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Judge Allows L.A. Cops To Keep License Plate Reader Data Secret 108

An anonymous reader writes: A Los Angeles Superior Court judge has ruled that the Los Angeles Police Department is not required to hand over a week's worth of license plate reader data to the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF). He cited the potential of compromising criminal investigations and giving (un-charged) criminals the ability to determine whether or not they were being targeted by law enforcement (PDF). The ACLU and the EFF sought the data under the California Public Records Act, but the judge invoked Section 6254(f), "which protects investigatory files." ACLU attorney Peter Bibring notes, "New surveillance techniques may function better if people don't know about them, but that kind of secrecy is inconsistent with democratic policing."
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Judge Allows L.A. Cops To Keep License Plate Reader Data Secret

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  • Good (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Enry ( 630 ) <.ten.agyaw. .ta. .yrne.> on Saturday August 30, 2014 @10:50AM (#47790803) Journal

    Information about the collection techniques (what gets captured, how long are they held, when and how are they destroyed, etc.) is fine. The actual videos themselves may contain enough information to track vehicles over a period of time. We don't really like it when cops do it, why should we let everyone else have this data?

    I don't necessarily like knowing cops have this information but so long as there's rules over the collection (see above) I'm okay with this. If the EFF and ACLU (whom I normally support) wants the actual data, they can get their own OCR license plate cameras and drive around.

  • Re:Good (Score:5, Insightful)

    by LifesABeach ( 234436 ) on Saturday August 30, 2014 @11:00AM (#47790835) Homepage
    A classic case of, "we know better than you?" Now by LAPD. The only thing that was omitted was, "it's for the children."
  • by attemptedgoalie ( 634133 ) on Saturday August 30, 2014 @11:13AM (#47790883)

    Is that police department going to find a new revenue source by selling license plate and location data to somebody else who will correlate and sell location likelihood information to businesses/marketing companies?

    Is that police department allowed to tag me in their system even though I wasn't under investigation, but passed their camera? Then, do they get to keep that info forever? What happens if I'm accidentally put on the no-fly list, I mean watch list, I mean...

    These guys can't be trusted to type my license plate correctly, now they get permanent location, tracking and correlation? No.

    I'm no Luddite, but this stuff and its related capabilities makes me want to go live in the woods. I'm sick of this.

  • Re:Good (Score:4, Insightful)

    by NoNonAlphaCharsHere ( 2201864 ) on Saturday August 30, 2014 @11:58AM (#47791005)
    In the first place, I think "The LAPD notionally works for the people" is closer to the truth. Judged by their behavior over the last 50 years, they should be classified as a 'street gang'.

    Secondly, if the public doesn't have access to the data they're collecting, then we don't know what they're collecting. It sounds like a tautology, but the difference is very real. All we have is their word on what data they are and are not collecting, or when that changes (increases). Without access to that data, we are forced to take them at their word. Which is probably OK, because we all know that "cops never, ever, ever lie".
  • Re:Good (Score:5, Insightful)

    by spire3661 ( 1038968 ) on Saturday August 30, 2014 @12:44PM (#47791221) Journal
    NO there isnt. Better to have Liberty than security in this case. I want ot see what the police see, i want to know what the police are doing. We do not hire them to be secretive. ENOUGH with 'state secrets'
  • Re:Good (Score:5, Insightful)

    by spire3661 ( 1038968 ) on Saturday August 30, 2014 @12:51PM (#47791257) Journal
    You dont hold on to Liberty by viewing every citizen as a murderous stalker.
  • Mod parent up. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by khasim ( 1285 ) <> on Saturday August 30, 2014 @01:01PM (#47791297)

    This is the primary problem with "sweep" methods of collecting data.

    There MIGHT be something in the "sweep" that MAY impact a current investigation. Therefore, ALL of the "sweep" must be hidden from the public.

    Bullshit. There shouldn't be any difficulty in removing the items relevant to a current investigation. The should already be tagged as such. Then release the rest.

    This is a case of "collect EVERYTHING and keep it FOREVER" so that anyone can be backtracked if the cops or politicians decide to do so. Where do you go? When? Why? What do you do there?

    Now imagine a cop tracking your daughter to find out where she lives and where she works and which college she goes to and when she leaves for classes.

  • by Tokolosh ( 1256448 ) on Saturday August 30, 2014 @01:06PM (#47791327)

    I read a lot of discussion comments vilifying Democrat or Republican presidents, representatives and senators. People are slowly realizing that both parties are equally bad. I take this as given, and anticipated by the Founding Fathers.

    The antidote is supposed to be the judiciary, from the bottom all the way up to the Supreme Court. However, the scales are now falling from my eyes. I a sadly conclude that judges are partisan, stupid, have not respect for the Constitution and the long-term consequences of their decisions. They are completely beholden to the executive and legislative branches and have abdicated their responsibilities. They have lost my respect.

  • Re:Good (Score:4, Insightful)

    by cHiphead ( 17854 ) on Saturday August 30, 2014 @01:24PM (#47791389)

    You're kidding right? This is absolutely a farse. The data set isn't insanely large and they could simply redact any specific records that may relate to active investigations.

    The LAPD obviously doesn't want people to know they just run the shit out of everyone without cause, effectively committing searches without probable or even generally reasonable public safety cause.

  • Re:Good (Score:4, Insightful)

    by SeaFox ( 739806 ) on Saturday August 30, 2014 @01:27PM (#47791409)

    At least the LAPD nominally works for the people.

    A murderous stalker doesn't.

    So yeah, there are some really good reasons to keep the raw data from the public.

    The LAPD "working for the people" is an implied mission statement. It doesn't really reflect the individuals within the organization. A murderous stalker has to actually follow you to gather info, but the LAPD officer doesn't now, that's the only difference. The police can just as easily abuse a power given to them, kinda like those NSA agents using their expensive taxpayer-funded gear and government-granted spying powers to stalk love interests.

    There was a scene in the 1997 movie Men In Black where Tommy Lee Jones's character is sitting at a console with high-resolution satellite imagery available in real time, and he zooms in on a suburban home, and the women he once knew years ago, and the thinks of the life he could have had if he hadn't become a MIB agent. That movie was so long before all this War on Terror and domestic spying BS no one recognized that scene for what it was.

  • Re:Good (Score:5, Insightful)

    by jklovanc ( 1603149 ) on Saturday August 30, 2014 @01:47PM (#47791481)

    Do you think your income tax records, water usage, parking ticket record, etc should be publicly available? All of this is data owned by the government. Just because it belongs to the people does not mean that is is not private data and should not be available to the public.

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