There’s no need to freak out over a “national car-tracking database”

posted at 8:01 am on January 27, 2015 by Jazz Shaw

Privacy advocates are in an uproar over the disclosure of the existence of a Justice Department database which uses cameras to capture in real time and temporarily store the license plate numbers of vehicles on the nation’s roads.

The program, whose existence was first reported by The Wall Street Journal, is primarily overseen by the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) to combat drug trafficking near the U.S.-Mexico border. However, government emails indicate that the agency has been working to expand the database throughout the United States over the past several years.

A Justice Department spokesman told Fox News that the tracking program is compliant with federal, claiming it “includes protocols that limit who can access the database and all of the license plate information is deleted after 90 days.” In 2012, a DEA agent testified before a House subcommittee that the program was inaugurated in December 2008 and information gathered by it was available to federal, state, and local law enforcement organizations.

It is not clear whether the tracking is overseen or approved by any court.

The Wall Street Journal describes it as “U.S. Spies on Millions of Cars.” The Hill chose to go with essentially the same headline. Mediaite breathlessly asks whether they infringe on privacy and civil liberties.

Honestly, rather than immediately going into a defensive crouch, we might ask if this isn’t precisely what we need given the current climate in the nation.

There are clearly limits as to what sorts of information about us the government (at any level) should be collecting and keeping. We don’t want a national registry of gun owners and we don’t want every phone call and email collected and scrutinized. But those areas involve matters of private ownership, the things we do in the privacy of our homes and citizens having the knowledge that they are “secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects,” as some wise person once wrote.

But we should also remember that privacy has limits. One of the most common is the fact that your right to privacy essentially drops to zero once you leave your home and go out in the public square. Surely our roads are about as public a space as one could imagine. And the government already keeps a database of who owns which vehicle, which is why there are license plates in the first place. What is it that is so private about driving your vehicle on the taxpayer funded roadways that we don’t want that information recorded? (At least assuming you aren’t doing something illegal.) Your movements out of doors are already tracked by numerous security cameras, ATMs and stop light monitors. That information is useful in numerous situations where police are trying to apprehend criminals, though it is somewhat different when the cameras belong to private businesses and citizens. In those cases the government must (and should) obtain a warrant to get hold of the footage. But if the government owns the cameras, that barrier would seem to evaporate. Is this a bad thing?

In terms of managing crime across the nation, the benefits of such a system seem to outweigh any of the privacy concerns I’m seeing. When a little girl is snatched up by a stranger and dumped into a van, you can bet I want the police to be able to access a description and license number for that vehicle as rapidly as possible and put some officers out there looking for it. When a criminal is in flight and crossing state lines, the police may have no clue what direction they are heading if they escape the immediate scene of the crime. This is an excellent tool to quickly identify where they are going.

Honestly, I just can’t get upset over a database which tracks license plates for ninety days. And frankly I’m not sure I really want a court standing in the way of the cops accessing that information while they wait for a warrant. Opponents will raise the cry regarding those willing to sacrifice liberty for security, but what liberty are you really giving up by allowing the authorities to know where your car is? And the security you obtain in trade for that looks pretty valuable to me.


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Comments

Not everything that the gov’t does that we don’t like is a constitutional violation. If the gov’t had the funds, it could station an officer at various locations to do nothing but take down license plate numbers all day and record the time they saw them. I don’t think anyone could claim that would be an unconstitutional search and seizure. Simply doing the same thing with technology is also not an unreasonable search and seizure that violates the 4th amendment.


Ahhhh
, so your opinion is paramount to any individual’s or collection of individuals?

Or is your plan to defend excesses based primarily on SCOTUS regardless of things like “Dredd Scott”, etc?

I’m going to leave some of these here just so folks can refresh themselves on what you are arguing AGAINST.

Amendment IV

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

Amendment V
No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or otherwise infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a Grand Jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the Militia, when in actual service in time of War or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offence to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use, without just compensation.

Amendment VI
In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the Assistance of Counsel for his defence.

Amendment IX
The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.

Amendment X
The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.

PolAgnostic on January 27, 2015 at 10:37 AM

If it was just one picture, it most likely wouldn’t be that bad. But if multiple police cars and cameras are taking pictures, then it adds up to much more.

[Patriot Vet on January 27, 2015 at 9:47 AM]

Interesting. Thanks for that.

Dusty on January 27, 2015 at 10:40 AM

Wear a hoodie, maybe?

Or a Star of David?

Like I said in my previous post, driving is a privilege, not a right. If you’re driving for nefarious purposes, state actors have an absolute mandate to identify, apprehend and question you.

Indeed, if they know that I have a nefarious purpose, or my actions betray one. Tracking me and storing data for living my life is itself a nefarious act.

“If you aren’t doing anything wrong you have nothing to worry about” is a despot’s lie.

If immortal holy angels ran the govt I wouldn’t worry.

One thing that Jazz is consistent about is his support for proper law enforcement within the constructs of the US Constitution. There is nothing in his post that deviates from that philosophy. Driving is a privilege, not a right.

Where I go, when I go, how long I stay there, etc, is no one’s business but mine. This is nothing but stalking. It easily lends itself to misfeasance of law enforcement.

Why put an open container of arsenic on the kitchen table? Isn’t it wise to keep it away from food, to store it nowhere around food or where kids can get into it? IOW, we take safeguards every day to prevent bad things from happening. There are few things more precious than liberty, so I’d rather err on the side of caution than assume that the arsenic could never possibly end up in the cereal.

Flying is a privilege, not a right. Don’t you want somebody somewhere keeping up with who might be up so something evil when they’re boarding? GulfCoastBamaFan on January 27, 2015 at 10:04 AM

To a certain degree, but if you fly regularly you might agree that it is now out of hand. I’m not aware of one instance where a “terrorist” was apprehended trying to get on a plane with a weapon, but I have flown to Chicago with a three inch knife in my jacket pocket that I forgot about. A friend went to Costa Rica through Puerto Rico with a six inch knife in his backpack he’d forgotten about.

Now, what if there were a means to gather that information through advances in technology, and retroactively try and punish us for those “crimes”? Do you wish to live in that world?

Akzed on January 27, 2015 at 10:46 AM

But we should also remember that privacy has limits.

No, that’s not the issue. The issue is the ability of the government to watch you. That should NOT be their job. They are treating us as if we were already criminals. That violates one of the basic fundamentals of a free society: innocent until proven guilty.

This isn’t strictly about the 4th Amendment. This is about the fundamental principles of freedom.

GWB on January 27, 2015 at 10:46 AM

Nah, we don’t need to know about these people. They’re just exercising their right to be out and about. GulfCoastBamaFan on January 27, 2015 at 10:31 AM

If you aren’t doing anything wrong you have nothing to worry about.

It’s for the children.

We know.

Akzed on January 27, 2015 at 10:50 AM

[GulfCoastBamaFan on January 27, 2015 at 10:31 AM]

There are already methods for surveilling them, if it is deemed necessary, without recording everyone else. Do I need to spell out those existing methods for you?

Dusty on January 27, 2015 at 10:53 AM

Yes, this issue is about driving. Hey, how about a known alcoholic being tracked and stopped before he kills somebody in an accident? How about a twice-convicted drug trafficker making the same old runs every other day?

Nah, we don’t need to know about these people. They’re just exercising their right to be out and about.

GulfCoastBamaFan on January 27, 2015 at 10:31 AM

Well, it really is not about driving. It’s about tracking the movements of citizens.

If the legislature wishes to introduce a bill to track the movements of convicted drunk drivers or released drug traffickers as a condition of their having the privilege to drive let them do so.

So why track me then?

What you are saying is that you’re okay with the government tracking the movements of all of it’s citizens because some small percentage of those citizens might break the law.

To that sentiment, I wholeheartedly disagree.

B4B on January 27, 2015 at 10:55 AM

PolAgnostic on January 27, 2015 at 10:37 AM

Stop that! People will see that stuff and start acting crazy!

Akzed on January 27, 2015 at 10:57 AM

You really are deranged aren’t you? Telling me to leave America because I don’t believe that taking pictures of license plates violates the 4th amendment (and realize again that I said I don’t necessarily agree with the practice, just that it probably is not unconstitutional). You need to take your meds.

As to the idiotic (yes idiotic) other situations you outline – each would have to be looked at to see whether it violated the 4th amendment – which surveillance practices? What reason was the surveillance done? Not all surveillance is unconstitutional.

I also never said all activities by law enforcement are constitutional (which appears to be your incredibly idiotic and delusional straw-man argument in response to me) – that only happened in your deranged mind. I said taking a picture of a license plate on a public highway is likely not unconstitutional. You really, really need to calm down, get a grip and confront reality.

I’m tired of commenters here who cannot think rationally, or read what another commenter wrote. You don’t add to this site. Nor do you further conservatism with your crazy rants.

Monkeytoe on January 27, 2015 at 10:02 AM


Wow!
You post a screed full of ad hominem attacks

… and yet you claimed to be a lawyer?

Interestingly, I just argued a case regarding these license plate reader cameras.

Monkeytoe on January 27, 2015 at 8:21 AM

As to the idiotic (yes idiotic) other situations you outline – each would have to be looked at to see whether it violated the 4th amendment – which surveillance practices? What reason was the surveillance done?


So, counselor
… you don’t even have a general frame of reference to the “idiotic” instances I cited?

Really?

Telling me to leave America because I don’t believe that taking pictures of license plates violates the 4th amendment.


Don’t take it personal, cupcake.

My view is that for all of these “surrender liberty for security” folks (like you, Jazz & GulfCoastBamaFan as examples) who are content to see the Constitutional rights of the citizens SEIZED by the state and then doled back out as the State sees fit … it would be better for all concerned if you emigrated out of America and TO someplace that already operates under conditions you want to see imposed HERE.

I’ve been blessed by having the opportunity to see the world and spend time in lots of different countries.

There are lots of places for progressives, liberals, and other people who don’t view the Constitution as a sacred social contract to go and live under EXACTLY the conditions they espouse.

Strangely enough, none of them take advantage of that liberty.

I’d be surprised if I didn’t already know what hypocrites they are.

PolAgnostic on January 27, 2015 at 10:59 AM

Stop that! People will see that stuff and start acting crazy!

Akzed on January 27, 2015 at 10:57 AM

.
I’m just glad when the SCOAMF nationalized GM they didn’t force us to buy GM cars …

… picking cars up and throwing them in the Boston Harbor would have been a MAJOR PITA.

;->

PolAgnostic on January 27, 2015 at 11:02 AM

if you fly regularly you might agree that it is now out of hand.

Akzed on January 27, 2015 at 10:46 AM

The problem really is they aren’t “keeping up with who might be up to something evil” – they are assuming everyone is a terrorist and treating them accordingly. This is a violation of our fundamental rights as a free person. And so it is with this license plate database.

GWB on January 27, 2015 at 11:07 AM

GulfCoastBamaFan,

What about child or spousal abusers? Should we not know about what goes on in their home, or when they visit another?
What about IV drug users? Should we not be able to verify that they are not sharing needles and putting others at risk?
What about those that owe back taxes? Should the government not be privy to the fact that they spent money on a designer hand bag when that money could have gone to pay their “debt to society”?
How about those that enjoy fast food? Shouldn’t the government be able to monitor what people eat so we can stop them form living an unhealthy lifestyle and placing an undue burden on the national healthcare system?

Your logic of capitulation to expanding government and shrinking personal liberties “for the public good” literally has no end.

B4B on January 27, 2015 at 11:09 AM

[Patriot Vet on January 27, 2015 at 10:16 AM]

Then there is the problem of the individual states trying to sell what they can to raise revenue. Remember, this system is one of states individually collecting this information, so they hve access to it all by themselves and, thus, probably not regulated by any Federal prohibitions/limitations on their use of it. As such, it is noteworthy that we’ve gone through the issue of abuse of the system before, which culminated in the Driver’s Privacy Protection Act of 1994, and that the States fought that law all the way to the Supreme Court, though they lost that suit. Unfortunately, it was lost because the Supreme Court threw the Commerce Clause Card.

In any event, I don’t see that there is anything now preventing states from selling this information to private business and you know that is there is money in selling it, most states will jump at the chance to do so. Not that that is such a big deal considering we are moving towards a point where auto manufacturers will have real time info on all our driving habits and if they have it, everyone with sufficient money to pay for it will have it, too.

Dusty on January 27, 2015 at 11:13 AM

The problem really is they aren’t “keeping up with who might be up to something evil” – they are assuming everyone is a terrorist and treating them accordingly. This is a violation of our fundamental rights as a free person. And so it is with this license plate database. GWB on January 27, 2015 at 11:07 AM

And remember, the TSA was the result of the nationalization of disparate airport security outfits.

Who’s to say that for The Next Big Thing®, real or contrived, local police won’t be nationalized, you know, for the children and all.

Then the feds will own all the data the locals have been collecting on Monkeytoe while he wasn’t doing anything wrong and therefore had nothing to worry about, and use it however they see fit because, you know, national emergency.

Snowden is a traitor!!!

Akzed on January 27, 2015 at 11:14 AM

I am a data expert. I live on statistics, numbers, data. I have somewhere a paper I wrote using big data.

Any of this has extreme value. I can use this data to identify circles of friends, co-workers, other data for family connections, rate of interaction, yet more data to identify political affiliation, social media and blogs for political subset, yet more data to determine if you have a gun(s). Tracking data of this sort makes it easy when their time comes to take over.

They start with the isolated ones, thus being off grid is a bad thing. They move to smaller groups easily isolated in remote regions. They then target the organizers, the financiers, the smart ones. Since they know our locations down to a 10 minute window at worst (when we leave our cell phones behind) they still have us.

You have no clue how these “security for a little liberty” type papercuts really are foing to make tyranny easy.

Btw for the record Google is filled with idiots compared to me. Give me access to their data stores, and servers, and I could rule the world in less than 5 years. All Hail Harrington!

OregonPolitician on January 27, 2015 at 11:22 AM

Somewhat relatedly, from the standpoint of what the government naturally tends to do when given control over data and permits is this old (looks like 2003-2004 vintage) Wired article titled “Nobody F@#ks with the DMV“. It’s a little misleading because it’s not actually the DMV which is doing it but state legislatures using the DMV to control citizens. Here’s a tidbit:

“It’s the most effective thing that you can do without throwing them in jail,” says Peter Nunnenkamp, manager of driver programs at Oregon’s Driver and Motor Vehicle Services. “And it’s fairly cost effective.” In fact, it’s so effective that Oregon has 109 different offenses that can result in the temporary suspension of a driver’s license; 50 of them have nothing at all to do with driving.

Dusty on January 27, 2015 at 11:28 AM

But we should also remember that privacy GOVERNMENT has limits.

(Corrected serious error in article)

landlines on January 27, 2015 at 11:33 AM

OregonPolitician on January 27, 2015 at 11:22 AM

For the record, in case you didn’t know but I suspect you did, so this is just for Monkeytoe really, Google and FB were started with money from In-Q-Tel, which is owned by the CIA. You can look it up.

But again, if one is not doing anything wrong he has nothing to worry about.

Akzed on January 27, 2015 at 11:34 AM

landlines on January 27, 2015 at 11:33 AM

Akzed on January 27, 2015 at 11:35 AM

You are assumed innocent until proven guilty.

You do NOT pre-collect data on the assumed innocent.

ajacksonian on January 27, 2015 at 11:45 AM

It’s worse than that. Some time ago I was talking to an acquaintance involved with traffic control locally about equipment I thought had been installed for control of the lights. He told me they are cameras for facial recognition. Run by of all things the U.S. Diplomatic core. He had helped install the software to route the information at the County offices.

CW20 on January 27, 2015 at 11:54 AM

So…they say it is only temporary. They say “trust us”.

But you don’t know if it is temporary, Jazz. And what do they mean by temporary? 6 weeks? 6 months? or 6 years? you know, like our cell phone records.

You know who else says “trust us”?

NSA
FBI
TSA
DHS

and on and on and on. And then we get pissed because when they say “trust us” they mean they’re going to *South Park reference* in the ass, *South Park reference* in the mouth, and they act all shocked because they never promised us they wouldn’t go all *South Park reference* on us.

And maybe like the cell phone records, they shuffle off the long-term storage to another entity, such as a private contractor, or a state police agency.

I R A Darth Aggie on January 27, 2015 at 11:57 AM

I don’t think this is a constitutional issue, but there is a lot of power in being able to track individual’s movements and that scares people. We now have a government that acts against the wishes and best interests of the people to enforce policy that certain ideologues believe will push us toward their vision of a Utopian society. They tell us what kind of light bulbs to use, what kind of toilets we are allowed… where we can and cannot drill for oil…
People are starting to feel like it’s too much. Add to that a government that appears to want to watch and record everything we do and it’s easy to see why people get paranoid.

mlimbolimbo on January 27, 2015 at 12:06 PM

PolAgnostic on January 27, 2015 at 10:59 AM
My view is that for all of these “surrender liberty for security” folks (like you, Jazz & GulfCoastBamaFan as examples) who are content to see the Constitutional rights of the citizens SEIZED by the state and then doled back out as the State sees fit … it would be better for all concerned if you emigrated out of America and TO someplace that already operates under conditions you want to see imposed HERE.

I’ve been blessed by having the opportunity to see the world and spend time in lots of different countries.

There are lots of places for progressives, liberals, and other people who don’t view the Constitution as a sacred social contract to go and live under EXACTLY the conditions they espouse.

Strangely enough, none of them take advantage of that liberty.

Amen

I can not think of a single instance where the government (of any stripe) has helped me with my security. The epitome of the opposite is when I was mugged and I was running away from my pursuers straight into a police car passing by on the street. I yelled at the policeman to catch those 2 young men who had been chasing me (which he saw). He refused, asked me to sit down in the car, fill in paperwork, and then promise that I would agree to go to court to testify against them if they were ever caught. All the while the 2 young men ran away, with police officer’s full consent and support.
So can anyone tell me why should I agree to give up more of my liberty to the police state? What are they going to do for me?

3558 on January 27, 2015 at 12:26 PM

Don’t take it personal, cupcake.

My view is that for all of these “surrender liberty for security” folks (like you, Jazz & GulfCoastBamaFan as examples) who are content to see the Constitutional rights of the citizens SEIZED by the state and then doled back out as the State sees fit … it would be better for all concerned if you emigrated out of America and TO someplace that already operates under conditions you want to see imposed HERE.

I’ve been blessed by having the opportunity to see the world and spend time in lots of different countries.

There are lots of places for progressives, liberals, and other people who don’t view the Constitution as a sacred social contract to go and live under EXACTLY the conditions they espouse.

Strangely enough, none of them take advantage of that liberty.

I’d be surprised if I didn’t already know what hypocrites they are.

PolAgnostic on January 27, 2015 at 10:59 AM

Dipshit – you told me to leave the country because I disagreed with you. I’m not even arguing the substance anymore – on which you have no clue what you are talking about.

You are truly deranged.

I never said “surrender liberty for security” – you seem incapable of understaning anything I wrote. I wrote that jurisprudence dealing with the 4th amendment makes it unlikely that pictures of license plates are unconstitutional searches and seizures.

You seem incapable of having a rational debate, instead spewing nonsense rage and claiming to be a world traveler. good for you. I also traveled. I also served in the military for 2 stints in 2 different services, once enlisted, once as an officer.

So what?

You are a rage-filled idiot. Yes, when someone tells me that I should leave the country because I disagree with them, without having any rational thought behind their rant – I’m going to call you names. that is all you deserve. When you don’t have a rational point to make, why do you expect a dignified response?

You’re an idiot.

So, counselor … you don’t even have a general frame of reference to the “idiotic” instances I cited?

Really?

You cited vague generality that have nothing to do with the subject at hand. Cite a specific example you want to talk about not “surveillance of civil rights workers”. Not every case of surveillance was unconstitutional.

I can cite all kinds of things to that have no relevance and are vague:

– surveillance of soviet spies;
– surveillance of mafia members;
– surveillance of terrorist cells;

there – we both cited vague instances of non-relevant things. Explain how that supports your argument of taking a picture of a license on a public street is unconstitutional.

In other words, you are an idiot. I don’t have to be a lawyer to recognize that you are an idiot. You simply are one.

Wow! You post a screed full of ad hominem attacks …

… and yet you claimed to be a lawyer?

whether or not I am a lawyer is irrelevant to the arguments I’m making. I don’t care if you believe I am or not. I just thought it was interesting that I just argued a case on these issues (by local law enforcement, not federal) and then see it come up here.

Again, I have no problem calling you a delusional idiot – because that is what your rants are. Telling me to leave the country because I opined that 4th Amendment jurisprudence tells us that pictures of license plates is not a constitutional violation is deranged. I stand by that. Whether or not I am an attorney I can spot deranged people by their delusional rants. Your rants are delusional – not based on fact or logic but emotion.

All I argued was that like it or not, under current SCOTUS precedent, the license plate photos are probably not unconstitutional. You went on a rant about how I don’t like liberty and have to leave the country. How is that not deranged? Because I tried to explain what current 4th amendment jurisprudence is? think about that for a minute. You hate facts. I simply tried to outline facts and you went off your rocker.

Monkeytoe on January 27, 2015 at 12:40 PM

Ahhhh, so your opinion is paramount to any individual’s or collection of individuals?

Or is your plan to defend excesses based primarily on SCOTUS regardless of things like “Dredd Scott”, etc?

I’m going to leave some of these here just so folks can refresh themselves on what you are arguing AGAINST.

Idiotic. I simply pointed out what SCOTUS jurisprudence is with regard to the 4th amendment. You may disagree with all of that precedent (and there is a ton of it – it’s not one or two outlying cases), but that doesn’t make it go away.

And, once again, you fail to be able to comprehend what I wrote. I wrote almost every time that I am not defending the program, just explaining that it is likely constitutional under the current 4th Amendment Jurisprudence.

I’m sorry that makes you hate me so much, but it is fact. The jurisprudence I try to explain is what exists in the real world. Your interpretation of the Constitution aside (and I would bet that our personal interpretations of the Constitution are closer than you believe), I am explaining what the Courts actually say.

Getting angry and re-quoting the constitution doesn’t change any of that. Some of us try to live in the real world. If you want to start a revolution to overturn SCOTUS precedent – I’m all for it. Let’s do it. But until then, we have to deal with the law as SCOTUS has laid it out.

Monkeytoe on January 27, 2015 at 12:44 PM

And, of course, if a little is useful … more is better? … and everywhere is … perfection???

PolAgnostic on January 27, 2015 at 10:27 AM

In almost every one of my comments I don’t say these programs are good. I’m merely responding to a comment that said that these programs would never work. I pointed out that they would work in some instances.

It is possible to have a rational argument about things and discuss pros and cons, etc. We don’t always have to start at “10” in the rage department and work from there.

I started from then proposition that these programs likely are not unconstitutional (based on current 4th amendment jurisprudence) than want to look at the programs themselves to see the benefits/detriments.

I’m not saying these programs are a good idea, I’m just saying that we can’t pretend there is no law enforcement benefit to them.

Monkeytoe on January 27, 2015 at 12:49 PM

Which side of the argument did you represent?

Were you arguing they were legal?

PolAgnostic on January 27, 2015 at 10:23 AM

the argument was not over whether the practice was legal – but about whether the gov’t entity that collected the data had to give the data out to a third party under the State’s freedom of information statute. The position the gov’t took was that for privacy reasons, only the owner of the license plate at issue was entitled to receipt of the data collected by the gov’t, while the position of the other party was they are entitled to all the data.

There was no challenge to the practice itself in this particular lawsuit (and the few courts that have heard challenges to the practice have found it constitutional – but I was not involved in those cases).

Monkeytoe on January 27, 2015 at 12:53 PM

It’s not the picture that’s the problem.

Any place you wouldn’t have a case against a stranger who had your image in the background of their cell phone camera, you don’t have a case against law enforcement cameras.

But it’s not the picture that’s the problem.

Way back when I was in the Air Force we had to go through periodic “ComSec” training. Communications Security. One of the points they would hit on was “EEFI”. What we called eefees. Those are: Essential Elements of Friendly Information. Seemingly innocuous facts that taken individually meant nothing and contributed nothing to the enemy’s understanding of our plans, etc. However, if enough EEFI is gathered and put together a very vivid picture of our operations could be developed. We were taught to keep our mouths shut about even the smallest details so as not to give the enemy anything at all that he could use.

License plate tracking is an EEFI. Taken on its own it doesn’t mean much. It is, however, a very important element of information that is grouped together with all of the other seemingly harmless bits of tracking that the government does to paint a very invasive picture of each citizen. None of these bits of information is gathered in a vacuum. That is why we should fight every single one of them; because, it is the only way to fight the whole.

The data mining is the problem. Our government does not have the right to do EEFI’s on us without probable cause.

Then again, in theory our government doesn’t have the right to pull us over at random and demand to see our papers, but that didn’t prevent random drunk checks.

GrumpyOldFart on January 27, 2015 at 12:54 PM

The data mining is the problem. Our government does not have the right to do EEFI’s on us without probable cause.

Then again, in theory our government doesn’t have the right to pull us over at random and demand to see our papers, but that didn’t prevent random drunk checks.

GrumpyOldFart on January 27, 2015 at 12:54 PM

there may be a valid argument to that. I’d have to see court decisions regarding the issue. Certainly, the aggregate of data that can be obtained over a period of time could give the gov’t a lot of information about someone.

Monkeytoe on January 27, 2015 at 12:57 PM

secure in your persons

Its a shame the Supreme court went with the ‘presumption of privacy interpretation’ which allows the government to constantly whittle away at our privacy as people get accustomed to more and more invasions instead of asking whether citizens would feel ‘secure in their persons’ with the government constantly looking over their shoulders and recording everything.

agmartin on January 27, 2015 at 1:00 PM

No need to freak out? That depends on exactly how much you trust the government.

And 90 days is much too long for them to retain this data.

There Goes the Neighborhood on January 27, 2015 at 1:16 PM

I don’t think it’s the collection of data that’s worrisome nearly as much as the comprehensiveness of that collection, and the retention of it.

At a bare minimum, all access to the data should be routinely audited, and any unauthorized access — not just by a government employee without proper access, but even by one with the proper access but without a “need to know” — should be a firing offense.

If hospitals have to work under such restrictions with HIPAA laws, then there’s no reason why government employees shouldn’t be held to the same standard.

There Goes the Neighborhood on January 27, 2015 at 1:25 PM

Jazz, your faith in the goodness of government is an inspiration to us all.

Surellin on January 27, 2015 at 1:48 PM

I’m gonna have to give this the same succinct answer I give to any gun “control” proposals. No. No discussion, no “reasoning,” no whining because the power-grabbers aren’t getting their way. Just no.

Laura Castellano on January 27, 2015 at 2:14 PM

but what liberty are you really giving up by allowing the authorities to know where your car is?

Why don’t you ask the guy and his family who was detained for 2 hours while police unnecessarily and without reason searched his car for his legally owned and permitted handgun that he left at home?

xblade on January 27, 2015 at 2:17 PM

Dipshit

You are truly deranged

You seem incapable of having a rational debate, instead spewing nonsense rage and claiming to be a world traveler. good for you. I also traveled.
I also served in the military for 2 stints in 2 different services, once enlisted, once as an officer

You are a rage-filled idiot.

You’re an idiot

In other words, you are an idiot. I don’t have to be a lawyer to recognize that you are an idiot. You simply are one.

Again, I have no problem calling you a delusional idiot

Whether or not I am an attorney I can spot deranged people by their delusional rants. Your rants are delusional – not based on fact or logic but emotion.

Monkeytoe on January 27, 2015 at 12:40 PM

.
Three take aways:

1) See all the items I’ve highlighted in bold? That is called projection – I don’t know, or care, about your problems but you need to consider seeking help if there are other people in your life who are being subjected to these character traits. Repeating the same word over and over again is a big tell and no, I’m not talking about poker.

2) One term as enlisted I might have believed. Enlisted folks get cut more slack on behavioral issues and can still get an honorable discharge. Two terms in two different services and you were an officer in the second service – I am having real trouble accepting the idea you would have gotten even a general discharge if you exhibited the behaviors you have today.

3) *POOF* !You’re a troll

PolAgnostic on January 27, 2015 at 2:26 PM

Three take aways:

1) See all the items I’ve highlighted in bold? That is called projection – I don’t know, or care, about your problems but you need to consider seeking help if there are other people in your life who are being subjected to these character traits. Repeating the same word over and over again is a big tell and no, I’m not talking about poker.

2) One term as enlisted I might have believed. Enlisted folks get cut more slack on behavioral issues and can still get an honorable discharge. Two terms in two different services and you were an officer in the second service – I am having real trouble accepting the idea you would have gotten even a general discharge if you exhibited the behaviors you have today.

3) *POOF* ! – You’re a troll

PolAgnostic on January 27, 2015 at 2:26 PM

Says the guy who responded to my comment that current fourth amendment jurisprudence made the license plate pictures constitutional by telling me I needed to move out of the country.

You are a piece of work. Did not respond rationally with facts or logic to any argument I made, instead told me I had to leave the country.

I responded to your idiotic rant. Here we are. You have yet to put forward a rational thought in response to what I actually wrote, to wit,

a) the license plate pictures are likely constitutional under current jurisprudence; and

b) I was not judging whether the program itself was good or bad.

Again, ask yourself why you went into a spittle-rage over my innocuous comment and declared that I needed to leave the country?

I encourage everyone to read all of our back-and-forth.

I am not projecting, merely responding in the kind of language you apparently can understand.

If you had any interest in actually responding intelligently to any of my comments, I’d be happy to forego the back and forth name calling, which you started by telling me I needed to leave the country.

Once you recognize that your rant began all this, and that you failed to even once put forward a coherent thought in response to my actual points, maybe you will calm down enough to engage in actual conversation rather than lick-spittle rants.

As I said, I am sick of commenters who a) don’t bother to read a comment before responding to it with rage; and b) can’t make a coherent response to rational thought, facts, and argument.

Whether you believe I served or not, I don’t care. I’m just pointing out that your lick-spittle rage induced rants about who is and is not a patriot or who does or does not belong in the country are fueled almost entirely by ignorance as you have no idea who you are responding to when you write things like “I’ve had the chance to travel . . .” Yeah? Big whup. So have I. How does that respond in any way to anything?

think about it. Perhaps you’ll calm down enough to actually respond intelligently.

Monkeytoe on January 27, 2015 at 2:36 PM

Polagnostic,

This was your first comment to me:

Seems to me I can recall various government and police agencies in this country doing this at various times for the “protection of the public”:

Union busting in the 1920′s & 1930′s
Surveillance of anti-segregationists
Surveillance of anti-war protesters
Tax enforcement officers (ironic that Sam Adams was a tax collector with a conscience, eh?)
Surveillance of environmentalist groups in the 1960′s & 1970′s

I can also recall various JUDGES and elected officials pointing out these WERE Constitutional violations and bringing the hammer down on the offenders.

But NOW, this time is different … because it can be EVEN MORE EGREGIOUSLY????

When I started this response, I didn’t intend to go here … but as I started listing off just SOME of the past abuses ….

GTFO of America and emigrate to the United Kingdom.

They have lots of SHEEPLE just like you and NO Bill of Rights!!!

PolAgnostic on January 27, 2015 at 9:49 AM

All I did was respond in kind.

But, while responding in kind, I pointed out that above is not an argument, just a bunch of vague assertions. I pointed out whether or not surveillance was constitutional in each instance would be based on the actual specifics of an actual instance, not just vague “surveillance of ‘x'”.

I pointed out that I can point to surveillance in vague terms that we would all think valid, such as “surveillance of KGB agents during the cold war”; “surveillance of terrorists”, so your rant above is not an “argument”. All it is is emotion and telling me to leave the country because you emotionally – not factually or logically – disagree with my assertion that current fourth department jurisprudence would likely find the license plate photos constitutional. Again – think about that for a minute – your hate filled rant above was in response to an opinion on current jurisprudence.

As I said, the above is not a factual argument or a logical argument or even a knowledgeable discussion of fourth amendment jurisprudence. It is merely saying a bunch of vague things and then telling me to leave the country.

Monkeytoe on January 27, 2015 at 2:43 PM

Yeah, don’t worry, no liberty issues to worry about. Right Jazz?

Over a year ago we brought you the story of Mr. Filippidis and his family, a Florida Driver who was pulled over by law enforcement in Maryland. The traffic stop would have been typical except for the fact the responding officer demanded, at random, Mr. Filippidis’s firearm.

Mr. Filippidis did not have his legally owned -CCW permitted- hand gun, it was home in Florida. Nor did Mr. Filippidis ever say he had a firearm – yet the officer was insistent Mr. Filippidis owned one, handcuffed Mr. Filippidis, and strip searched his vehicle on the side of the road.

Numerous Maryland state police arrived to assist in the search. They found nothing, because Mr. F was telling the truth. After two hours Mr. Filippidis and his family were allowed to continue their travels, but the entire process was unnerving.

Which prompted Mr. Filippidis to ask “how did a Maryland officer know I was a gun owner”? Which led to a severely awkward litany of obfuscations and explanations from Maryland that did not make sense.

Sensing more to the story, we began an official public records request inquiry to get to the bottom of the issue(s). What we found was a network of federally funded, but state operated, Maryland APLR (automatic license plate readers) which were tied into an intelligence hub (ie database) called MCAC (Maryland Coordination and Analysis Center).

The information within the MCAC database contains a litany of information, including CCW permits, which are data-mined from cooperative state/local/county agency LEO and alternate state controlled governmental databases throughout the country.

The data, essentially a portfolio of all contact a person has with any governmental regulatory agency, is then cross referenced into the vehicle registration (tag) of every licensed car in the system.

Read the rest here: http://theconservativetreehouse.com/2015/01/27/wsj-report-u-s-spies-on-millions-of-cars-aligns-with-our-20132014-maryland-mcac-hub-research/#more-95835

But shhh, don’t tell Big Gov Jazz. Nothing to see here, move along, move along. Jazz says it’s okay and there’s no liberty component.

xblade on January 27, 2015 at 2:47 PM

I don’t think it’s the collection of data that’s worrisome nearly as much as the comprehensiveness of that collection, and the retention of it.

At a bare minimum, all access to the data should be routinely audited, and any unauthorized access — not just by a government employee without proper access, but even by one with the proper access but without a “need to know” — should be a firing offense.

If hospitals have to work under such restrictions with HIPAA laws, then there’s no reason why government employees shouldn’t be held to the same standard.

There Goes the Neighborhood on January 27, 2015 at 1:25 PM

Very reasonable, and might have been persuasive prior to the disclosures that the IRS and other departments illegally access information for political partisanship and personal vendettas.
And I bet there is a lot that hasn’t been disclosed yet.

The balancing act is the problem for every trade-off of security and liberty, and the actions of malicious government agents have to be part of the equation.

AesopFan on January 27, 2015 at 3:28 PM

Read the rest here: http://theconservativetreehouse.com/2015/01/27/wsj-report-u-s-spies-on-millions-of-cars-aligns-with-our-20132014-maryland-mcac-hub-research/#more-95835

Tyranny by a thousand cuts, and we have to keep that in the forefront.
The data-mining and dot-connecting would not be such a terrible problem if we didn’t have fascists with access and agendas.

Build a better mouse-trap, and someone will find a use for it that was never intended.

AesopFan on January 27, 2015 at 3:32 PM

One of the most common is the fact that your right to privacy essentially drops to zero once you leave your home and go out in the public square.

That’s a “fact”…really? I must be rusty on the Constitution. I can’t recall it saying that anywhere.

Honestly, I just can’t get upset over a database which tracks license plates for ninety days.

For just 90 days and they’ll dump it all…we can trust them…you really believe that?

That information is useful in numerous situations where police are trying to apprehend criminals,

Since when has digital technology ever reduced crime? Could be wrong, but it seems that criminals merely expand into new hi-tech crimes along with the new technologies, or figure out how to defeat these.

And how many criminals are we talking about here? Even when caught the old-fashioned way, it doesn’t appear that many do all that much time (if any) and are little dissuaded from crime judging by prison recidivism rates.

Dr. ZhivBlago on January 27, 2015 at 4:19 PM

Many people hate the slippery slope argument, but this really does seem to be a slippery slope. If it is apropos to collect data concerning your whereabouts when driving, then why not everything about it?

On board computers can tell them where you have been, what speeds, you have been traveling, whether your vehicle has been putting out too much pollution, so why not send us tickets for all the infractions?

As for tracking our whereabouts, it seems to be encroaching on the realm of entrapment.

Neitherleftorright on January 27, 2015 at 5:17 PM

but what liberty are you really giving up by allowing the authorities to know where your car is

Just insert the words “whatever they want to know”. Your entire article supports the “whatever” need for government spying.

Pro tip: Police states don’t hand out knee pads. But you will need them.

BobMbx on January 27, 2015 at 6:18 PM

but what liberty are you really giving up by allowing the authorities to know where your car is

The liberty of the government not knowing where my car is.

lorien1973 on January 27, 2015 at 7:02 PM

Well, I’m quite late to the party.

Anyway, I’m curious how the current laws are written on this. Maybe the government could get away with this legally, as long as the licensing/information is public record. But maybe not, if there are technicalities. I’d like to hear more opinions on any lawyers hanging around on this thread.

DevilishSoda on January 27, 2015 at 11:48 PM

Honestly, I just can’t get upset over a database which tracks license plates for ninety days. And frankly I’m not sure I really want a court standing in the way of the cops accessing that information while they wait for a warrant.

Ok, Jazz, so if your ex-girlfriend is a cop, and she checks on your movement every week; and then spreads gossip about where you are… that shouldn’t be prevented? This is necessary and any limitation is bad, so I guess this is necessary for your safety or something.

Stalking you via government cameras is useful and necessary and we shouldn’t prevent it… because abuse of power is a good thing?

Get a warrant, or at least have probable cause of a crime of a serious nature before allowing someone to go randomly searching this for their own use.

Otherwise you’ve got abuse of power just asking to happen, on a regular basis, with no limitation.

This is like reading the NSA operatives check up on people or personal reasons without authorization; and being told not to care. The only reason I can imagine not to care is you have a position where you think you can get this information, and personally also want to abuse that power.

Or you’re so naive you believe government officials would never abuse power, even if there aren’t any rules of punishments for abusing that power.

Why else wouldn’t you put some minimal safeguards and restrictions on who can use that data, and when, and why?

gekkobear on January 28, 2015 at 6:21 AM

secure in their persons

…now “just words”

Knott Buyinit on January 28, 2015 at 8:00 PM

I was going to dig up this post and link the story to the DEA/ATF wanting to take photos of cars and people at gun shows, but I see it’s been done.

THIS is the reason why you don’t give up an inch of your privacy.

Because if you give up that inch…

archer52 on January 29, 2015 at 10:04 AM