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ACLU Protests Police Scanning License Plates 821

dustman81 writes "The ACLU is objecting to the practice of police in Springdale, Ohio using an automated license-plate scanner on patrol cars to locate stolen vehicles or those whose owners are wanted on felony warrants. The scanner can read 900 license plates an hour traveling at highway speeds. So far, the scanner has located 95 stolen cars and helped locate 111 wanted felons. The locations of the license plates scanned are tagged with GPS data. All matches are stored (with no expiration date given) and can be brought up later and cross-referenced on a map. If the plate is wanted, the times and locations of where it was scanned can be referenced. The Springdale police department hopes to begin using the system soon to locate misdemeanor suspects. This system is also in use in British Columbia."
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ACLU Protests Police Scanning License Plates

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  • by seriesrover ( 867969 ) <> on Monday July 30, 2007 @12:11AM (#20038265)
    The slippery slope arguement is completely over used. There are scenarios in which it is valid but in this instance its a bolloxy point. The police are just automating an existing manual and lengthy process. If this ever continues down the slippery slope to an unconstitutional situation then thats the time to challenge it in court, but not before.

    I would have a lot more sympathy if the ACLU showed some signs of common sense once in a while.

  • Re:Yes and No (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 30, 2007 @12:16AM (#20038313)
    I say let the police do all the automated tracking they want, but encrypt the data and set the system up so that it can only be decrypted by court order. Then the police can use the data when they have reason to, but they can't go on fishing expeditions or use the data for personal vendettas.
  • However (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 30, 2007 @12:26AM (#20038385)
    Given that America today tends to criminalize anything and everything, and there are those of us who feel that many arrests are clear violations of privacy, I'm for letting a large percentage of the "criminals" go about their lives without interference from the draconian law-enforcement arm of our near-socialist government. Even many "real" criminals are simply victims of our overbearing, unfair society.

    Granted, not every single criminal should go free; there are some true criminals out there that are a danger to others out of true malice, and obviously I have no pity for them.

    This being a very unpopular opinion and likely modded down to oblivion, and one I don't want directly associated with any identity I use online, this post will have to be Anonymous.
  • by feepness ( 543479 ) on Monday July 30, 2007 @12:27AM (#20038395) Homepage
    And since this has always been publicly available... it is just information demanding to be released from it's bonds.
  • by khasim ( 1285 ) <> on Monday July 30, 2007 @12:36AM (#20038477)
    Here, read up on cops who commit crimes. []

    Yes, a cop on the street can follow you around and record where you go and when. But you would be able to see him doing that. You would know.

    More importantly, the cop would have to skip other crimes to pursue you.

    The information has always been there, and they could have recorded it if they liked. So it's nothing new.

    And the Gatling gun wasn't anything new compared to the musket. Yet it certainly changed land warfare.

    Sometimes increasing the speed of an action does change the situation. And automating data collection on people NOT accused of a crime does change the situation.
  • by adrianmonk ( 890071 ) on Monday July 30, 2007 @01:04AM (#20038709)

    Yeah, deleted after a while. Like, scan it, then immediately look it up in a hash table, and if the plate doesn't match that of a stolen car, fugitive, or someone with an outstanding warrant, then delete it right then and there, before it's written to any form of non-volatile storage.

  • by khasim ( 1285 ) <> on Monday July 30, 2007 @01:15AM (#20038773)

    How does it change the situation?

    By automating the surveillance of people who are not suspected of any crime.

    The same arguement could be made against permitting police to use helecopters. Or unmarked cars. Or squad cars. Or horses. Or bicycles. Or the internet. Or computers. Or telephones. Or binoculars. Or tape recorders. Or radar guns. And so on...

    Nope. As long as it's one cop following one person and the person can see the cop, it doesn't matter.

    What changes is when the cops can automatically track people who are not suspected of any crime.

    The entire argument is a load of crap. If the cops can do something manually, they can do it with some sort of technological assistance.

    That's why I gave the example of the Gatling Gun. And it did change the situation.

    Therefore, automating a process DOES change the situation.

    The legallity of the action being performed doesn't change just because a computer lets them do more of it or do it faster.

    It should. Because automating it allows for more abuse of they system. And cops DO abuse the system. []

    If I am not suspected of any crime, why do you support surveilling me?

    Fascism begins when the efficiency of the Government becomes more important than the Rights of the People.
  • by Grail ( 18233 ) on Monday July 30, 2007 @01:32AM (#20038891) Journal
    The catch, of course, being that you don't know what information you might want to hide from tomorrow's fascist dictatorship.

    Today, it was cool to be cruising up and down the mall showing off your car to attract eligible young ladies. Tomorrow, after the oil runs out, all those people cruising up and down the mall become retrospectively guilty of various emissions breaches, and crimes against the environment. Or maybe it turns out that the mall was also a favourite gathering spot for the scapegoat religious community du jour (Jews, Irish Catholics, Scientologists). So someone gets busy extracting that information from the database, and suddenly just because you were cruising for chicks, you now become a suspected Irish Catholic sympathiser.

    Of course, fast forward a few years and it might not be Irish Catholics who are the focus of our terrorist fears. Maybe you'll be a terror suspect because you were driving through a predominantly Buddhist neighbourhood. Or your car spent too long parked in the vicinity of a Labour Party member's house.

    And God forbid you happen to come back to Australia after performing these unsavoury acts - you've seen what we do to people who give half used prepaid SIM cards to their friends in other countries! Imagine if you went to the UK, and while you stayed there you gave a Irish Catholic a lift because his bomb of a car blew up?

    (in Australian slang, a "bomb" is a car that is barely worth repairing, and a car "blowing up" means that something has broken that requires more than a pair of stockings and fencing wire to repair)

    No, this surveillance system does not seem sensible to me. What happens if we put the "what if you commit a crime later" shoe on the ohter foot? I reach the conclusion that the only reason you'd want to track everyone's movements now is to allow you to generate scapegoats later on! When they came for the Communists, I didn't speak up because I'm not a Communist, yadda yadda ...

    The first question when considering new legislation or "crime fighting tools" is not "how will this make life better when used correctly" but "what impact will this have on our community if abused?"
  • by no-body ( 127863 ) on Monday July 30, 2007 @01:40AM (#20038935)
    Let me see, tracking and (indefinitely) storing the travel patterns of EVERYONE. No that's not objectionable. Not at all...

    True, a future step is to analyze moving patterns with AI, recognize deviations from normal and preemtively bring criminals to justice before they commit crimes.

    Recently, I received a questionaire from the police department to check out citizen's concerns. The language which was used in the questionaire was interesting: Repeated uses of "arresting criminals" - or similar as valuation item: not -> very important. Appeared to me they were suspecting "criminals" undiscriminately behind every bush. Looks to me one needs a certain training and frame of mind to see things in that way.

  • by nbauman ( 624611 ) on Monday July 30, 2007 @03:28AM (#20039539) Homepage Journal
    Suppose I suspect my wife is having an affair, and I sue her for divorce. I can subpoena that license plate database to see where she's been, and who she's been visiting.

    Hey, wait -- she can do the same to me!
  • Re:ACLU Wrong Again (Score:3, Interesting)

    by tm2b ( 42473 ) on Monday July 30, 2007 @03:53AM (#20039633) Journal
    Nice try. You should read your copy of the Constitution more carefully.

    Mine says, "The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved for the States respectively, or to the people." Unfortunately it doesn't tell us how to tell what's reserved for the respective states and what's reserved to the people.

    In other words, the FBI might be limited by your argument (as if! Given the "commerce clause" overreach reading, [] everything that might ever touch economic influence in any way is delegated to the Federal Government - and you had to pay money for that car, bucko), but the state police are not.
  • by Solandri ( 704621 ) on Monday July 30, 2007 @03:53AM (#20039635)

    I won't object to it as long as I can recored the location and activities of the cops, and store that indefinitely
    Most police patrol cars now have dashboard video cameras, which are required to be recording continuously while they're on patrol. When they were first introduced, there was some debate over the usefulness of having everything recorded vs. policemen being able to do their jobs without having everything recorded. But the overall usefulness of the recordings won out over policemen's individual rights (e.g. no better way to convince a jury that a suspect was acting belligerently / policeman was acting reasonably than showing them a video of the incident). The only potential problem for purposes of police misconduct is that the tapes are under the control of the police. But that's the whole 'nother issue of "who polices the police?"

    Of course this resolves down to a case of the public being monitored vs. an agency serving the public being monitored, so they're not directly comparable. But you made the comparison, I didn't. I think a pretty good argument could be made that the police should be monitored in this way while the general public shouldn't.

  • by bocaJWho ( 1080217 ) on Monday July 30, 2007 @04:04AM (#20039679)

    The time to be up in arms is when the systems are abused.

    Quite right - what I'm hoping that the ACLU will establish with this suit is strict procedures of when this information can be used. Searching should be entirely automated against the license plates of fellons and against license plates of stollen cars. Searching would also be valuable at the request of citizens, as it may help them prove an aliby - or just remember one:

    Trailer Park Joe: Shucks officer, I don't remember where I was three weeks ago, why don't you just run my license plate through that database of your.
    Officer: Your car was seen at Billy Bob's Bar at 10:26PM
    Joe: Oh yeah, now that I think about it, I'm there every night - I was just too drunk to remember.

    What the system should not be used for, is so the new police Lt. can check up on where his girlfriend's car was seen last night. If he does, he should be straight out of a job.

    Finally, citizens should be able to request that their data be removed. As beneficial as the data can be to its citizens, the government has no right to keep tabs on them at all time. A provision to allow for the removal of that information insures that this program is in line with similar privacy laws, which allow citizens to have their criminal record as a minor destroyed, or allows them to have the records of a DNA test destroyed imediately after the test has been completed.

    With the above provisions, the program is more mundane than OnStar. Yes, it can get you in some shit if you are doing something wrong, but more likely it will help you out when you're already in a tight situation.
  • by packeteer ( 566398 ) <packeteer@subdim ... m ['sio' in gap]> on Monday July 30, 2007 @05:13AM (#20039971)
    The problem here is that they of course want to go after misdemeanor suspects first. Its the cliche slippery slope argument. The problem is they will lower and lower the bar for what is acceptable. Eventually minor crime will be what they search for.

    The problem i see here is that this is a small attack on our liberty from all sides. Imagine in the future the government makes some really asinine illegal, like burning an American flag. They make it a crime but to appease the people who want it to be legal they make it a tiny tiny offense, a slap on the wrist. What they don't make clear is that anyone who is wanted for this crime is probably going to be arrested on their way to work causing serious hardship.

    Also view this police practice in light of the ridiculous war on drugs we have. Marijuana for person use is not a serious crime but that is where i see this tactic being used in the future. Overzealous cops trying to make a career for themselves with no care for the greater good of society will vigorously pursue average peaceful citizens. Their property will be seized for to pay for the inertia of the police force. Too many people's careers are involved in policing small things for this is lighten up.
  • by fyngyrz ( 762201 ) * on Monday July 30, 2007 @06:03AM (#20040187) Homepage Journal

    Few people are that stupid when their life is at stake.

    People should be allowed to go about their legitimate business without regard to time, place, coat, pants, slanty eyes, skin color, reported need for pharmaceuticals or food. It isn't your place - or the cops - to judge why she needed her meds suddenly; there are all kinds of situations that can come up, ranging from not having the money to stock them up in advance, to prescriptions that force refills to happen at the end of a supply that may be fully depleted, to spilling a bottle down a drain, to your kid getting into the medicine closet and feeding them to your goldfish, and so on, ad infinitum.

    I live in a rural area (Glasgow, Montana) with a diabetic; she uses a med called "Byetta" that has, at most, one extra shot left when the prescription is refillable. More common diabetes drugs don't work for her any longer, though they used to. She really needs this; without it, her blood sugars reach for the 400's, which is just plain no good. The only local source for the med - the only place that has been willing to carry it, since it is moderately expensive, about $225 per monthly refill - is the local Pamida. I convinced them by paying in advance for a years worth of prescriptions. One time, they simply didn't receive it, though they had ordered it. I drove her to Billings, 300 miles from here, to get that med. We bought it at an all-night pharmacy. It wasn't about money. I have lots of money. It wasn't about stupidity. I'm a reasonably smart fellow, and she's smarter than I am. It wasn't about planning. The prescription is specific, and it isn't an option to get extra. We bought it late at night because it's a five hour drive and we learned the Pamida didn't have it after 5 pm, and the fastest I could get to Billings was five hours. Part of the reason for that is mommy speeding laws. There are four very small towns between here and there, and it used to be that the parts of the trip between the towns could be made legally and safely at 95 MPH; I'd have been there with daylight to spare. In a car that is well designed to handle those speeds. This time, I couldn't do that, because some minion of Montana's legislative mommy core might have stopped us and put her at even greater risk. Does that piss me off? Yes, and you have no idea just how much.

    What am I doing about it? I am in the process of getting my pilot's license, and as soon as I have it, I'll buy a plane. That'll put Billings a lot closer in time. Luckily, I'm in a financial position where I can do that simply because I want to, I can dedicate the time required, and I'm capable of learning to fly one. What about people who don't command the inherent and developed resources I do? Should they be subject to opinions like yours? "Attempted suicide"? "Stupid"?

    When police actually protect you from an intentional assault, or stop someone they know to have done same because they have probable cause and a warrant, they're doing the jobs that naturally arise for such a role in any society. When they take on the role of mommy, second guessing safe traffic maneuvers, coercing you to wear seatbelts, concerning themselves with which seat your kid is in, worrying about what you're smoking, wearing, buying, saying or doing with a consenting, informed and competent partner... they're the enemy of the citizens. No less than that.

    Rules? Doesn't matter if they're following the rules or not; There's an underlying social rationale for having police, and being your mommy isn't it. AT&T's's minions were just following the government's instructions when they tapped people's phones without warrants, too. When bad government makes bad rules, following them is no act of public service, and it is not "ok." A good cop is looking for direct threats from one source against another. Watching residences for people breaking windows and doors; looking for accidents; stopping altercations, that sort of thing. Y

  • Re:explain to me (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday July 30, 2007 @06:17AM (#20040259)
    I keep looking for where someone added "editable" to the database desciption as well, haven't see it yet, but if this type of database stays in existence long enough, there will be an example of it, even if only the editor knows about it.

    "Society is produced by our wants, and government by wickedness; the former promotes our happiness positively by uniting our affections, the latter negatively by restraining our vices. The one encourages intercourse, the other creates distinctions. The first is a patron, the last a punisher. Society in every state is a blessing, but government even in its best state is but a necessary evil." --Thomas Paine, Common Sense

    Let's keep the evil to a minimum.
  • by thepainter ( 1134709 ) on Monday July 30, 2007 @06:42AM (#20040377)
    It takes a writ of discovery for a defendant in a criminal matter to get information about his own information in NCIC. It is not subject to any subpoena of a civil court.

    States also make other information gathered for law enforcement purposes immune to civil subpoenas. And information systems related to NCIC (such as that's State's crime information center) is also immune.

    It depends what system they are using and what that State's laws are. If it currently is subject to subpoena, expect that to change in the near future as it becomes more widespread.
  • by Anthony Baby ( 1015379 ) on Monday July 30, 2007 @07:05AM (#20040515) Homepage Journal

    In which case I believe that you are a little bit paranoid. Do you use a credit card? They can trace your movements based on your expenses. Do you own property or pay taxes? Guess how much information those two facts give to the 'system'. Do you have a passport? Gosh, they could use that to track your movements across national boundaries.

    I'm sure the parent understands this who doesn't? Obviously we as citizens reasonably want to limit the government's ability to track us, and no one ought to apologize for that. And obviously we are willing to be trackable where we gain some in return, a creature comfort or government service. It's tug of war game, and every attempt by the government to increase its monitoring ought to be resisted, at least in civil protest if not through litigation. It's not a made-up problem, it's the way we preserve our rights by keeping the line in the sand from being redrawn over and over again until we've lost a right that no real patriot would argue is trivial. However...

    This is a minor issue. The potential abuse is really nothing that will harm individual privacy rights anymore than having publically viewable license plates does. The scanner is merely a mechanism that adds automation to a manual process that has long been performed openly by police all across the country. Whenever a cop responds to a matter any matter, the cop will be sure to perform basic checks for such things as warrants or stolen vehicle reports. The ACLU rep thinks the scanning is a civil rights violation? But why? It wasn't a violation when a cop had to identify a plate with his eye and then manually query it. The only thing that has changed is the efficiency of the process and the effective viewing range of the cop's "eye".

    I didn't find a specific reference to this issue at the Ohio ACLU page referenced at the bottom of the article, so I am thinking ACLU's response was more of an informal show of concern than a formal protest that would be newsworthy. I did find this 2004 article. [] It seems related, and it suggests that the ACLU knew about the scanner's use back in 2004, and then only expressed concern over potential abuses. Again, not really a formal protest. Ergo, acknowledge and move on.

  • by Kymri ( 1093149 ) on Monday July 30, 2007 @08:16AM (#20040927)
    All police use 'profiling'. It's often called 'racial profiling', but except in the most sensational and egregious of cases, that isn't really what it is.

    A white guy and a black guy sitting in a car with Maryland plates on a street in Arlington will often cause a patrolling officer in the area (especially if he's been there for a while) to check things out, and see what's going on. It could be perfectly innocent. It probably is a drug deal.

    Likewise, a group of young black men standing around in a parking lot, basketball court, or even a park is liable to get the police passing by to stop and talk and ask a few questions. It could well be perfectly innocent, but in that area (Arlington) it's quite possibly an open-air drug market of sorts.

    (These are actual examples cited to me by a friend who worked as a police officer in Arlington - and for the record, he's black (the term he prefers to 'African-American'))

    Now, certainly, stopping every person of X ethnic origin because they're that ethnicity is bad and is a waste of energy on the part of the police, and is harassment. On the other hand, if you know that people who are X ethnicity *and* are likely to be violating Y law, then maybe it's 'racial profiling' to stop them on the street and talk to them. More likely it's just good police work and exactly the kind of thing most police do every day.

    (I'm not even going to get into the logic or illogic of using profiling as part of airport security...)
  • by QCompson ( 675963 ) on Monday July 30, 2007 @08:28AM (#20040989)
    There's a reason that many crimes in the US elicit such a harsh punishment, and that everything from bouncing a check to picking your nose in public is now a felony (ignoring the corporate-prison industry and other such arguments for the moment); the long prison sentences and exorbitant fines are thought to be a deterrent to other nare-do-wells who would now think twice before committing the same crime and getting the same sentence.

    But part of the deterrence theory of punishment is premised on the fact that law enforcement can't catch all the criminals. To make up for the fact that there will always be Joe Robber or Tina Car-Thief who gets away with something, the hope is that they will be deterred from breaking the law in fear of receiving the harsh punishment.

    The whole punishment-as-deterrent system will become quite warped however, when cops across the nation can cruise around scanning hundreds of license plates and arrest X number more felons than before. As law enforcement is armed with new technology, do the punishments ever decrease despite law enforcement being more effective in catching the bad guys?

    To take this thought to the extreme: if police suddenly developed new drug-detecting technology that could scan people's surrounding air-mass as they walked out in public and determine with certainty whether they were carrying illegal drugs, should we still retain the harsh sentences that many states do for simple drug possession?

  • by nhstar ( 452291 ) on Monday July 30, 2007 @10:36AM (#20042555)
    I think that the part that the ACLU (and myself for that matter) is objecting to is that there's absolutely no notification of how long the data will be stored and for what purposes used in the future. Sure, if it's nabbing a stolen car now it makes a lot of sense. But if you're driving around in your normal, law abiding ways, by what right or to what purpose should data relating to your movements be stored by the government? Imagine the day that there's a camera in your home's front entry-way that's automatically wired to Police HQ for the "sole purpose of knowing when your house is being broken into," but you're never allowed to shut it off, and there's no way you can now where the data is being used, or for how long that imagery will be stored. Heck, while we're at it, let's start slipping the RFID tags into our right hands, and placing sensors all over so that we will always know if you get kid-napped or hurt! What seems to be your boggle?

    Okay, it seems to be far-stretched... but 50 years ago, would anyone have imagined that everywhere they go in New York City or in London that they're always on camera?

    If this system is grabbing felons and stolen cars, all the power to them! Once they've determinded that they've grabbed someone, and the court process has occurred, dump the data. If Joe Trooper has sat for 5 hours filming car-plates and has found exactly zero offenders, drop the data... there's no need to keep it.
  • by Kamokazi ( 1080091 ) on Monday July 30, 2007 @10:44AM (#20042647)
    That's true, but I would say it would be unlikely for two reasons:

    1) In many states it's illegal for them to pull someone over unless they personally observe reckless/illegal behavior. This includes swerving, speeding, drinking from what looks like an alcohol container, etc.

    2) The practicality of informing a police officer nearby that there is a person with prior offenses is not very viable. If they did anything like this, it would probably be for very recent offenders only, or multiple offenses, someone likely to have contraband on them. In Ohio it's already mandated that convicted DUI offenders must have a yellow license plate. They have considered other ones for pedophiles, etc. So this method would probably be prefferable, as it would not make it public that you had prior offenses.

    Yes, there are some cons, but I think the benefits greatly outweigh those cons. There rarely a perfect solution for a problem, there are almost always a few negatives.
  • Good? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Gription ( 1006467 ) on Monday July 30, 2007 @11:05AM (#20042901)
    Uhhh, no.

    If you had any idea of how many laws are on the books you would realize it isn't possible to do ANYTHING without breaking some law. Also you KNOW that you have cut little corners each day and probably more serious corners when you were younger. Maybe you step out of the marked crosswalk before reaching the curb. (jaywalking $75) Possibly you dropped your receipt when you were trying to put it in your pocket. (littering $1000) Did you ever do something like egging a car when you were a kid? (we used snowballs)

    Technology exists and is coming that will let every waking moment be scrutinized in a fashion that the laws never intended. (facial recognition, object recognition, biometric identification...) If you don't think the government will try to do it you haven't been paying attention. Automated enforcement isn't about safety. It is about generating revenue.

    The big example: "But what about speed cameras?" you say. You have been brainwashed. Everyone runs around saying that going faster is dangerous. Do you have any proof. "Speed Kills", but at what speed do I suddenly die? In the 80's the NHTSA commissioned a study to show how many lives 10 years of the 55mph limit had saved. The release of the report was delayed 18 months.

    Because they kept getting the 'wrong' results. After playing with the numbers for an additional 18 months the best they could spin the numbers were that if they completely ignored better safety technology, better tires, etc... and assumed that ALL reductions in fatalities were only because of reduced speed the grand total was:
    For every 150 man/years of time lost on the freeways they could come up with 1 life saved.
    Now we all know that improved tires and improved car safety had to improve things more then that paltry sum so why didn't we get a better result? Because we had bred a generation of drivers that were so untalented (brain dead) that they were unsafe at 55. If you raised the tire pressure of all the tires on the road by less then 2 psi you would come up with a larger savings of lives!

    So when you actually analyze the data in the report you find that the safest speed to drive on the freeway is 10 to 15 mph faster then the general flow of traffic. This won't improve revenue generation so they aren't going to advertise this. If they really wanted to improve safety they would become hardcore about little right-of-way violations or lack of attention, but they are too hard to enforce. Remember... Your government thinks you are their source of income. You are giving Them money instead of Them spending Your money. If as a group we don't stop them we will be living in a fascist state beyond anything that Orwell could have imagined.
    Why? Because it will be economically possible for your government to do it.

    Oh, and you still won't be safe. Safe is an illusion. Grow up. You are mortal and you are going to die. (God didn't screw up there.) Get over it. A 'safe' life isn't worth living. A lot of the experiences that people treasure over their lives are special BECAUSE they weren't 'safe'.
  • Re:If you RTFA (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Maxo-Texas ( 864189 ) on Monday July 30, 2007 @11:43AM (#20043407)
    I see the issue is the efficiency of it.

    Because even now a policeman might remember seeing a red dodge charger in a driveway last week that was a associated with a crime today.

    The end result tho is them tracking us 24/7- no privacy.

    And in all likelyhood policemen and government officials will have something in the law so their own tags are immunized from this process. Just like it turns out all of our local government officials do not pay tolls in their private vehicles recently.
  • by hackstraw ( 262471 ) on Monday July 30, 2007 @11:49AM (#20043471)
    Imagine a world where jaywalking gets you automatically direct-withdrawal fines from your bank account? And how about when your credit score goes down because you took a right-on-red where you weren't supposed to, therefore marking you as "risky?"

    Imagine you live in Virginia in 2007.

    In Virginia, you now get civil _AND_ criminal charges against you for running a red light or speeding. The civil stuff comes in fines starting around $1,000 payable in 3 payments which are independant of the criminal charges. If you don't have the cash handy, then you are sent to collections, your credit gets screwed, and I would imagine that they then do the same tricks they have for years like not telling you that your registration is expired on your car, so it lapses and then you are subject to having your car impounded on the spot w/o a court appearance or legal represntation whatsoever.


    To be clear, I don't want to drive. Its dangerous both physically and legally. I'm a pretty boring guy, but driving on the US highways is a very risky behavior.

    Another true story. I drove a "stolen" car for somewhere between 1 and 2 years without knowing it. When I was in highschool, I did a stupid highschool thing and took off for a weekend. My dumbass father reported my car (registered in his name) as stolen, and never reported it as unstolen. I went to renew my plates or something at DMV, and they told me that they couldn't because my car was reported stolen.

    Now, imagine if this scanning thing was in place, and I got pulled over? I would guess that a number of "stolen" vehicles are driven by their owners.

    Now, with the people with warrants. I mean, how tough is it to find these people just by looking? Don't you have to show 10 forms of ID to do anything? Also, most stolen cars are not driven as is outside of joy rides.

    As a citizen, I don't feel more comfortable or safe having the police scan license plates. I feel less safe and comfortable.

  • by Ungrounded Lightning ( 62228 ) on Monday July 30, 2007 @04:40PM (#20048043) Journal
    2) Does the person have an expectation of privacy? For instance, a closed telephone booth is in a public place, but grants a person an expectation of privacy and law enforcement thus needs a warrant to record a conversation therein.

    The expectation of privacy is why it's illegal in Michigan (not sure if it's local or national) to use directional microphones to pick up conversations, even in public places, when there is no obvious listener within normal hearing range.

    DO ordinary citizens have an expectation that the whereabouts of their car is private when there is no cop watching? Do they have an expectation that, even if a cop IS watching, after a month or so he won't remember every license plate that went by without something special to make it "stick in his mind" or end up on a report (like a car involved in an infraction or a plate on a "be on the lookout" list)?

    If they do, the case could go for the ACLU on the same grounds. Maybe so far that the recording of the data would be prohibited without a warrant or a B.O.L.

"You must have an IQ of at least half a million." -- Popeye