Police in Gwinnett, GA are deploying their newest technology surveillance tool: the Automatic License Plate Reader.
These systems include multiple cameras mounted on police vehicles which can tag, scan and identify nearly 2000 license plates per minute. The data is instantly matched against law enforcement databases for wanted vehicles, and if a hit registers, the officer in the vehicle is notified instantly.
Instant hits may include cars on the Hot List for reason that include stolen vehicles, cars wanted for questioning in police investigations, Amber Alerts, unregistered vehicles, or drivers with outstanding criminal warrants or suspended driver’s licenses.
These ALPR systems were purchased by the department with drug forfeiture money.
Another capability of these systems is their massive ability to collect data. Those thousands of license plates per hour are tagged by GPS location, date, and time, and stored in a massive federal database somewhere, combined with data collected from similar scanners nationwide. The government is explicit about the “Terrorist Interdiction and Pattern recognition” abilities that can be gleaned from data mining.
So even if you haven’t done anything wrong, your location data has been logged, and can be pulled up at any time. This means that if a police cruiser drove by a home a month ago, and it is later determine that a crime took place at that time and location, and your car happened to be parked outside, you are instantly a suspect.
It is also easy to see how this data can be sorted and associations can be drawn. Where has your car been spotted at what times? What other cars were around it? We are truly on the verge of a surveillance state.
And the privacy concerns about excessive government power are being virtually ignored.