Contact Us

Police Using License-Plate Scanners; Big Brother Is Watching

Flickr: Dave Dugdale

The American Civil Liberties Union released a report on Wednesday saying that police forces around the country are using license-plate scanning devices to help track and solve crimes; but in the process are also storing information of millions of innocent drivers.

The collected data is mostly unrelated to suspected crimes or activities and ACLU says the process is “ripe for misuse and abuse.” The group also says there is very little supervision over the collected information. Most motorist are unaware their information was collected at all, ever.

The ACLU report states “in effect, government location tracking systems recording the movements of many millions of innocent Americans in huge databases.”

Catherine Crump, ACLU staff attorney, told USA Today:

This is a way to track all Americans all the time, regardless of whether they’re accused of any wrongdoing. (This is) the most widespread location tracking technology you’ve probably never heard of.

Where are these plate scanners at? Most are mounted on police cars themselves; on the trunk or hood. They get even trickier though as some have been known to be mounted on road signs, toll gates, and bridges.

The data from the plates collected can be submitted to a secondary police inquiry, where further information can be viewed in the state vehicle registry.

Police have responded to report saying the plate scanners have helped in stolen car crimes, as well as homicides. But even the International Association of Chiefs of Police have come out saying this system could very well lead to invasion of privacy.

The ACLU, in their report, has several recommendations for how the data should be used by police

  • Police must have reasonable suspicion that a crime has occurred before examining the data.
  • Unless there are legitimate reasons to retain records, they should be deleted within days or weeks at most.
  • People should be able to find out if their cars’ location history is in a law enforcement database.

The theory that “Big Brother” is watching has gained more momentum with this story.


Recommended for You

Best of the Web

Leave a Comment

It appears that you already have an account created within our VIP network of sites on . To keep your personal information safe, we need to verify that it's really you. To activate your account, please confirm your password. When you have confirmed your password, you will be able to log in through Facebook on both sites.

Forgot your password?

*Please note that your prizes and activities will not be shared between programs within our VIP network.

It appears that you already have an account on this site associated with . To connect your existing account just click on the account activation button below. You will maintain your existing VIP profile. After you do this, you will be able to always log in to using your original account information.

*Please note that your prizes and activities will not be shared between programs within our VIP network.

Please fill out the information below to help us provide you a better experience.

(Forgot your password?)

Not a member? Sign up here

Sign up for Rock-A-Holics quickly by connecting your Facebook account. It's just as secure and no password to remember!

Sign up to have exclusive Rock-A-Holics contests, events, coupons, presales, and much more delivered to you for FREE.