By guest writer Joe Cadillic of the Massprivatel Blog
Our worst fears about automatic license plate readers (ALPR) are coming to fruition, and no one in public understands just how much our privacy will be invaded.
This summer, I warned everyone on my blog, and in the NMA Weekly E-Newsletter #554, that police in Arizona were using ALPR’s to “grid” entire neighborhoods.
But the following news brings public surveillance to a whole new level.
Last month, Rekor Systems announced that they had launched the Rekor Public Safety Network (RPSN) which gives law enforcement real-time access to scanned license plates.
“Any state or local law enforcement agency participating in the RPSN will be able to access real-time data from any part of the network at no cost. The Company is initially launching the network by aggregating vehicle data from customers in over 30 states. With thousands of automatic license plate reading cameras currently in service that capture approximately 150 million plate reads per month, the network is expected to be live by the first quarter of 2020.”
RPSN is a 30-state, real-time law enforcement license plate database that contains the information of more than 150 million people.
And the scary thing—it is free!
“We don’t think our participants should be charged for accessing information from a network they contribute to, especially when it provides information that has proven its value in solving crimes and closing cases quickly,” said Robert A. Berman, President and CEO, Rekor.
Want to encourage law enforcement to spy on everyone? Give them free access to a massive license plate database.
RPSN’s AI software uses machine learning to predict when and where a hotlisted person or a person of interest will be.
“Rekor’s software, powered by artificial intelligence (“AI”) and machine learning, can also be added to existing law enforcement security camera networks to search for law enforcement related hotlists as well as Amber Alerts and registered sex offender motor vehicles.”
The Westchester County New York Police Department’s Real Time Crime Center alone collects “more than 25 million license plates each month.”
A post in Traffic Technology Today revealed that Rekor plans to go to great lengths to convince police departments to track millions of motorists.
“In 2020, the RPSN will be fully compliant with the federal 2019 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) law, which bans the use of certain foreign-manufactured cameras used in critical infrastructure.”
Rekor’s 2019 NDAA sales pitch, is both disturbing and despicable. It reveals just where they and law enforcement stand when it comes to using ALPR’s to spy on millions of motorists.
A recent article in The Newspaper.com revealed how police in Louisiana use license plate readers to track motorists in real-time. Eric J. Richard had been driving his white Buick LaCrosse on Interstate 10, when he was stopped by Louisiana State Police Trooper Luke Leger for allegedly following a truck too closely. During the roadside interrogation, the trooper asked where Richard was coming from.
“I was coming from my job right there in Vinton,” Richard replied. The trooper had already looked up the travel records for Richard’s car and already knew it had crossed into Louisiana from Texas earlier in the day. Based on this “apparent lie,” the trooper extended the traffic stop by asking more questions and calling in a drug dog.
The article goes on to say that police had no reason to track Mr. Richard, but they did so because they could.
And that should frighten everyone!
Rekor lets law enforcement know where your friends and family are, where your doctor’s office is, where you worship and where you buy groceries.
How is that for Orwellian?
It is time to face the facts: ALPRs are not about public safety. They constitute a massive surveillance system designed to let Big Brother track our every movement.
Editor’s Note: The opinions expressed in this newsletter are those of the author.