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DEA Wants To Install License Plate Scanners and Retain Data for Two Years 295

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the freedom-of-movement-denied dept.
An anonymous reader writes with news that might make privacy advocates a bit uneasy. From the article: "Everyone driving on Interstate 15 in southwest Utah may soon have their license plate scanned by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration. The DEA and two sheriffs are asking permission to install stationary license plate scanners on the freeway in Beaver and Washington counties. The primary purpose would be to catch or build cases against drug traffickers, but at a Utah Legislature committee meeting Wednesday, the sheriffs and a DEA representative described how the scanners also could be used to catch kidnappers and violent criminals. That, however, wasn't the concern of skeptical legislators on the Law Enforcement and Criminal Justice Interim Committee. They were worried about the DEA storing the data for two years and who would be able to access it."
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DEA Wants To Install License Plate Scanners and Retain Data for Two Years

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  • Scary (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 22, 2012 @12:17AM (#40072981)

    First they store it for 2 years.. which is terrifying enough.. but we all know that will become 3 years.. then 4.. and before we know it, they'll be storying license plate scans for centuries.

    At least future historians will have detailed records on who drove over Interstate 15 in southwest Utah in the 21's century. Of course they'll probably assume the plates represent our names or something..

    • Re:Scary (Score:5, Funny)

      by game kid (805301) on Tuesday May 22, 2012 @12:46AM (#40073101) Homepage

      At least future historians will have detailed records on who drove over Interstate 15 in southwest Utah in the 21's century. Of course they'll probably assume the plates represent our names or something..

      "I am not a free man, I am a number!"

      --no, that can't be right...

    • by Lumpy (12016)

      If a criminal had ANY clue they would swap plates at minimum, or go high tech and use a nice bright display that can change to whatever they want.

      Scan and store license plates, Yeah this will only catch the idiot drug runners, or simply increase the amount of car thefts so they can borrow a car for a drug run.

    • by flyneye (84093)

      Not to worry though, since it's public knowledge about the plate scanners, I envision drug runners changing plates or occasionally using a different car.
      As for aggregating useful data, they are going to find a lot of patterns. Commercial drivers, Buses, weekly delivery routes, service routes, People driving a long way to work every day. Police aren't picked for duty by having a high i.q. In fact every dept. I've ever heard of across the country avoids high i.q. as the hallmark of an independent thinker who

    • Re:Scary (Score:5, Funny)

      by mwfischer (1919758) on Tuesday May 22, 2012 @09:05AM (#40075429) Journal

      If only the government had a listing of everyone's license plate. That would be scary!

    • by fearlezz (594718)

      Yup. Exactly how it happened in the Netherlands. Unfortunately, we have these license plate scanners around all big cities. They were installed after politicians promised they would never store license plates that weren't linked to serious crimes. Just a few years later, ALL license plates are stored for a longer period.

      And know what the good part is? Real criminals don't fear the camera's at all. Last week a report on this subject was published: http://goo.gl/W8OF8 [goo.gl] . The total of 230 camera's placed on jus

  • Change of Scope (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward
    Vehicle license plates exist as a means for police to identify a car when the need arises. Now we have automated systems that are capable of identifying EVERY car, and the police want to deploy these systems. This will result in millions of car license plate database searches on law abiding citizens with no probable cause. In addition, the police will record the time and place where each vehicle was spotted to develop a search-able intelligence database. They can perform queries on the database to ident
    • This is why I am seriously starting to consider rigging up some very high power IR LEDs. From what I have been reading most of these new automated license plate readers are designed to work in the IR range, which is why a lot of states' license plates are being redesigned. I am not sure what would be better, illuminating the plate so it is overexposed or illuminating some other part so it under exposes the plate. Either way I think it would be best to pump out enough power to leave a permanent ghost image i
  • Sorry Utah! (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward

    Sorry Utah, but I think I will bypass your state from now on (if you allow this). All we need is more "Big Brother" surveillance of innocent people who may want to keep their whereabouts private, and for perfectly legitimate (and legal) reasons! Tracking plates on the US/Mexico border is only slightly less onerous, but hundreds of miles away from the immediate border area? That's simply frightful! FWIW, I was once the subject of a Mafia "contract". Needless to say, having my whereabouts known, and for no g

  • Cut to the chase (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Okian Warrior (537106) on Tuesday May 22, 2012 @12:49AM (#40073119) Homepage Journal

    How will this turn out? Let's see.

    Eenie meenie, chili beanie...

    1) DEA installs license plate scanners.
    2) Police stop vehicles which fit the profile of drug smuggling.
    3) Years pass. Many, many innocent people's rights are violated
    4) Police find drugs in some stopped car, arrests are made.
    5) Plaintiffs complain that police had no right to stop car based on profile
    6) ACLU gets involved. Appeal goes to federal court.
    7) Federal court overturns conviction on grounds that there was no probable cause (or not - this is Utah, after all)
    8) Case is presented to supreme court. Supreme court upholds 4th amendment, license scanning is not probable cause.

    End result: Many innocent people have their rights violated, some arrests are made. About a million dollars are spent on one case to bring it to the supreme court, ten years of some person's life is lost fighting it, and eventually the DEA is told to stop. During this time, drug smuggling is reduced by less than one part in a million. Millions of dollars spent on the system are wasted when the system is dismantled.

    For once, can we please just cut to the chase? Just stop these idiots from the beginning and a whole lot of people will save a whole lot of effort, money, time, and grief.

    • by paiute (550198) on Tuesday May 22, 2012 @01:21AM (#40073327)

      How will this turn out? Let's see.

      End result: Many innocent people have their rights violated, some arrests are made. About a million dollars are spent on one case to bring it to the supreme court, ten years of some person's life is lost fighting it, and eventually the DEA is told to stop. During this time, drug smuggling is reduced by less than one part in a million. Millions of dollars spent on the system are wasted when the system is dismantled.

      Spending a million dollars is worth it if it prevents just one child's life from being destroyed by a marijuana joint.

    • by CodeBuster (516420) on Tuesday May 22, 2012 @04:52AM (#40074207)

      For once, can we please just cut to the chase? Just stop these idiots from the beginning and a whole lot of people will save a whole lot of effort, money, time, and grief.

      Yes, but then what would all those DEA people do for a living? Besides, the bureaucrats and private prison operators have budgets and contracts to protect. The "War on Drugs" is big business after all, and not just for the cartels. It would all be funny, in a farcical sort of way, if the real life consequences weren't so deadly serious.

    • by potat0man (724766)
      How about we really cut to the chase and end the drug war completely? It is the biggest excuse for violating the 4th amendment that the government has. Get rid of the drug war and police will have next to no reasons to search random cars, to bust down doors and trespass into people's private homes, or to stop random black kids in the hopes of ruining their future. It's senseless, and this is just one permutation of it.
    • One thing people always forget is that such systems cost money to install and operate.

      Today the DEA wants to use it against drug trafficking. But let's be realistic, they won't catch many (criminals are not idiots), but the system will continue to cost money. So they extend the goal to include other crimes as well. Perhaps even mistermeaners. All just to justify the costs. And to fight crime o/c.

      This is basically the chicken-egg problem that will wind up costing a lot of money but only bring little actual v

  • by l0ungeb0y (442022) on Tuesday May 22, 2012 @12:54AM (#40073167) Homepage Journal

    Ahh yes, the ardent American Citizen, sitting there able to do nothing while the value of his shitty little Dollar drops year after year, his bankers and his own Government are blatantly and openly lying and stealing from him and doing and end run around his precious Constitutional Rights with Wars on Ideas -- and he clings to his gun saying "I can at least defend myself from them if it gets to that" -- ignoring the fact that his Government has enough weaponry to quickly turn any Popular Revolt with their tiny pea shooters into a grease stain in short order -- and even then, every Congressional session has new talk of attempts to enact laws to outlaw or further restrict ownership of peashooters -- just be on the safe side, it is after all best not to take risks.

    What will it take for the Ardent American to use his precious armaments? Government Cameras up his ass? Face it -- you are a slave. Go to school, pass your exams, indenture yourself to a College, get a job, be useful, be productive, consume and create more consumers to replace you.

    Your rights, your guns, your "freedom" -- are little more than a novelty meant to humor you.
    More wars on American Citizens have been enacted in the last 30 years than wars against enemy nations.

  • Enough already! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by blindseer (891256) <blindseer&earthlink,net> on Tuesday May 22, 2012 @12:58AM (#40073195)

    Time to get rid of the DEA. They just keep thinking up new ways to pry into our lives with the intent of ensuring the purity of our bodily fluids.

    Billions of taxpayers' dollars are spent on these yahoos every year and what do we get out of it. Money spent so they can set quotas on the production of medicines and now we have shortages of common medications for the treatment of pain, cancer, and mental disorders.

    This has become very personal for me. Because of an injury from military service I get my pain medications from the VA clinic in town. Since it is a controlled substance the physician can only write a prescription for 30 days. The VA clinic has a nice system where I just go into the office and fill out a form so the physician can rubber stamp the prescription for the next month. I have it pretty good, relatively. I feel sorry for those that don't have their meds handed out by the government.

    I can only imagine what someone else, someone that has to get the same meds by a private entity. Would they have to schedule a face to face examination with their physician every month? How much would that cost them? Would any insurance company cover the cost of providing a monthly supply of narcotics for a condition that existed prior to signing up for their plan?

    I've heard all kinds of horror stories of people that happened to be caught with a pill bottle, or just a single pill, that a friend or relative had forgotten and was left in the person's car, bag, or apartment. Being in the possession of a controlled substance is a felony unless prescribed by a physician. Do we want people to get sent to prison for five years because they tried to return the medicine that grandma left behind when she went to see her grandkids?

    FTFA:

    "I'll be quite frank with you," Oda told Newcomb. "A lot of us in Utah don't trust the federal government."

    I don't either. They claim they won't use this database for the purpose of enforcing misdemeanors and traffic violations. What keeps them from breaking this promise?

    I can see this already, someone will get the great idea of placing two of these along a well traveled route. The computers controlling these two stations will be connected together to compute the average speed of anyone that crosses these two points. Automatic speeding tickets will get mailed to the registered owner of the vehicle.

    I'd bet dollars to donuts that would happen if these license plate scanners get installed.

    • by shiftless (410350)

      Exactly bro. You nailed it. The laws on the books have been way past the point of tyranny for years. Now they are tightening the screws down tighter and tighter, trying to extract (translation: rob at gunpoint) more and more money from the people to pay for their fucking mistakes. This shit is about to blow up in their faces, big time.

    • by TubeSteak (669689)

      Time to get rid of the DEA. They just keep thinking up new ways to pry into our lives with the intent of ensuring the purity of our bodily fluids.

      Keep the DEA, decriminalize the drugs.
      We'll still need the DEA to control perscription drugs, but that isn't what the traffickers are mostly interested in moving across borders.

      • by blindseer (891256)

        If we decriminalize the drugs then what exactly is the role of the DEA? I thought the regulation of prescription drugs was the FDA's job.

        If there is no crime in access to what are now controlled substances then would not all these controlled substances become over the counter products? No more regulated than Tylenol?

        I suppose one could argue that the drugs would still need a prescription but no longer be a controlled substance but I'm confused on how that would work. If there is no crime in providing the

        • The important point you're missing is that "decriminalization" means decriminalization of POSSESSION - not decriminalization of SALE.

          Sales of a prescription-only drug would still be illegal - pharmacies or any legal entity would still be barred from selling you morphine unless you have a prescription. However, simply having the drug in your possession, would be legal - so long as you don't try selling it to someone else.

          What this effectively does is to decriminalize users of a drug, and anyone else who co
      • by mcgrew (92797) *

        Decriminalization doesn't solve the big problem, which is the violence and other assorted societal problems prohibition causes. All it does is make the drug users OK with the BAD law.

        The only drugs that should be illegal is antibiotics. That is the only class of drugs that your taking directly affects me, by breeding superbugs.

        If you want to screw up your own life, why should I care? There are plenty of perfectly legal ways to screw your life up.

    • The DEA is only a subset of 'the government', not in charge of it.
      Think about how much real power 'the government' has over its branches. They might manage the bosses, but what goes on inside is not monitored by 'the government'.

      And how often do you hear of branches doing stuff they should not? Do you honestly think it is always 'an order from them man himself'? Don't kid yourself.

      Problem is, they are all in the same boat so they will be very cautious to beat themselves for any wrong doing.
      If a branch gets

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 22, 2012 @01:03AM (#40073225)

    Defund the DEA. People are going to get high. The only real questions are:

    1. How much will it cost to treat the health problems that causes?

    2. Who is going to get the money from selling the drugs?

    With DEA in place, the answer to question (2) is that the DEA splits it with cartels and some small fish while raping the taxpayers. The health costs are born by everybody else. Tax the drugs, and the money will go to the government. Drugs (in the absence of health problems) become a profit center for the people instead of a cost center. Of course some drugs will cause health problems. The rational answer to that is to figure out how much it costs to treat them, and tax the drugs enough to pay for them. There might be some cases where the tax isn't enough to cover the health costs without re-creating the black market. I really don't know. Does the tax on alcohol, a perfectly legal substance, come anywhere near paying for the health problems it causes? What about the health problems it helps (yep, it's good in moderation). Some drugs will bring in more money than they cost in health problems (pot). Others will probably not bring in much money, but will cause serious health problems (meth). It ought to be possible to balance the cash cows against the losers. First things first though:

    Defund the DEA, reduce the national debt, quit wasting time, money, and lives.

    • by Fjandr (66656)

      Does the tax on alcohol, a perfectly legal substance, come anywhere near paying for the health problems it causes?

      More than likely not even close (it would be monstrously difficult to actually quantify the cost), but the economic and societal cost of its continued illegality were crystal clear.

      It's too bad the Supreme Court decided Congress can regulate items which don't impact interstate commerce because their lack of impact is an impact by its absence (they are masters at torturing logic).

      The Constitution

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by umghhh (965931)
      I do not think there is an easy solution even if I am for legalisation. The way Dutch were was OK - they were relaxed about the drugs themselves there were even police officers in discos testing for purity so that suckers that consumed party pills did not end up as a said cost center. This all accompanied by education based on information and not scaremongering - kids are not stupid so if you tell them they are gonna die after one joint (silly lie) and get addicted after one meeting with meth or coke (true)
  • Sounds like the DEA's biggest mistake was asking for permission. They should just go ahead and authorize themselves to do the scanning and data retention, and then shove it down our throats for our own good.

  • http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F90wnuWo6jk [youtube.com]
    Shows the driver face capture, plate capture, passenger face capture and network link on one small roadside camera setting.
  • Copyright the sequence of letters and numbers that comprise your license plate. Even better, make it a personalized license plate that demonstrates your creativity, and have the design officially recorded at the US Copyright Office. If you have the ability, develop an algorithm that you can fit on a license plate, and submit your application to the US Patent Office. Now set up a website where users pay a fee to see your license plate. Make it known to the world that you will be engaging in performance a

  • Not unlike Godwin's Law about discussions degenerating until someone pulls the nazi card, a similar law exists about privacy-eroding proposals: Argue that in order to protect us against something really bad (terrorists, drug trafficking etc.) we need X, which incidentally also can help protect us against some almost as bad (kidnappers, violent criminals etc.), thus offering us a multi-pronged tool that can do almost everything against the badness out there. Scared people loves stuff like this.

    But they forge

  • by sociocapitalist (2471722) on Tuesday May 22, 2012 @02:59AM (#40073827)

    As if drug traffickers always use the same vehicles....

  • by Max_W (812974)
    One more reason to cycle.

    The compulsory bicycle helmet and glasses make also face-recognition impossible.

    Cycling is also good for physical shape and moral. Even a criminal may think: "...wait a minute, I can move around for free, I have an excellent physical shape now, I am constantly in good mood, I eat less, ... maybe I do not need all this illegal money that much ...".
  • This is yet another example of the prosecution of the drug war infringing on the rights, not only of the people who want to buy and sell the drugs, but everyone else. The time is well past to end the damn thing. Pursuing it costs way too much money, disrupts too many innocent lives, violates free market principles, diverts law enforcement/judicial/penal resources from actual crimes, provides riches and power to murderous gangs who otherwise wouldn't exist, encourages similar (if less violent) government int
  • Don't travel abroad if License Plate Scanning bothers you. Google it, boys. Most countries now do it on all their borders, in the least. Users (countries) don't always advertise it but the makers of License Plate Scanning systems are all over the web. You guys need to travel more. Welcome to the rest of the world.
  • Highway surveillance is outright prohibited [state.nh.us] here.

  • The primary purpose would be to catch or build cases against drug traffickers, but at a Utah Legislature committee meeting Wednesday, the sheriffs and a DEA representative described how the scanners also could be used to catch kidnappers and violent criminals.

    How long will it be until they lower the freeway speed limit "for safety," place two scanners a few miles apart on the highway, use the data to calculate your average velocity, and then send you an automated speeding ticket?

    Of course, the primary purpose of the system will be to catch drug traffickers and child molesters for your safety, but the state would like the secondary objective to be profit.

    This reeks of a government scare tactic to increase state authority at the expense of citizen privacy. If law

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