QoTD…I have a morning appointment for a new crown tomorrow…may just cower myself under the covers…

ladyingray on February 19, 2014 at 8:26 PM

Howdy lady. No problem, we’ll tuck the Nutballs in for
the night.

ToddPA on February 19, 2014 at 8:51 PM

NSA implants…. covered by the ACA,,, for the ‘good of the children’ im sure..

1984 didn’t go far enough for this lot..

going2mars on February 19, 2014 at 8:44 PM

And they’re doing it in the name of security/terrorism. They have had their way long enough. Its time for people to speak out against this illegal crud– patriot act, NDAA, drones, nsa domestic spying– all of it.

shubalstearns on February 19, 2014 at 8:51 PM

1984 didn’t go far enough for this lot..

going2mars on February 19, 2014 at 8:44 PM

And DeathCare lobotomies for all those “insane” daring to question the Politburo.

viking01 on February 19, 2014 at 8:53 PM

Doobie Brothers – What a Fool Believes

Newtie and the Beauty on February 19, 2014 at 8:55 PM

Bummer…I was planning on getting a Personalized one
that simply said F U

ToddPA on February 19, 2014 at 8:08 PM

I tried ‘FA Q’ but they were a little sharper than I gave them credit for…

affenhauer on February 19, 2014 at 8:56 PM

That one is more out in the open, but You have to wonder why they would bother with the wonderfully fawning coverage from most of the Media?

Are they expecting them to turn on the regime and actually do their Constitutionally mandated job?

DinaRehn on February 19, 2014 at 8:43 PM

Obama doesn’t consider the media to be FAWNING ENOUGH.

He won’t be happy until his STAFF is writing ALL stories about him and the media is simply lip-synching Jay Carney.

ConstantineXI on February 19, 2014 at 8:57 PM

shubalstearns on February 19, 2014 at 8:51 PM

with Nixon it started in the Press…
this time the Press is a willing accomplice..

criminally liable the MSM is..
they KNOW BHO breaks the laws..
and they are with him….
Greta had a bit on where BHO is now turning
on his compliant Press….”you all don’t love me enough”
were so doomed…

going2mars on February 19, 2014 at 9:00 PM

Here in the Nations they call us the civilized tribe. They call us civilized because we are easy to sneak up on. – Chief Dan George
(The Outlaw Josey Wales – 1976)

VorDaj on February 19, 2014 at 9:21 PM

I still say Snowden is no hero, and much like Bradley Manning’s case, they both should have gone a different route if their conscience was truly the motivation to do something. But without him, we probably wouldn’t have know about any of the NSA surveillance methods. A fine example of the silver lining behind the rain cloud.

And how we know that DHS is really shelving the license plate database? We wouldn’t know about that either if not for Snowden…if they hid this once, what’s to say they aren’t doing it again? What could happen…is that all license plates from all 50 states would have some chip embedded in it, which would be tracked through GPS and make available your name, address, locations you drive to, etc.

JetBoy on February 19, 2014 at 9:24 PM

Speaking of DHS, they also want to equate state’s rights on immigration policy to slavery

Redblack on February 20, 2014 at 12:17 AM

Well, now you see me now you don’t.

platypus on February 20, 2014 at 1:48 AM

Snowden = Paul Revere

VorDaj on February 19, 2014 at 8:10 PM

Sorry, no.

GWB on February 20, 2014 at 9:48 AM

We cannot believe a word coming from this lawless administration.
Doubtful even the gullible idiots who voted for Obama are on board with their endless lies.

Lee Jan on February 20, 2014 at 12:01 PM