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Privacy Government United States Technology

DEA Planned To Monitor Cars Parked At Gun Shows Using License Plate Readers 577

HughPickens.com writes According to a newly disclosed DEA email obtained by the ACLU through the Freedom of Information Act, the Drug Enforcement Administration and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives collaborated on plans to monitor gun show attendees using automatic license plate readers. Responding to inquiries about the document, the DEA said that the monitoring of gun shows was merely a proposal and was never implemented. "The proposal in the email was only a suggestion. It was never authorized by DEA, and the idea under discussion in the email was never launched,'' says DEA administrator Michele Leonhart.

According to the Wall Street Journal the proposal shows the challenges and risks facing the U.S. as it looks to new, potentially intrusive surveillance technology to help stop criminals. Many of the government's recent efforts have scooped up data from innocent Americans, as well as those suspected of crimes, creating records that lawmakers and others say raise privacy concerns. "Automatic license plate readers must not be used to collect information on lawful activity — whether it be peacefully assembling for lawful purposes, or driving on the nation's highways," says the ACLU. "Without strong regulations and greater transparency, this new technology will only increase the threat of illegitimate government surveillance." National Rifle Association spokesman Andrew Arulanandam says the NRA is "looking into this to see if gun owners were improperly targeted, and has no further comment until we have all the facts."
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DEA Planned To Monitor Cars Parked At Gun Shows Using License Plate Readers

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  • planned? (Score:4, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday February 01, 2015 @09:38PM (#48954899)

    I had assumed that this has been SOP for decades.

    • Re:planned? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by ganjadude ( 952775 ) on Sunday February 01, 2015 @10:04PM (#48955039) Homepage

      "The proposal in the email was only a suggestion. It was never authorized by DEA, and the idea under discussion in the email was never launched,'' says DEA administrator Michele Leonhar

      Sure, just like we never gave guns to cartels, and we have never been monitoring all americans communications either....

      • Re:planned? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by MorphOSX ( 2511156 ) on Monday February 02, 2015 @12:11AM (#48955635)
        When the government comes out and says anything resembling "planned", "suggested", "considered", etc., it really means that they've been doing it for decades, someone discovered something that might expose it, and they want to get ahead of the exposure in order to characterize anyone who tries to discuss it or believes it as a crackpot conspiracy theorist. Companies and governments have seeded public discussion with enough chaff that they can make anyone look like an idiot if they want to, and the public's already primed to believe it.
        • by Taco Cowboy ( 5327 ) on Monday February 02, 2015 @01:18AM (#48956027) Journal

          When the government comes out and says anything resembling "planned", "suggested", "considered", etc., it really means that they've been doing it for decades

          No matter if the American government has carried out this 'car plate scanning' thing for decades, this announcement by itself is a PSY-OP and this mark the beginning of the government of the United States of America launching PSYCHOLOGICAL WARFARE on the Citizens of the United States of America

          In other words, the government of the United States of America is no longer a government of the People, by the People and from the People --- The government of the United States of America has become a government AGAINST the People

    • by mrmeval ( 662166 )

      They've been at the http://www.indy1500.com/ [indy1500.com] for years. The high tech method before all this newfangled automation was called a autonomous meat sack with a pen and paper. Now that they funnel participants in to buy a ticked they can just slap up a camera and record away.

  • The sad part? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday February 01, 2015 @09:40PM (#48954907)

    This story will probably get more attention than the CIA torture report. More attention than the NSA surveillance scandal. More attention than just about anything that actually _needs_ attention. Why? Gun nuts are paranoid as hell, that's why. Despite having the security of a firearm they're terrified that the government is going to sweep in and take them away for...what reason again? If anything it's in the US government's best interests for their citizens to be shooting each other dead, saves them ammunition on those shiny new NYPD vehicles with FUCKING MACHINE GUN TURRETS. There is absolutely no practical reason that anyone in the NYPD needs an armoured vehicle with a machine gun turret. Tihs is supposedly to help "fight" terror instead of "create" terror. Oh, of course they won't use them against protestors. Of course they won't.

    Sometimes I think Americans are just going to sit on their asses and take all of this bullshit until the government actually does pull a Tiannamen Square on some protest, at which point the guns will finally be aimed at the people who truly deserve to have their heads blown off. Politicians.

    • Re:The sad part? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by I'm New Around Here ( 1154723 ) on Sunday February 01, 2015 @09:48PM (#48954953)

      This story will probably get more attention than the CIA torture report. More attention than the NSA surveillance scandal. More attention than just about anything that actually _needs_ attention. Why? Gun nuts are paranoid as hell, that's why. Despite having the security of a firearm they're terrified that the government is going to sweep in and take them away for...what reason again?

      Since when does the government need a specific or legal reason? Guns have been taken for many reasons, and prohibited for many more.

      Personally, I don't own a gun. But until you actually amend the US Constitution, and break the Bill of Rights even further, it isn't the government's business (or yours) if I have one or not.

    • Re:The sad part? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by khallow ( 566160 ) on Sunday February 01, 2015 @09:55PM (#48954995)

      they're terrified that the government is going to sweep in and take them away for...what reason again?

      Control. I guess I need to state the obvious, that an unarmed population is easier to control than an armed one. Weapons are just another form of power like knowledge or freedom.

      • they're terrified that the government is going to sweep in and take them away for...what reason again?

        Control. I guess I need to state the obvious, that an unarmed population is easier to control than an armed one. Weapons are just another form of power like knowledge or freedom.

        Only for the crudest forms of control.

        But aside from high profile assassinations an individual with a gun is pretty ineffectual. It does however make it easier for governments to justify all other sorts of restrictions. Police are going to maintain their monopoly on force, police militarization and police brutality are both consequences of police escalating against a heavily armed population.

        And if things ever really get bad and you need a revolution the thing that really scares governments isn't an armed r

    • well after a shotting in another state, NYS decided to change its laws and implement the safe act. now, i know a number of people who have flat out refused to abide by it, but the government really does not like the fact that we have guns.

      instead of complaining that there are americans fighting hard for the 2nd amendment, maybe we could learn from them and start applying that same want to maintain the rest of the constitution?
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Funny thing about your rant, and many like it. Ever notice how liberal civil rights supporters seem to lose every battle against the government? They are the "smartest of the smart" or "the elite intelectuals" and just can't seem to stop the NSA, or torture, or drone use, and on and on. You would almost think its actually impossible to defeat the government trying to control people.

      However, the "stupid, redneck, hick, idiot" has managed to keep the government out of the 2nd amendment. They have been so

      • by HBI ( 604924 )

        It's because the vast majority of the statists are on the left. Bottom line, that's why the idea of a right can't get a fair hearing on that side. Far more important for the state to dictate what you can and can't do than it is for people to have intrinsic rights.

    • Re:The sad part? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by ShaunC ( 203807 ) on Sunday February 01, 2015 @10:22PM (#48955115)

      Gun nuts are paranoid as hell, that's why.

      And with good reason; this story is yet another confirmation that they are out to get us. I wish everyone would be as paranoid as "gun nuts."

      • How is an unimplemented suggestion confirmation of anything? If anything, the fact that the idea was not pursued would confirm that they aren’t out to get us, at least not to the degree that paranoid gun nuts fear.

        • How is an unimplemented suggestion confirmation of anything? .

          The fact that someone in the government would think it's OK to even suggest such an outlandish infringement of individual liberty is pretty scary.

          Yes, it would be scarier if they had actually carried out the suggestion but it's disconcerting enough that people who suggest operations such as these are employed in positions where they can wield authority.

      • Re:The sad part? (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Uberbah ( 647458 ) on Monday February 02, 2015 @01:00AM (#48955929)

        What percentage of your guns has Obama taken away yet? 10%, 30%, or is it coming up on 100? And there were all those Snowden docs talking about the DHS's double-secret-plus plans to disarm law abiiiiden muricans.

        /endsarcasm

        The Deep State doesn't give a flying fuck about ammosexuals and how many guns they have. Because 99% of them might talk a good game about fearing an unaccountable police state, only to turn on a dime and excuse cops for murdering citizens and cheering the bombing of the latest Muslim country that's never attacked us. And they couldn't be bothered to get out of bed when Obama signed domestic military detention without trial into law, anymore than the Obamabots did. Even Superman would be amazed at how fast they can strip off their "Don't Tread on Me" tshirts and begin goosestepping.

    • by dbIII ( 701233 )

      There is absolutely no practical reason that anyone in the NYPD needs an armoured vehicle with a machine gun turret.

      The South African Police had those a while back - consider what they thought of the people they were deploying them against and you've got some idea of what the people running the NYPD think of New Yorkers.
      Note I wrote "the people running" - so Horse Judges with well connected friends instead of something resembling professional law enforcement.

    • by jsrjsr ( 658966 )

      Gun nuts are paranoid as hell, that's why.

      Are you paranoid if people are trying to do exactly what you think they are?

    • This story will probably get more attention than the CIA torture report.

      The reason why it can and should get more attention is that it's obvious even to a three year old such monitoring is wrong, whereas torture is an issue that's very much up in the air as to being reasonable to use - but there's no question the people it was used against were ACTUALLY criminals.

      Nothing says "false moral equivalence" more than equating making known terrorists who have been captured in combat a little uncomfortable for a wh

  • If there is such a thing as 'the sound of the NRA deciding that maybe the can agree with the American Communist Lawyers Union on something', I suspect this is what it sounds like.
  • by rubycodez ( 864176 ) on Sunday February 01, 2015 @09:55PM (#48954997)

    so some random brain-fart email was sent, never acted upon, and this gets blown up into "planned to track owners"

    If someone wants to have a serious discussion of the decades of problems the DEA has caused legitimate gun owners, and how they've armed murderers and cartel thugs, let's have a different article series. But I doubt anything would be approved as "story" on this site, it's fading into a place where people just cut and paste "news" from other sites instead of writing original material with sources. Just clickbait tabloid trash site now, how sad.

    • Well, maybe it was never acted upon because they found out that NSA is already tracking car plates pretty much everywhere, and got access to the resulting database as part of that inter-agency exchange program we've heard about recently?

  • Taking Uber to gun show, check.
  • by spasm ( 79260 ) on Sunday February 01, 2015 @10:02PM (#48955033) Homepage

    Keeping an eye on the Mexican cartel's major source of weapons seems like a half-sensible suggestion. And since it's at least half sensible, it's completely unsurprising the DEA decided not to actually do it.

    • except for the DEA was the one giving those guns to the cartels, or have you forgotten about fast and furious???
    • If you consider 12% to be major then, yes, a major source of Mexican cartel's weapons come from the U.S.

      "...out of approximately 30,000 weapons seized in drug cases in Mexico in 2004-2008. 7,200 appeared to be of U.S. origin, approximately 4,000 were found in ATF manufacturer and importer records, and 87 percent of those - 3,480 - originated in the United States." 3,480 of 30,000 is 11.6%.

      Source [wikipedia.org]

      Of course, another major source of guns used in Mexican crimes came directly from the ATF. The Mexican government

      • by spasm ( 79260 )

        It might only be 12%, but 3,480 is still a *lot* of guns. Just saying. And yeah, the ATF has made a murderous nightmare even worse and some people should be doing prison time for that one.

  • DEA Planned To Monitor Cars Parked At Kraft Shows Using License Plate Readers
    DEA Planned To Monitor Cars Parked At Dog Shows Using License Plate Readers
    DEA Planned To Monitor Cars Parked At Quilting Shows Using License Plate Readers
    DEA Planned To Monitor Cars Parked At Cat Shows Using License Plate Readers
    DEA Planned To Monitor Cars Parked At Boat Shows Using License Plate Readers
    DEA Planned To Monitor Cars Parked At Jewelry Shows Using License Plate Readers


    I didn't say you were paranoid, you must h
  • It genuinely seems unreasonable to me to simultaneously both be in a public place and while still having any expectation of privacy. Unless they are turning around and arresting the people whose plates they found at such lawful meetings without charging them with a crime beyond the fact that they were there in the first place (which is not illegal) then there'd be something wrong. That's not what's happening, so I don't see the problem.
  • What about the license place recognition software I've got running on the PC in my car that's connected to the camera looking out the front window that's storing the image, plate number and GPS coordinates in a database?

    • i dont care what you, a private individual does with such a DB. you cant do anything to me with that information, and if you tried anything bad with that information, I would be within my rights to defend myself.
  • According to the Wall Street Journal the proposal shows the challenges and risks facing the U.S. as it looks to new, potentially intrusive surveillance technology to help stop criminals.

    I don't know whether or not to be surprised that the WSJ (owned by Rupert Murdoch, who also owns Fox "News") would call technology to read license plates of vehicles parked in public lots "intrusive" - or is it just because it's proposed use includes gun shows?

    National Rifle Association spokesman Andrew Arulanandam says the NRA is "looking into this to see if gun owners were improperly targeted,

    Pun intended?

    Anyway, I thought the popular Conservative mantras concerning privacy were (a) there should be no expectation of privacy in public and (b) if you've done nothing wrong, you've got nothing to hide.

    • ok, lets change it up a bit shall we???

      Would you be ok with this tech being used outside of abortion cliniques?

      would you be ok with this tech being used at peaceful protests???

      would you like this tech being used at battered womens shelters???

      Would you be ok with it being used at...... well you get the point

      If you can think of 1, just 1 place where this tech does NOT belong in use, then it should not be used
  • by LynnwoodRooster ( 966895 ) on Sunday February 01, 2015 @11:09PM (#48955327) Journal
    That's so 20th century. Our Government will take care of us, we don't need those pesky rights or even that Constitution. Just let the Government do it all for us!
    • by creimer ( 824291 )
      Stop watching Fox News. You might find life less paranoid.
      • sure, lets watch MSNBC instead, theres no nutjobs on that station at all!
        • by creimer ( 824291 )
          How reading and watching news from multiple sources to form an independent opinion. Oh, wait. It's hard work to stay informed. Never mind. Carry on. Nothing to see here.
      • Don't need to watch Fox News to see the Bill of Rights being shredded by our Government. Which one of the Amendments in the Bill of Rights hasn't been trampled, save the 3rd Amendment (which is the only one I can think of that is not regularly violated)?
  • I guess the plates are coming in with me then.
  • by CaptainLard ( 1902452 ) on Monday February 02, 2015 @12:34AM (#48955785)

    " NRA is "looking into this to see if gun owners were improperly targeted,"

    I don't know who else would be targeted at a gun show so once the NRA picks up it's batphone you can bet the DEA will be as marginalized as the ATF (understaffed to monitor firearms nationwide, directorless for 7 years, etc), effectively ending the war on drugs.

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