License plate scanners, a “digital dragnet” being used by law enforcement all over the nation, scans your license plate, which is then entered into a data base. The license plate scanner and data base were created as a tool for all arms of law enforcement that will help solve crimes. According to the ACLU, this “fast growing trend is ripe for misuse and abuse,” reports USA Today on July 17, 2013.
These license plate scanners are collecting information on innocent people who have never committed a crime along with criminals. These scanners are mounted on the rear fender, roof, or trunk of police cars and parking enforcement vehicles. They are also mounted on toll booths, road signs and bridges.
Most folks have no idea they were just scanned as they drive along in their car. How is this helpful to law enforcement? Say if a child is kidnapped in the area, these scans are collected in a data base, in which law enforcement can go through to see what cars were in the area at the time. The same goes for a crime like a robbery, drive-by shooting or burglery, this gives the police another place to head to when looking for suspects.
According to “Fox and Friends” on Thursday, July 18, Steve Doocy reports that the ACLU wants the license plates of people without a criminal record to be deleted from this data base. Doocy’s reply to this request was simply “good luck.”
Deleting the license plates of innocent people would probably render this data base not very helpful. How many people show up in the news with a clean slate for a police record after comitting a horrific crime? This might have a feel to some that “big brother is watching you,” even more than they ever have.
The ACLU’s report revealed the use of this license plate scanner data base after they compiled information from 38 states under the Freedom of Information act. It seems that 71% of police agencies now use the license plate scanner, according to a 2012 survey done by the non-profit Police Executive Research Forum.
The little supervision or control over this data base, where the license plates that were scanned are entered, is a concern for the ACLU. They feel it could easily be misused. They can use this system to basically track all your moves around the country.
There’s two sides of this coin to think about. If you are a parent whose child was just abducted and the license plate scan picked up a car in the area that leads you to your child, you’d be thankful for this data base. The same goes for a robbery or any other crime in the area where this data base was used to find the suspects.
The Government tracking your every move is seen as a problem for many, as many see the scanning of the license plates as just another invasion of privacy from the government. First it was the tracking of your cell phone calls and now the tracking of your car.
This isn’t just happening in big cities, Milpitas, California, which has a population of 68,000, has 4.7 license plate scans on file in their data base. If a car is stolen, home broken into or another type of crime is comitted then they have this tool to go back to. That person who gets their car back after checking the license plate scans will probably sing praises about the data base. What do you think?