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L.A. Police: All Cars In L.A. Are Under Investigation 405

An anonymous reader writes with a link to an article by the EFF's Jennifer Lynch, carried by Gizmodo, which reports that the L.A. Police Department and L.A. Sheriff's Department "took a novel approach in the briefs they filed in EFF and the ACLU of Southern California's California Public Records Act lawsuit seeking a week's worth of Automatic License Plate Reader (ALPR) data. They have argued that 'All [license plate] data is investigatory.' The fact that it may never be associated with a specific crime doesn't matter. This argument is completely counter to our criminal justice system, in which we assume law enforcement will not conduct an investigation unless there are some indicia of criminal activity. In fact, the Fourth Amendment was added to the U.S. Constitution exactly to prevent law enforcement from conducting mass, suspicionless investigations under "general warrants" that targeted no specific person or place and never expired.

ALPR systems operate in just this way. The cameras are not triggered by any suspicion of criminal wrongdoing; instead, they automatically and indiscriminately photograph all license plates (and cars) that come into view. ... Taken to an extreme, the agencies' arguments would allow law enforcement to conduct around-the-clock surveillance on every aspect of our lives and store those records indefinitely on the off-chance they may aid in solving a crime at some previously undetermined date in the future. If the court accepts their arguments, the agencies would then be able to hide all this data from the public."
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L.A. Police: All Cars In L.A. Are Under Investigation

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  • by HangingChad ( 677530 ) on Sunday March 23, 2014 @06:46PM (#46559727) Homepage

    I'm going to take a wild guess that claim is going to get bounced out of court. Sounds more like a stalling tactic than a real defense. Unless the L.A. PD is going to try and make the case that everyone in L.A. is suspicious, in which case they might have a point.

  • tree of liberty (Score:5, Insightful)

    by callmetheraven ( 711291 ) on Sunday March 23, 2014 @06:50PM (#46559747)
    is dying of thirst
  • by gestalt_n_pepper ( 991155 ) on Sunday March 23, 2014 @07:02PM (#46559849)

    That's the new reality. The laws just haven't been changed yet. Yet. And yes, the terrorists have won, by making the government and law enforcement do the terrorism for them.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday March 23, 2014 @07:02PM (#46559851)

    Really? You think it'll get thrown out of court? Because it seems more likely that it'll set a new precedent as being A-OK.

    Laws are for the commoners, not the elite. You should know that by now.

  • by Holi ( 250190 ) on Sunday March 23, 2014 @07:08PM (#46559891)

    Thats a lie that has been repeated so often that you have started to believe it. In a civil society privacy is expected even when we are walking down the street. How you say? Because in a civil society we respect each other and respect each others privacy.

  • by Holi ( 250190 ) on Sunday March 23, 2014 @07:09PM (#46559911)

    >When operating a motor vehicle on a public roadway, there is no expectation of privacy attached to your license plate number, or your location. A police officer can >follow you around all day without a warrant, and run as many checks on your plate number as he desires, and make a note of everywhere you go.

    Actually no this would be called harassment and is illegal.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday March 23, 2014 @07:10PM (#46559919)

    I've ridden with the LAPD - have you? Most are extremely competent and driven to do the right thing. I see 3 things that drag them down:
    1. Massive amounts of crime - both in quantity and quality. They do what they can. IMHO they need to quadruple the number of parole and investigation officers.
    2. The organization is too big. That invites middle management with skewed goals and climbing the corporate ladder just like every other psychotic corporation.
    3. Misinfotainment reporting varies from half truths to outright lies. Gotta keep those eyes glued to the TV so that more expensive commercials can be aired.

  • by Herkum01 ( 592704 ) on Sunday March 23, 2014 @07:12PM (#46559927)

    The law also does not provide that the police officers can stalk you 24/7 without some sort of warrant.

    The laws were originally written when there was no "Orwellian" state where you could anonymously watched/recorded in public everywhere. Lets no pretend incidentally stumbling onto a suspicious conversation is the same as monitoring EVERY conversation.

  • by AutodidactLabrat ( 3506801 ) on Sunday March 23, 2014 @07:16PM (#46559965)
    Yeah, Rodney King was SUCH a threat to 4 heavily armed policemen that they HAD to get 28 of their friends to watch and then perjure their action reports.
  • by lonOtter ( 3587393 ) on Sunday March 23, 2014 @07:16PM (#46559967) Homepage

    There is no expectation of privacy when you are out in public

    Stop repeating this nonsense; there is some degree of privacy even in public. The kind of privacy that's being discussed is privacy from being spied on by ubiquitous government surveillance devices that are installed in public places.

    nor in anything that can be investigated with plain human senses (plain view, plain smell, etc).

    The idea that hearing a conversation (or something similar) is the same as sticking surveillance devices everywhere in public places is simply absurd. I don't know why so many people are so stupid as to not be able to see that using humans to conduct surveillance on other humans would require massive manpower that machines don't require, or that this gives them a convenient and cost-effective way to collect all this data in a central location. The differences are absolutely huge; quit being an idiot.

    You guys need to get over yourselves.

    You need to get over yourself; your mentality literally ruins countries.

    Your arguments have been debunked time and time again. I think you people are just willfully ignorant, or hate freedom and privacy.

  • by Jeremiah Cornelius ( 137 ) on Sunday March 23, 2014 @07:18PM (#46559983) Homepage Journal

    And read the article summary at the top of the page, again. It is a textbook case-study defining the term "Police State".

    A police state is not one, contrary to cold-war era thrillers, where armed men patrol every street corner, asking for "papers".

    A police state is the one, where, subject to arbitrary criminal suspicion by default, individualsnhave de facto rights that are inferior to the rights for police to act, at every level from municipal to federal.

    Enjoy your police state, America.

  • it's official (Score:0, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday March 23, 2014 @07:21PM (#46559999)

    You are a criminal and we live in a police state.

    The 2nd amendment has never been more relevant.

  • by reboot246 ( 623534 ) on Sunday March 23, 2014 @07:34PM (#46560089) Homepage
    And we still have people denying we're living in a police state! This is what it looks like and we're there. Now the question becomes, how do we get rid of it without the loss of millions of lives?
  • by Intron ( 870560 ) on Sunday March 23, 2014 @07:47PM (#46560149)

    The 4th Amendment's warrant requirement only applies when there is an expectation of privacy. There is no expectation of privacy when you are out in public, nor in anything that can be investigated with plain human senses (plain view, plain smell, etc).

    When operating a motor vehicle on a public roadway, there is no expectation of privacy attached to your license plate number, or your location. A police officer can follow you around all day without a warrant, and run as many checks on your plate number as he desires, and make a note of everywhere you go.

    An officer does not need a warrant to listen to a conversation you have with someone at a park, nor does he need a warrant to take a sniff of whatever it is you're smoking outside your office.

    You guys need to get over yourselves.

    In that case, taking a video of a police officer in a public place should not be a problem.

  • by Pikoro ( 844299 ) <init AT init DOT sh> on Sunday March 23, 2014 @07:56PM (#46560211) Homepage Journal

    This is what I was thinking. Have the cameras doing the scanning, no problem. The camera scans a plate, then does a search for specific violations such as: Is the vehicle reported stolen, Has the vehicle been flagged as having received more than N parking or traffic violations, etc. Only a few select items to scan for. If it's a positive match, flag it and track it and notify an officer. If it's not, immedielty purge the record and move on to the next one.

    To me, that does not sound wholy unreasonable.

  • by mbone ( 558574 ) on Sunday March 23, 2014 @07:58PM (#46560215)

    Sorry, but this is BS. I have such an expectation of privacy. That you would deny it to me means that this is a political, not a legal, matter, and merely stating that an officer does not need a warrant does not cut it in political discourse. I would also note that there is nothing, not one syllable, in the 4th Amendment about expectations of privacy in limiting the search of your "effects" (i.e., your personal property, such as, e.g., your car). All of this is a later invention by the courts; being invented, it can be changed as conditions change, and they have indeed changed.

    In the internet jargon, surveillance in a free society does not scale. It is one thing if a policeman walks down my street and happens to smell or see something. It is quite another if, say, I woke up to find that there are 20 policemen stationed just outside my curtilage, each trying to peer in my windows with binoculars, and they stayed in position all day, every day. To be blunt, one is reasonable, the other, tyranny. SImilarly, if every time I drove away from my house I was followed by a convoy of police cars tracking my every move, I would conclude that I was the victim of official harassment (or worse), and react accordingly (say, by going to a Judge and / or the newspapers with my complaints).

    Now that is possible to obtain this level of surveillance without actually delegating 20 policemen to peer through my windows, or to follow me about, and without it being obvious to the victim, the legal system will simply have to expand the legal expectations of privacy, or we will find ourselves living in a Stasi-like tyranny.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday March 23, 2014 @07:58PM (#46560225)

    You can't take back what you want without giving up everything you have now.

    Let's say that, hypothetically, you were to start a small revolution.

    To begin with, what would happen is you would be criminalised, and called terrorists. Your friends and family would be turned against you (if it was known who you were). Should you go anonymously, they would be turned against the idea. Either way, the propaganda machine would go into overdrive, showing you to be evil commie terrorists, and people would accept what the state told them about your rebel group.

    It would be a bitch trying to gather any public support, with the state constantly whispering in everyone's ear that you were the bad and nasty people, trying to get rid of their democratic rights.

    So, you would need to be striking publicly, and often.

    What would happen then? Well, you'd get caught. You're in a surveillance state. Cameras everywhere. Cops, military everywhere. Drones everywhere.

    Loyal members of the public everywhere.

    I have no idea how you could possibly win. You've been so blindly led to believe that you have your true freedom that you have allowed them to take it piece by piece in a bloodless coup. You gave up all that your great-great-great-great grandfathers died for, all in the hope of being the next famous rich bitch.

  • by lonOtter ( 3587393 ) on Sunday March 23, 2014 @08:00PM (#46560247) Homepage

    I love privacy and freedom, but not privacy to conceal criminal acts, and freedom to commit them.

    If you want police to have the ability to infringe upon people's privacy and freedom to get at the 'bad guys,' then you don't actually love freedom or privacy.

    The bottom line is that police are allowed to engage in general surveillance (it's called "patrolling") for the purpose of controlling crime.

    Which has nothing to do with ubiquitous and automatic surveillance of public places. Stop trying to equate the two things.

    Your expectation of privacy ends at the border of the public space.

    Stop putting forth this nonsensical and incorrect (There is some degree of privacy even in public places.) argument as if it's a justification for automatic and ubiquitous surveillance. I do *not* believe for one millisecond that the government should have to the power to install surveillance devices everywhere in public places just to stop the big, bad bogeymen you're so scared of.

    Having an expectation of privacy in the public space is antithetical to freedom, and is antithetical to a civilized society

    It's antithetical to neither, and opposing ubiquitous surveillance of public places is certain not antithetical to either. Again, you fail at understanding the real issue.

    I've never seen a bigger bunch of vocal kooks who don't want their rights protected, which is exactly what defines you and your ilk. You are the ones who hate freedom and individual liberty, because you want to make it impossible for those rights to be protected.

    The government is supposed to be 'good'; it's supposed to respect people's rights. If we surrender our rights for 'safety' (Which likely doesn't even exist.), then we have tyranny. The government should be *better* than mere criminals. When it comes to these rights, you should be afraid of the government, not random bogeymen that the government claims it will protect you from.

    I oppose this precisely because I want my rights and privacy protected. In a free society, individual liberties and privacy are considered more important than safety. That is why the TSA and NSA surveillance are evil, and would be evil *even if* they were effective.

    If you're going to try to equate patrolling to ubiquitous surveillance again, don't even bother with a reply.

  • by ebno-10db ( 1459097 ) on Sunday March 23, 2014 @08:00PM (#46560253)

    And if it were actually used for this purpose you could simply download a list of plates whose registrations have expired or been revoked into each scanner, and have the scanner report it when it saw one of those plates. In other words the LAPD's monitoring goes way beyond what is necessary to enforce the law, which is (or used to be) strongly frowned on by the courts.

  • by resfilter ( 960880 ) on Sunday March 23, 2014 @08:05PM (#46560277)

    i'm getting tired of this, is anyone else?

    they want not just license plate cameras, but to track all of your movements. disable your vehicle if they want. UAVs with cameras now and guns later. wiretapping everything. they want complete tracking of what we buy, who we know, where we go, who we fuck, our entire genome.

    all this personal private data in the grimy hands of people that we don't know, and dont trust, collected with our supposed consent because a few people signed a 'protect us from everything at whatever cost' bills after some terrorist fear mongering.

    'public view is up for grabs' is a terrifying concept. there's a big difference between someone taking a picture of you on the street, and a cop taking pictures of everyone on the street all the time, so it can be harvested electrically for suspicious activities.

    i won't live in a police state, and i wont move either.

    we are the nerds. we are the ones that made this shit up! they're misusing our technology here

    that also means we are the ones with the capability to destroy these electronic monitoring devices in the least damaging way possible

    we also seem to form one of the communities with a very high percentage of people that have a gut feeling that this kind of thing is terribly wrong, and that realise how much it's going to get worse.

    we dont need activists or guerilla armies to get ourselves out of this mess, the future is now. we need nerds to fight, not guns.

    at what point do we save the power hungry morons and the whining fearful masses that keep signing off on all this stuff from screwing ordinary innocent people over?

    at what point will it be necessary to destroy these implements of monitoring with technological means?

    i hope this gets me on a terrorism list. this kind of stuff comes to my neck of the woods, i'm going to try my best to fuck it up.

  • Re:Public View (Score:5, Insightful)

    by vux984 ( 928602 ) on Sunday March 23, 2014 @08:16PM (#46560341)

    I agree. Anything in public view is fair game for recording

    Yet another who fails to see any difference between incidental recordings of something in public view and massive systemic recording of everything.

    There is a difference.

    As a society we've consented to the idea that anything we say or do in public may be seen or heard by someone else. We also accept that it might incidentally be captured on film.

    But we DID NOT ever accept the the idea that we accept systematic surveillance of everything we say or do in public.

    We accept that the person at the next table at the restaurant, or the service staff might overhear a part of our conversation. We accept that the family taking birthday photos two tables over might catch us in the background.We do not accept that the police can install mic's and camera's at every table in every restaurant, record everything, and store it forever.

    They are NOT the same damned thing at all.

    I'm mystified why people like you wish to argue that they are the same, or that acceptance of the former means we automatically accept the latter.

    I don't. Most of society agrees with me. We can see there is a difference, and we can draw a line between incidental recordings, and surveillance. What exactly do you find so difficult to understand about it?

    The law should reflect the society we want to live in; its that simple. People like you seem to wish to want to trap society into the unintended consequences of the laws we have. But that's not how its supposed to work.

  • by lonOtter ( 3587393 ) on Sunday March 23, 2014 @09:52PM (#46560803) Homepage

    you are implicitly agreeing to be subject to all of the regulations of the state.

    That might be how the law views things, but in reality, going about your business doesn't mean you implicitly agree to anything. Tyrannical governments love this sort of 'logic', though. It's like saying that you implicitly agree to have government thugs molest you at airports merely because you try to get on a plane; I believe that's been argued, but it's bullshit nonetheless.

    Absolutely, because anyone can do that and in that respect you have no expectation of privacy.

    The whole concept of "expectation of privacy" is garbage, because if the government violates people's privacy enough, any expectations of privacy will no longer be "reasonable." Rather, the question should be, "Should people have privacy in this instance?" The question of whether an individual can observe others in a public place is *completely different* from the question of whether the government should have the power to install surveillance devices everywhere in public places; they shouldn't have such a power.

    This forum is a voice for lots of people who speak very loudly about something they claim to care about (constitutional rights) but know practically nothing about it.

    It's also apparently a place for cretins to speak of laws in place of morality or ethics, and pretend that everyone else is talking about laws, even when some are talking about morality.

  • by camperdave ( 969942 ) on Sunday March 23, 2014 @10:21PM (#46560957) Journal

    Yesssirreee, that's the USA that we've gotten, the United -freaking- SOVIET of America.

    You really have no idea what that word means, do you?

  • by Taco Cowboy ( 5327 ) on Sunday March 23, 2014 @11:59PM (#46561313) Journal

    Which word ? "Soviet" ?

    In my youth we learned Russian in schools, and if I do not know what that word means, I might as well be blind.

    The current situation in America is such that the councils are filled with people such as Feinstein / Obama who want to change the United States into a Police State.

    And we have nothing else to fall back on...

    Used to be that the congress / the court system and the White House are the three prongs of our government, and each of one is used to check the other two.

    No more.

    Nowadays the courts are being populated by judges who think we ought to give up our liberty in exchange for "security".

    Congress ? That place is filled with dead woods who do nothing but looking for ways to create even more pork barrel projects.

    White House ? You kiddin' ???

  • by El Puerco Loco ( 31491 ) on Monday March 24, 2014 @03:12AM (#46561865)

    "constitutional rights" weren't even a thing in this country until the 60s and 70s. The bill of rights was basically a dead letter from the day it was ratified until the civil rights era.

  • It's okay, it's a dumb name and there's no particular reason why anyone should know it. People act like if you don't know what this lawn is called, that you can't possibly know shit about politics. Welcome to slashdot.

  • by Dragonslicer ( 991472 ) on Monday March 24, 2014 @08:32AM (#46562577)
    It isn't a "dumb name", it's what the word "mall" means. It's only recently that "mall" is assumed to mean "shopping mall".
  • by hebertrich ( 472331 ) on Monday March 24, 2014 @08:45AM (#46562657)

    Nothing but sit back and relax im in Canada , have no fear if you got nothing to hide.
    As long as Americans are comfy in their little houses living their little meaningless pointless lives nothing will change.
    Comfort is what keeps the Americans totally immobile while their government fu**s them all. Nothing will change.
    Americans will never do anything to save themselves as long as their pillows are comfy.In fact it's going to get worse before
    anyone even starts to lift a finger. Way worse , by then , it will be too late for them.

  • by NoImNotNineVolt ( 832851 ) on Monday March 24, 2014 @09:54AM (#46563223) Homepage
    It would be refreshing to see this argument made in open court.

    Your honor, of course all cars are under investigation. Haven't you read Harvey Silverglate's "Three Felonies a Day"? We can, with reasonable accuracy, suspect that any individual is a criminal!
  • by Bacon Bits ( 926911 ) on Monday March 24, 2014 @10:31AM (#46563481)

    Personally, I like to point out that the government as tried -- repeatedly -- to count the number of federal laws that exist. It has never succeeded [].

    One begins to question why ignorance of the law isn't a legitimate defense when the laws cannot even be enumerated.

  • Wow, you really believe that? Turn off Rush and flip over to NPR for one week. I doubt your mind will open much, but flip on newshour instead of fox and you might makes some progress. There are still some places with journalistic integrity, maybe the BBC.

    If you follow a rigorous year long program, where you stop listening to lunatics, you might just climb up that intelligence scale. It must be hard to spend you life at functional moron. I hope we can help you.
  • by Archangel Michael ( 180766 ) on Monday March 24, 2014 @12:32PM (#46564713) Journal

    The solution to this is to stop believing in all powerful government is capable of giving you everything you need. While it might be possible to give you everything you need, the cost is everything you have, for any government that can give you everything you need, can take everything you have. To some people, this is acceptable compromise. To me it isn't.

    Decentralized governance is the ONLY real solution to the tyranny that is inevitable otherwise. The problem with Decentralization is that progressive politics doesn't fair well on a micro scale, and leads to tyranny on the macro scale. Of course the Progressives will come out with name calling "hate" speech to shut people up. I don't fear them ... yet.

Civilization, as we know it, will end sometime this evening. See SYSNOTE tomorrow for more information.