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Police Departments Using Car Tracking Database Sworn To Secrecy 202

Posted by timothy
from the you-swear-not-to-reveal-the-swearing-in dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Vigilant Solutions maintains what they claim is the nation's largest database of license-plate tracking data, 'LEARN' (Law Enforcement Archival and Reporting Network). But when a law enforcement agency signs up to use the database, they are sworn to keep it secret. The reason? They are quite clear about that: 'to prohibit users from cooperating with any media outlet to bring attention to LEARN or LEARN-NVLS.' So, they're tracking you (they're tracking everybody)... but they don't want you to know. The agreement, uncovered by the Electronic Frontier Foundation, states: You shall not create, publish, distribute, or permit any written, electronically transmitted or other form of publicity material that makes reference to LEARN or this Agreement without first submitting the material to LEARN-NVLS and receiving written consent from LEARN-NVLS. This prohibition is specifically intended to prohibit users from cooperating with any media outlet to bring attention to LEARN or LEARN-NVLS. Breach this provision may result in LEARN-NVLS immediately termination of this Agreement upon notice to you."

Immediately after WIRED published the story, though, the agreement mysteriously changed. The secrecy provision is still there, but the statement that it's 'specifically intended' to prevent the media attention has vanished."
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Police Departments Using Car Tracking Database Sworn To Secrecy

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 06, 2014 @11:43AM (#46929375)

    As long as the cameras are in public places or with the approval of the owner of private garages, it is not illegal. It is however very unwanted by the populace, as those who have nothing to hide don't want to feel like they need to start hiding.

    While this is (hopefully) just an aggregation of public data, it can (possibly) provide the same scale of information that GPS trackers on every car would provide (at somewhat lower detail). Since a warrant is needed to GPS a car, this sort of thing has entered a legal loophole that its owners do not want closed.

  • Paranoia (Score:3, Insightful)

    by meta-monkey (321000) on Tuesday May 06, 2014 @11:48AM (#46929431) Journal

    The elites are terrified. Absolutely terrified of the middle and lower classes.

  • by PeeAitchPee (712652) on Tuesday May 06, 2014 @11:48AM (#46929437)
    Link to the story [tbo.com] that you mention from the Tampa newspaper. Maryland police forces have a history of this kind of thuggish behavior; even now, the MD State Police and the MD press (e.g., the Baltimore Sun) refuse to comment or even report on this story.
  • Re:So (Score:5, Insightful)

    by BiIl_the_Engineer (3618863) on Tuesday May 06, 2014 @11:56AM (#46929513)

    I drive on PUBLIC roads but I don't want people to know where I drive.

    It's not that I don't want random people to be able to see me; it's that I don't want my own fucking government to install surveillance equipment everywhere (or hire others to do so) in an effort to automatically track my location. Stop equating the two, you dumb shits.

    Some people really need to live in another country for a while to understand what REAL civil rights violations are like.

    The mere fact that the situation could be worse does not mean that what's happening is not bad. What terrible logic.

    What, you got punched in the face? That's not a bad thing, because starving people in Africa are much worse off!

  • Even more chilling (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Mike Ice (3637719) on Tuesday May 06, 2014 @11:59AM (#46929549)
    Vigilant Solutions warehouses the data themselves and then sells it back to the consumer (in this case the local Police). To avoid ACLU issues with the Police actually handling the data they prefer to use Vigilant. Vigilant also shares this data between these organizations - so much so that going with any other system becomes pointless for the local Police. In short - one corporation having access to the location and habits of much of the country and then controlling access to that data. Chilling indeed.
  • Re:So (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 06, 2014 @12:05PM (#46929623)

    - - I drive on PUBLIC roads but I don't want people to know where I drive.

      - It's not that I don't want random people to be able to see me; it's that I don't want my own fucking government to install surveillance equipment everywhere (or hire others to do so) in an effort to automatically track my location. Stop equating the two, you dumb shits.

    Exactly- there's a difference between "you're in public, so people can see where you are" and "Let's build a tracking system that tracks EVERYBODY, ALL THE TIME, and keeps the records FOREVER."

  • Not surprising (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Registered Coward v2 (447531) on Tuesday May 06, 2014 @12:10PM (#46929679)

    Companies that collect data are realizing people are starting to become more aware of what is being collected and concerned about it. If enough people start making noise Congress may start to act and limit what can be collected and how it is used.

    Here is an interesting thought for the real lawyers that read /. Could someone subpoena their data, if say they were charged with crime? Or as part of a civil suit? I would think not since they really aren't a part of the issue unless perhaps the cops used the data to locate someone or in an investigation, in which case this layman's view is the accused would have a right to see the data and challenge its use.

    Of course, if the data became public imagine the havoc it could cause. Could you see the reaction from an elected official if a reporter showed up and asked them very detailed questions about their comings and goings?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 06, 2014 @12:20PM (#46929807)

    It's perfectly legal to track vehicles on PUBLIC roads. Don't like it build (and pay for) your own road network.

    Wrong.

    In the US, anyway, government entities are supposed to get a warrant before they can attach a surreptitious GPS tracker to any car, even one used solely on public roads.

  • by davester666 (731373) on Tuesday May 06, 2014 @12:40PM (#46930055) Journal

    They learned from the best, namely criminals. If nobody talks, everybody walks.

  • by LifesABeach (234436) on Tuesday May 06, 2014 @01:02PM (#46930365)
    With respect to evidence in the state of California, if ALL, and I mean ALL evidence that the state/county have is not made available, then the Defendent can move for a Mistrial.
  • by currently_awake (1248758) on Tuesday May 06, 2014 @01:11PM (#46930499)
    if you have proof they are terrorists then have a trial and lock them up. if you don't have proof then you are just guessing, and nobody should be locked up because of that.
  • by gerardrj (207690) on Tuesday May 06, 2014 @01:20PM (#46930657) Journal

    If you are going to detain people under the laws of the United States then those people should have all the protections of the laws of the United States. Equality under the law is a core principle.

    The people in Guantanamo are not terrorists. They are accused terrorists. Send them to the international criminal court for proper trial.

  • by Joey Vegetables (686525) on Tuesday May 06, 2014 @02:05PM (#46931319) Journal
    Something like that is part of the federal rules of civil procedure, as well as those of most if not all states. Unfortunately it is up to the judge to enforce and many judges simply won't, unless the prosecution has done something to piss him or her off. Collusion between cops, prosecutors, and judges is very common, as in the end they all work for the same system and have much to gain and little to lose by cooperating.

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