Cops Are Tracking You and Sharing Your Data With Law Enforcement Around the Country

Police and private companies have developed new technologies to automatically document our comings and goings, everywhere we go. One of these technologies is automated license plate readers. With them, and the corresponding databases, police can search our travel patterns with just a few clicks of their keyboard.

A combination of high-speed cameras and optical character recognition technologies that identify license plates. What makes this surveillance technology so particularly powerful is that drivers are legally required to install license plates on their vehicles, so license plates become legally required tracking beacons.

These surveillance systems can be put anywhere, in stationary locations, like highway overpasses and street lights to track every vehicle that passes. Or they can be put on top of vehicles to passively collect license plate scans for the government or for corporations.

After the license plates are read, the systems uploads the data to a central database with the date, time and global positioning coordinates. These databases can be searched by cops to see where drivers have traveled. Police can add specific license plates to “hot lists,” allowing for alerts whenever a vehicle is spotted in the network, regardless of whether anyone is suspected of a crime.



Photo: “Macdonald-Cartier Bridge” by Pier-Luc Bergeron is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

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