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Police Departments Using Car Tracking Database Sworn To Secrecy 202

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 sandbagger ( 654585 ) on Tuesday May 06, 2014 @01:03PM (#46930391)

    I'm sure Vigilant Solutions will be happy to talk to you.

  • by PeeAitchPee ( 712652 ) on Tuesday May 06, 2014 @01:14PM (#46930549)
    Reading comprehension not so good, eh? He left the gun in FL at home, locked up . . . MD cops stopped him, somehow knew of his FL permit (there is absolutely no legal way they could have, of course), and ordered him to give them them the gun. When he wouldn't (couldn't) comply, they proceeded to tear the car's contents apart on the side of the highway and terrorize his family. So just maybe, it's the "batshit-crazy" behavior of jack-booted fascist states like Maryland that is the problem here.
  • by plover ( 150551 ) on Tuesday May 06, 2014 @01:14PM (#46930567) Homepage Journal

    There's a significant difference between "notify" and "track". The primary purpose of these systems is to identify every license plate, look up any violations, and alert the officer. You won't be flagged in the database if you aren't already in trouble for something else.

    Regarding tracking, that's a different problem. Our state has a law that prohibits the police from retaining the data for more than two days. They are not permitted to build up a database of my comings and goings. Two days gives them enough leeway to search for "hot" problems, such as an amber alert, or fleeing felon.

    It may not be a technically perfect solution to privacy, and could be subject to abuse, but I think it's a workable compromise.

  • by Mister Transistor ( 259842 ) on Tuesday May 06, 2014 @02:51PM (#46931993) Journal

    You are correct. Even the Police aren't allowed to use cellular transmitters or jammers by law, they are not licensed to legally transmit on those frequencies, and they are not legally allowed to intercept telephone conversations without a warrant. Not even for "the children".

    Only the DOD (military) in the US can legally use such technology, but that isn't stopping the cops from doing whatever they want, including violating the US criminal code and defying the FCC. So naturally, they want to keep it on the down-low...

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