Officials use the COVID-19 Crisis to Create Statewide Vehicle Surveillance Programs Run by Rekor Systems

By Joe Cadillic, Cowriter for NMA’s Street Surveillance Blog and Editor of the MassPrivatel Blog

Cash-strapped states are using COVID as an excuse to create AI-driven vehicle recognition or license plate reader surveillance programs.

As Rekor Systems President/CEO Robert Berman proudly boasts on the video, “…because our technology works so well for vehicle recognition, we do more!  We identify the vehicle’s make, model, color, body type, bumper stickers or window decals, rust, dents, and other things like speed of travel and vehicle direction.” (approximately at 2:40 minutes on the above video.)

Berman revealed that fast-food restaurants are using Rekor’s vehicle surveillance program “because it helps the folks who are making the food to do it more efficiently,” claiming that it helps companies like Starbucks ID customers who order the same thing every day.

Berman also admitted that Rekor’s vehicle surveillance program is tied to smart city surveillance, stating, “This is where things are headed. This is where things are going to converge.”

Rekor bills itself as an AI-driven vehicle recognition company that “operates in over 500 regions worldwide.”

A recent article in One Zero revealed that Oklahoma is using the COVID-19 crisis as an excuse to secretly create a statewide mass vehicle surveillance program using Rekor to help raise much-needed funds.

“Oklahoma, which has seen its tax revenue plummet alongside falling oil prices, announced a statewide rollout of Rekor One in November to track uninsured motorists.” 

From airports to schools and now vehicles, is there no end to using COVID to increase public surveillance?

Rekor press release from November 2020 reveals just how extensive their vehicle surveillance program is.

“Use of the Rekor One platform by Oklahoma’s Uninsured Vehicle Enforcement Diversion Program (UVED) Program furthers the state’s mission to decrease the number of uninsured motorists on the road and keep matters out of the court system. The platform allows for real-time detection of non-compliant vehicles and instant data consolidation into a regularly updating insurance database connected to the state’s enforcement programs. Additionally, Rekor’s AI-driven technology identifies a vehicle’s make, model, and color—providing additional validation for confirming vehicle identification.”

Rekor and the Oklahoma District Attorneys Council claim the program is an improvement over being stopped and fined by law enforcement.

“Instead of receiving a criminal court summons and a $250 fine, uninsured motorists captured by Rekor’s cameras mounted on utility poles and mobile trailers are sent a violation notice to their home, hit with a $174 citation, and must enroll in an insurance policy through Rekor’s insurance portal.”

Instead of being stopped and fined by public officials, Oklahoma drivers should accept a statewide vehicle surveillance program designed to get more money out of people by mailing fines to their homes and forcing them to use Rekor’s insurance?

As One Zero points out, if people cannot afford to pay their corporate overlords, they could be prosecuted.

If an individual can’t pay, however, they may face prosecution. “Prosecutorial discretion attends to those who demonstrate acute financial distress,” UVED Program Director/Prosecutor Amanda Arnall Couch said in an email. “The purpose of this program is to help the most vulnerable.”

The Tea Party rebellion started on a lot less than what states like Oklahoma are doing.

Mass surveillance masquerading as public safety leading to corporate fines and prosecution because someone could not afford to pay their automobile insurance during a pandemic seems like a stretch even for the Police State.

Rekor wants their corporate/law enforcement vehicle surveillance program to spread across the country.

“It’s a common business practice that you want to expand your success. We know we are successful in the state of Oklahoma, and other states have taken notice,” Rekor Executive Vice President Charles Deglimini said.

Cash-strapped governments turn to tech that converts cameras into automated license plate readers to ID, track and penalize drivers for all sorts of offenses.

States like LouisianaNevada, and Florida have been tracking uninsured motorists with ALPRs, but Oklahoma is the first to implement a statewide vehicle surveillance program.

 “This year, TexasTennessee, and Florida introduced legislation that would require statewide ALPR-assisted insurance enforcement programs. In February, Rekor announced a pilot program at three national parks in North Dakota. A recent New York state bill would prohibit individuals and businesses from using ALPR data, but expands state power by outlining ALPR surveillance as a viable tool for identifying parking and traffic violations, violations of registration requirements, and violations of inspection requirements.”

Rekor Uses Video Doorbells to Create Neighborhood Vehicle Surveillance Networks 

As I wrote about last year, Rekor uses video doorbells like Ring to create a 68 million neighborhood vehicle surveillance network.

“Rekor is going to great lengths to turn smart homes into neighborhood vehicle surveillance networks. To entice suburban residents, it’s offering a steep price drop — from the $50 a month it charges businesses and law enforcement agencies to $5 a month, less than the price of a newspaper subscription. Rekor also allows your neighbor to identify a limited number of vehicles for $99, $395, or $1995 a month.”

And that’s not all. Rekor also tracks, identifies, and fines vehicles in parking lots and permit-parking only spots.

One thing is clear, government officials are using the pandemic as an excuse to create mass surveillance programs run by private corporations.

“What you seem to have here is a mass surveillance program being created to satisfy the insurance industry and to potentially generate money for the government,” Dave Maas, director of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, warned. 

The mass media and government officials want everyone to look the other way as they use COVID as an excuse to let corporations profit from all manners of public surveillance.

Not an NMA Member yet?

Join today and get these great benefits!

Leave a Comment