More on those Ominous Black Boxes

 Posted on September 26, 2008 in Uncategorized

Reader Trafficnerd gave us a few links to pages about the HPD's DEA-funded PlateScan Automatic License Plate Recognition (ALPR) systems.

None of them, oddly enough, mention the DEA funding that Officer Friendly told me about.

Here, though, is Houston HIDTA (High-Intensity Drug Trafficking Area task force) director Stan Furce's "So, you want an LPR" article from the August issue of Law Officer Magazine.

A highlight:

The license data LPRs collect can be stored for an indeterminablelength of time, limited only by the server containing the information.Some LPRs temporarily store information in the camera housing orin a nearby server, but all will eventually download it into a largerserver, either automatically or manually. Investigators from alldisciplines can then query that server to learn if a certain VOI was ina particular area at a specified time and, perhaps, who was drivingit.

There goes any remaining illusion I might have had that when I'm driving along minding my own business nobody else is minding my business. The government is able to record where and when my license plate was spotted, and keep it in a database. For an indeterminable length of time.

I probably don't have to point out to my prosecutorial readers this development's utility to their mission to help the government exercise more power over the people. I'll bet that HPD Homicide's tech geek, B.C. McDaniel, is already all over it. For the defense, a subpoena for ALPR data might, if the defense is lucky, turn up a sighting that supports an alibi.

Coming soon to street corners near you: cameras that can do the same thing with your face that HPD's ALPR can do with your license plate.

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