Thursday, July 18, 2013

“There’s just a fundamental question of whether we’re going to live in a society where these dragnet surveillance systems become routine,” said Catherine Crump, a staff attorney with the ACLU. The civil rights group is proposing that police departments immediately delete any records of cars not linked to a crime.

I my humble opinion, this is a horrific violation of our basic human rights, being monitored with electronic tags like eagles, dolphins, sharks, tigers, bears and other wild animals all in the name of scientific study or national security and safety ...I call "bullsh*t."

If this type of behavior by our governments and police is generally deemed "okay," then why don't they inform us first so we can have our say and voice our opinions???  Clearly, we do not live in a free democracy, rather a police state where our freedoms continually are taken away without us even knowing it.  I read once many years back, that our government has the stance that "it's easier to say 'sorry' than to get permission from the general public."  So this seems to be their clear position toward basically everything involved with our personal lives: They will violate our rights, only to ask for forgiveness by backpedaling, playing on our emotions and desire to be honest, upstanding and compassionate people.  We've got your number, our dear corrupt governments more "Mr. Nice Guy & Gal" allowing you to constantly take advantage of us and continue to strip our freedoms away!

They seem to have a nefarious plan of keeping us "in control," as more and more under-handed and sneaky surveillance is exposed.  "Hallelujah" for whistle blowers, who have gained a moral conscience and are willing to risk their jobs and even personal freedom by revealing this corrupt, backward-ass system the 1% have been, literally manually, installing into our cities --into our private and personal lives-- over the past years and decades.

Thank you Anne, Stephen and both your Guides!

Driving Somewhere? There’s a Government Record of That

An Alexandria Police Dept. squad car outfitted with a license plate scanner (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais
An Alexandria Police Dept. squad car outfitted with a license plate scanner (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais
Stephen: I’m sure we all knew this was  going on, but such mainstream coverage is now reaching the wider public. And when you add stories like this to the NSA, PRISM, Tempora and other spying revelations, people are really starting to take note – and question what’s going on. Meanwhile, there are now some 19 groups which are part of the Electronic Frontier Foundation action against the NSA. This includes the First Unitarian Church of Los Angeles, Greenpeace and Human Rights Watch. Thanks to Suzanne.
By Anne Flaherty, Associated Press – July 17, 2013
WASHINGTON (AP) — Chances are, your local or state police departments have photographs of your car in their files, noting where you were driving on a particular day, even if you never did anything wrong.
Using automated scanners, law enforcement agencies across the country have amassed millions of digital records on the location and movement of every vehicle with a license plate, according to a study published Wednesday by the American Civil Liberties Union.
Affixed to police cars, bridges or buildings, the scanners capture images of passing or parked vehicles and note their location, uploading that information into police databases. Departments keep the records for weeks or years, sometimes indefinitely.
As the technology becomes cheaper and more ubiquitous, and federal grants focus on aiding local terrorist detection, even small police agencies are able to deploy more sophisticated surveillance systems. While the Supreme Court ruled in 2012 that a judge’s approval is needed to track a car with GPS, networks of plate scanners allow police effectively to track a driver’s location, sometimes several times every day, with few legal restrictions. The ACLU says the scanners assemble what it calls a “single, high-resolution image of our lives.”
“There’s just a fundamental question of whether we’re going to live in a society where these dragnet surveillance systems become routine,” said Catherine Crump, a staff attorney with the ACLU. The civil rights group is proposing that police departments immediately delete any records of cars not linked to a crime.
Law enforcement officials said the scanners can be crucial to tracking suspicious cars, aiding drug busts and finding abducted children. License plate scanners also can be efficient. The state of Maryland told the ACLU that troopers could “maintain a normal patrol stance” while capturing up to 7,000 license plate images in a single eight hour shift.
“At a time of fiscal and budget constraints, we need better assistance for law enforcement,” said Harvey Eisenberg, chief of the national security section and assistant U.S. attorney in Maryland.
Law enforcement officials also point out that the technology is legal in most cases, automating a practice that’s been done for years. The ACLU found that only five states have laws governing license plate readers. New Hampshire, for example, bans the technology except in narrow circumstances, while Maine and Arkansas limit how long plate information can be stored.
“There’s no expectation of privacy” for a vehicle driving on a public road or parked in a public place, said Lt. Bill Hedgpeth, a spokesman for the Mesquite Police Department in Texas, which has records stretching back to 2008, although the city plans next month to begin deleting files older than two years. “It’s just a vehicle. It’s just a license plate.”
In Yonkers, N.Y., just north of the Bronx, police said retaining the information indefinitely helps detectives solve future crimes. In a statement, the department said it uses license plate readers as a “reactive investigative tool” that is only accessed if detectives are looking for a particular vehicle in connection to a crime.
“These plate readers are not intended nor used to follow the movements of members of the public,” the department’s statement said.
But even if law enforcement officials say they don’t want a public location tracking system, the records add up quickly. In Jersey City, N.J., for example, the population is only 250,000 but the city collected more than 2 million plate images on file. Because the city keeps records for five years, the ACLU estimates that it has some 10 million on file, making it possible for police to plot the movements of most residents depending upon the number and location of the scanners, according to the ACLU.
The ACLU study, based on 26,000 pages of responses from 293 police departments and state agencies across the country, also found that license plate scanners produced a small fraction of “hits,” or alerts to police that a suspicious vehicle has been found.
In Maryland, for example, the state reported reading about 29 million plates between January and May of last year. Of that amount, about 60,000 — or roughly 1 in every 500 license plates — were suspicious. The No. 1 crime? A suspended or revoked registration, or a violation of the state’s emissions inspection program accounted for 97 percent of all alerts.
Eisenberg, the assistant U.S. attorney, said the numbers “fail to show the real qualitative assistance to public safety and law enforcement.” He points to the 132 wanted suspects the program helped track. They were a small fraction of the 29 million plates read, but he said tracking those suspects can be critical to keeping an area safe.
Also, he said, Maryland has rules in place restricting access for criminal investigations only. Most records are retained for one year in Maryland, and the state’s privacy policies are reviewed by an independent board, Eisenberg noted.
At least in Maryland, “there are checks, and there are balances,” he said.
By Anne Flaherty, Associated Press – July 17, 2013
BLOGGER COMMENT:  We just read that their reasoning for such surveillance is to keep us safe and to find criminals; however, the stats referenced in this article alone show otherwise.  For example, 132 wanted suspects were tracked (not caught, per se) out of 29 million surveillances.  Let me repeat that: 132 out of 29,000,000!  That ratio is 0.00000455% success rate --are you flipping kidding me???  We are being monitored daily, and their rationale is to find criminals, and yet their success rate is 0.00000455% --what a complete joke!  Obviously, we're being monitored NOT TO FIND CRIMINALS, but for our governments own agendas....

How the government can still track your vehicle without GPS

By  | Motoramic – Mon, Jan 23, 2012 11:29 AM EST
The U.S. Supreme Court unanimously ruled today that law enforcement agencies can't track a vehicle by planting a GPS device without a warrant. It's a win for civil liberties, but the court punted on the bigger question of how far police can go to follow the increasingly vivid electronic trail left by driving.
In the case decided today, federal agents planted a GPS tracker to a Jeep Grand Cherokee owned by a suspect in a drug case, following his movements for 28 days and generating enough data to fill 2,000 pages. The suspect, Antoine Jones, was later convicted of drug trafficking and sentenced to life in prison.
An appeals court sided with Jones and threw out the conviction, finding the government had violated the Fourth Amendment's bar of unreasonable search and seizure because it had not asked for a warrant before planting the GPS. The Supreme Court agreed, saying the government violated Jones' constitutional rights when it physically attached the GPS unit to his Jeep.
But the court's ruling focused on how the government attached the unit, and struggled with whether the government could have legally followed Jones if it never touched his vehicle, and only used electronics to track him. "It may be that achieving the same result through electronic means, without an accompanying trespass, is an unconstitutional invasion of privacy," Justice Anthony Scalia wrote in the majority opinion, "but the present case does not require us to answer that question."
While GPS tracking units have been used for years, the abundance of technology in and outside of vehicles means investigators have many other options -- some of which require court oversight, and others that don't.
Start with your cell phone. Criminal cases routinely use cellphone signals to prove a suspect's movements. Talking on a cellphone creates a record of your location down to a few dozen feet in most cities. Even when not in use, cellphone companies can be required under subpoenas to "ping" handsets without an owner's knowledge to mark their locations. And the GPS chips built-in to most handsets offer yet another, more detailed alternative.
Thanks to apps like Apple's "Find My Phone," cellphones can also act as tracers in emergencies — like the case of a woman in Indiana last week, whose iPhone led police to her stolen Dodge Durango within minutes of its theft from a gas station. Even when car thieves make a clean getaway, in many cities they're snagged by license plate scanners -- special cameras connected to databases that can flag stolen or suspect vehicles.
General Motors' OnStar service has long been used as a stolen-vehicle recovery device; the company faced an uproar last year when it suggested it might let third parties use location data about its subscribers. With many cellphone functions now being built into new models, including Internet access in luxury cars, a growing number of vehicles will be broadcasting a signal whenever they're turned on.
Four Supreme Court justices suggested in a separate opinion today that the key to future cases will be what people expect when they use their devices; tracking public movements would be OK, but minute-by-minute pinging for weeks or months would be unacceptable. The rest of us will keep driving with our phones, our GPS maps and our emergency roadside assistance units in the gray area between the lines.

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