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Minneapolis Police Catalog License Plates and Location Data 289

tripleevenfall writes "The Minneapolis Star-Tribune reports that Minneapolis police used automated scanning technology to log location data for over 800,000 license plates in June alone, with 4.9 million scans having taken place this year. The data includes the date, time, and location where the plate was seen. Worse, it appears this data is compiled and stored for up to a year and is disclosed to anyone who asks for it."
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Minneapolis Police Catalog License Plates and Location Data

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  • Slashdot hypocrisy (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 10, 2012 @08:58PM (#40953611)

    So, when people get stopped by the police for taking pictures in public, everyone rages against the police. When the police take pictures in public, everyone rages against the police.

    YOU CAN'T HAVE IT BOTH WAYS. Either it's okay to take these pictures and do what you like with them, or it's not. Stop looking at everything the police do as bad and evil and inherently abusive, and treat all instances of an issue the same.

  • Re:Lawsuit (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday August 10, 2012 @09:08PM (#40953669)

    Oh, perhaps they'll throw us a bone by making it harder (although not impossible) to obtain their stored data

    We need to go the other way. If the police gather public data, then it needs to be made totally public, searchable by anyone. That way, (a) everyone's aware of exactly what data is being collected, and (b) everyone is equally subject to surveillance, whether they're police, politicians, etc.

  • Re:Lawsuit (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Dr Damage I ( 692789 ) on Friday August 10, 2012 @09:16PM (#40953713) Journal

    IMO, judges see themselves as being protectors of the innocent and punishers of the wicked. This is why the gun rights crowd got hammered in United States v. Miller []; gangsters trying to get away with their crimes by appealing to the supreme court aren't exactly sympathetic defendants. By contrast, the Heller [] and McDonald [] decisions involved defendants carefully chosen as upstanding and law abiding citizens cruelly oppressed by government overstepping its bounds. Or to put it another way, Jack Miller was seen by the judges as an evildoer in need of their punishment whereas Dick Anthony Heller and Otis McDonald were seen by the judges as upstanding citizens in need of their protection.

    In most cases and in the absence of binding precedent, IMO, judges all the way up to supreme court level will attempt to craft their decision in such a way as to produce an outcome that punishes the wicked and/or protects the innocent.

    Which means the trick to getting a favorable outcome is carefully selecting who challenges the law. Let a slimebag criminal challenge the law first and we're all gonna get screwed in the rush to punish the wicked. Find someone cruelly oppressed by government drunk on its own power, on the other hand, and we've got a much better chance of a favorable outcome.

  • by SydShamino ( 547793 ) on Friday August 10, 2012 @09:17PM (#40953721)

    Sure you can. The police are public officers working a job for which they are empowered with the ability to detain and arrest. The public are exercising their rights to move freely and with relative anonymity through their own state.

    These are drastically different scenarios and it's perfectly reasonable to allow constant surveillance of one (where the people have been entrusted with abusable rights) and not the other.

  • Re:Lawsuit (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Darkness404 ( 1287218 ) on Friday August 10, 2012 @09:19PM (#40953737)
    Except for the fact that the masses aren't sick of this crap though. And they system makes it impossible for any third-party candidate to win.

    Ask the average Joe why they are voting for Romney/Obama chances are it is because Obama is worse than Romney or vice versa. No one really -likes- Obama, no one really -likes- Romney. About the only politicians that people actually like are the "long shot" candidates like Ron Paul, Gary Johnson and Jill Stein. Naturally, they have no shot in winning because A) The US election system is based on having a medium sized state government and a tiny federal government, a far cry from the large state governments and colossal federal government we have today B) The American people simply don't care about any real changes they just care about ZOMG ROMNEY DOESN'T SUPPORT GAY MARRAGE! MUST VOTE OBAMA!!!! And ZOMG OBAMA SUPPORTS ABORTION MUST VOTE ROMNEY!!! Rather than any intelligent debate on the real issues.
  • Much better plan (Score:5, Interesting)

    by SuperKendall ( 25149 ) on Friday August 10, 2012 @09:45PM (#40953907)

    1) Put up your own license scanner for the same roads the official ones are on.

    2) Gather data for a year.

    3) Download the official list, and see who they deleted...

    NOW you have something juicy.

  • Re:Lawsuit (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Darkness404 ( 1287218 ) on Friday August 10, 2012 @09:56PM (#40953979)
    The system is based on an ideal America which was shattered following the civil war. The idea is that most laws affecting you and me would be passed in local and state elections where there is more impact and more ability for the common man to influence change, along with more ability to vote with your feet. The federal government would be in charge of doing "big picture things" such as tariff rates, wars and foreign affairs. Their impact on the individual would be normally very low. There was competition built in, the states would choose the senate and the masses the house, meaning that laws that threatened state sovereignty would more than likely be blocked by the senate. When it came to the laws people wanted, it could easily be decided by a state by state basis where one industry or product dominated their economy. Also, political parties were minor.

    Today we don't have that, senators are directly elected by the masses, the federal government affects people a lot more than the state government does, no state has a single industry anymore, sure, there are a lot of farms in Kansas but there are also huge technology firms (Garmin and Sprint for example).

    There are several improvements that the US could do, such as proportional representation by party (like what much of Europe does) to let everyone's voice be heard, especially since a lot of ideas aren't geographically based. And while I'm not sure what the political benefits would be, I would like to see something like Prime Minister's questions done with the US.
  • Re:Lawsuit (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Firethorn ( 177587 ) on Saturday August 11, 2012 @05:42AM (#40955647) Homepage Journal

    I'd argue that there are plenty of voters who actually like their candidates, but the 'no one really' comment is merely an exaggeration - Obama, Bush, and Clinton weren't elected because 51% of the population thought he was the best candidate. Realistically, a statistically insignificant number of people is going to believe that their candidate is the 'most optimal choice', but a lot of people are voting for somebody they agree with barely half the time because they perceive the other guy as being even worse.

    So when somebody goes to the polls and pulls the lever for Romney when they'd really prefer Ron Paul, they're voting for the 'least worst' candidate they think has a chance.

    As a 'moderate libertarian', I'm the type where in preference polls I tend to hit about 40% for both candidates... Huh, this is new, in the 'selectsmart' [] test I scored 52% for Obama, 39% for Romney. I'll note that in previous tests I normally agreed with Ron Paul(48%) the most. Eh, I had been leaning Obama recently anyways, in the sense that I've seen nothing that suggests Romney would 'do better'.

    2nd Opinion: [] 75% Ron Paul, 60% Obama, 51% Romney.

    Given those results, I'd say that a candidate I could vote for without 'holding my nose' would have to at least be in the 70-80% range, average. I say this because Ron Paul is still hold the nose at 62%. Obama(57) clearly leads Romney(45), but not overwhelmingly.

Make it myself? But I'm a physical organic chemist!