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DEA Wants To Install License Plate Scanners and Retain Data for Two Years

Unknown Lamer posted about 2 years ago | from the freedom-of-movement-denied dept.

Privacy 295

An anonymous reader writes with news that might make privacy advocates a bit uneasy. From the article: "Everyone driving on Interstate 15 in southwest Utah may soon have their license plate scanned by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration. The DEA and two sheriffs are asking permission to install stationary license plate scanners on the freeway in Beaver and Washington counties. The primary purpose would be to catch or build cases against drug traffickers, but at a Utah Legislature committee meeting Wednesday, the sheriffs and a DEA representative described how the scanners also could be used to catch kidnappers and violent criminals. That, however, wasn't the concern of skeptical legislators on the Law Enforcement and Criminal Justice Interim Committee. They were worried about the DEA storing the data for two years and who would be able to access it."

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My, my, my! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40072945)

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Troll harder (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40073317)

Unban Ethanol-fueled

Re:Troll harder (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40073367)

Thank you, good citizen. Hell, even I was surprised that they banned my ass for good.

-- Drunken Bastard

Mormons Politicizing Religious Goals (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40072961)

Unfortunately America is controlled by Mormons which have a habit of twisting the law to support the religion. The good part is that Utah has the lowest unemployment. Coincidence?

Re:Mormons Politicizing Religious Goals (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40073017)

> "America is controlled by Mormons"

No, silly! Everyone knows that America is controlled by corporations.

Re:Mormons Politicizing Religious Goals (4, Funny)

Voogru (2503382) | about 2 years ago | (#40073055)

The corporations control the government. We should consider giving the government more power...to fix this... somehow.

Re:Mormons Politicizing Religious Goals (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40073595)

But many of the corporations are ran by Mormons that run the businesses based on Mormon teachings (i.e., CEO == Jesus, etc.). So, doesn't that qualify for control and the lack of separation between church and state?

Scary (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40072981)

First they store it for 2 years.. which is terrifying enough.. but we all know that will become 3 years.. then 4.. and before we know it, they'll be storying license plate scans for centuries.

At least future historians will have detailed records on who drove over Interstate 15 in southwest Utah in the 21's century. Of course they'll probably assume the plates represent our names or something..

Re:Scary (5, Funny)

game kid (805301) | about 2 years ago | (#40073101)

At least future historians will have detailed records on who drove over Interstate 15 in southwest Utah in the 21's century. Of course they'll probably assume the plates represent our names or something..

"I am not a free man, I am a number!"

--no, that can't be right...

Re:Scary (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40073395)

no, that's about right.

Scanning versus storage (1, Insightful)

bonch (38532) | about 2 years ago | (#40072987)

The two-year storage is really the only part that bothers me. But the actual scanning doesn't, for some reason. I guess because people see my license plate every day anyway. It's a pretty public thing already, and it's government-issued so the only data being collected that they don't already have is my location, but again, any driver on the freeway can already see me. I don't know; usually I'm against most kinds of data harvesting, but for some reason this doesn't bug me as much. I guess because driving in your vehicle is such a publicly identifiable thing anyway, and it is on government property.

Re:Scanning versus storage (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40073013)

What (kinda) worries me is when they start doing more analysis.

I imagine the technology isn't too far off (if not already here) to analyse video of and determine bad driving. Join that up with license plate scanning and a system where you are automatically ticketed on making any driving violation.

It's an interesting concept. I don't know if I'd want that or not. On a logical level it makes sense, but something about it puts me off. Obviously fines and such would need to be adjusted, as current penalties assume for every 1 violation you get away with 19 or so.. but even still, the absoluteness of it bugs me.

Re:Scanning versus storage (4, Insightful)

mirix (1649853) | about 2 years ago | (#40073171)

For me it's more... when you only had physical 'watchers', there was some amount of privacy via lack of manpower.

However, once it's electronic, there can really be no end to it, and there can be many installations. Then computers can then use the data to map out everything you do, something that couldn't be done in the past without the 'suspect' (victim?) noticing they were being tailed.
The other thing is once the system is up, the only difference between tracking suspects or parolees and everyone, is processing power.

Maybe it's a bit of a slippery slope fallacy. Seems to me if it's important enough, put a few agents out there and scan the plates manually. Might help the unemployment numbers too. It would probably end up being cheaper than whatever no bid contract they pay for the limited system would cost, and would keep it limited.

Re:Scanning versus storage (2)

bejiitas_wrath (825021) | about 2 years ago | (#40073777)

In the Anime Ghost in the Shell and the Robocop movies, the cars have barcode license plates. Predictive programming? How long until this is a reality?

Re:Scanning versus storage (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40073015)

"...and it is on government property."

You meant PUBLIC property. Right?


Re:Scanning versus storage (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40073159)

Freeways/interstate highways are actually funded my the military. They were actually put there to provide big enough lanes for tanks to travel on in case of invasion.

Re:Scanning versus storage (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40073231)


Here's another one:


Re:Scanning versus storage (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40073531)


Here's another one:


That Snopes article is about 1/2 truth and 1/2 bullshit. It starts off by making several glaring logical errors, then attacks anybody who might disagree with them. It doesn't actually get around to addressing the facts of the situation until the end, then glosses over the results.
Fact- The interstates were not intended to be used as landing strips. They got this right, at least.
Fact- The interstates CAN be used as landing strips for many types of planes. They got this wrong, and claim that a small private dirt strip which can land a Cessna is somehow going to be able to handle a high-powered jet or cargo plane. They also claim for some dumbass reason that using a few stretches of road as airstrips would result in closing down the entire interstate highway system, and ignore the possibility that ground units could simply move around areas which were being used to land aircraft.

It's your typical Snopes garbage- a little bit of truth mixed in with some arrogance and a few personal attacks on any who might disagree. In any case, the parent is fully correct- one of the two primary reasons for the interstates was to facilitate the movement of troops and military hardware, the other being to facilitate travel and commerce. I don't recall anything stipulating width for the purposes of moving tanks, however.

Re:Scanning versus storage (2)

digitig (1056110) | about 2 years ago | (#40073713)

None of which is even remotely relevant to the question of whether US highways are public or government property.

Re:Scanning versus storage (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40073861)

Other than being originally called the "Interstate and Defense system", and being able to accommodate heavy trucking, very little thought was put into facilitating troop movements. Go ask any highway engineer if he's done any calculations to determine how many tanks can cross a bridge, and he will laugh. (Very unlike cold war West Germany which had posted tank routes.)

Snopes is right here, idiots repeating the "highways funded by the military" legend deserve to be flamed.

Re:Scanning versus storage (1, Interesting)

mozumder (178398) | about 2 years ago | (#40073783)

No, it's still government property.

The public doesn't own government property. Government is its own independent entity. Government property is strictly governments.

The public is merely the board of directors for government that gives direction on how government may proceed.

Re:Scanning versus storage (5, Insightful)

rahvin112 (446269) | about 2 years ago | (#40073025)

The thing you aren't seeing and that isn't explained in the article is why. They want to cross-reference vehicles that come through the area multiple times and don't live in the area. They will then use this in a probable cause warrant.

Think about that and what it means.

Re:Scanning versus storage (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40073073)

OK, I'll bite.

Buy stock in FedEx?

Re:Scanning versus storage (5, Insightful)

jamstar7 (694492) | about 2 years ago | (#40073103)

The obvious implications bother me. When I was driving from northwest Arizona to western Colorado on a regular basis, I regularly drove I-15. Interstate highways are supposed to make interstate movement easier, right? So driving interstate now makes me a suspected drug smuggler? Just fucking lovely. How many thousands of vehicles drive I-15? Of those thousands, how many are drug smugglers? And how many of those drug smugglers are smart enough to change vehicles between runs?

Re:Scanning versus storage (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40073165)

Good god, you're right, the interstates ARE used for all sorts of anti-social criminal purposes like drug trafficing, opportunity seeking and the White Slave Trade!

This is unacceptable! They must be shut down immediately! THINK OF THE CHILDREN!

Re:Scanning versus storage (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40073629)

Actually, that is very un-American of you to suggest. Do you not realize that America has the largest black market in the world? These are services offered that are vital to our economic recovery. The goal is to slowly incarcerate the suspects to compete with foreign slave labour through private prisons. We need a steady flow of prisoners in order for our economy to retain cost-efficient production and avoid employment restrictions and any threats of potential unions seeking the benefit of health insurance. Be an American and support your local slave trade!

Re:Scanning versus storage (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40073415)

They want this so that if they stop you and you have any cash they can make the case for seizing it because you drive the road too often for it to be legit.

Re:Scanning versus storage (1)

zippo01 (688802) | about 2 years ago | (#40073105)

That wouldn't in itself justify a search warrant. But can give you a target to look into further.

Re:Scanning versus storage (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40073211)

...and if you're brown, or "mooslem,": mistrust government, or are someone the government doesn't like, or the sheriff, or some lowly deputy, or just plain an odd duck you're screwed.

That target just gives license for a fishing expedition and almost certainly you've violated some sort of law somewhere - it's pretty easy to make a criminal out of anyone given enough attention...you just hope it isn't you.


Re:Scanning versus storage (2)

zippo01 (688802) | about 2 years ago | (#40073305)

You are missing the fact that they already have mobile licenses plate scanners all over the country in police cars, as well as stoplight and speeding cameras, and automated toll booths cameras. I haven't heard all that much about profiling from them. Though I don't agree with speeding and stop light camera.

Re:Scanning versus storage (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40073287)

How would that not give you enough to get a warrant but give the authorities enough to go on to investigate further? Aren't those mutually exclusive?

Either somebody is doing something suspicious enough that a warrant or stop and search can be conducted, or they are not being suspicious enough to warrant (see what I did there?) that kind of attention. To say or think otherwise is doublespeak or doublethink.

Re:Scanning versus storage (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40073173)

Whoa, that's a HUGE leap you're making, and you admit it's not stated in the article at all.

You are literally claiming that they will issue a warrant for nothing more than driving through an area multiple times. I'd rather not be scanned, but that kind of fear-mongering is just absurd.

Re:Scanning versus storage (5, Informative)

rahvin112 (446269) | about 2 years ago | (#40073457)

I'm a resident of Utah. The DEA has been talking about stuff like this literally since the technology came about. I'm not surprised they are trying to get the Legislature to authorize it, they just had to get a county to buy in on it. But I am surprised it took them this long to find a county willing. Frankly the counties do a LOT of seizures and probably make a tidy profit on it but these cameras are going to make the DEA more interested in letting people pass so they can track them later so that's probably why it took this long to get a county to buy in on the plan.

I-15 through Utah carries something like 60% of the drugs coming out of LA destined for the rest of the country. You might not be familiar with the geography but unless you are willing to drive on 300+ miles of dirt roads I-15 and I-10 are the only reasonable transit corridors out of LA to the rest of the country (unless you wanna drive from LA to Sacramento and come out on I-80). There just aren't that many roads across the Sierra's and as a result I-15 before it reaches I-70 becomes an ideal candidate for scanning and data collection. All you'd need is another camera in Arizona before it reaches Phoenix and you could cover almost 100% of the drug traffic out of southern California.

As I said, there's been articles every few months in the local papers talking about it for the last couple decades with a big focus on tracking repeat users of the highway the last few years. As soon as I saw the report it wasn't hard to put it together.

Re:Scanning versus storage (1)

KhabaLox (1906148) | about 2 years ago | (#40073527)

I-15 through Utah carries something like 60% of the drugs coming out of LA destined for the rest of the country.

Who fucking cares? I mean, seriously. Why are we turning ourselves into (the bad parts) of the UK because people want to get high?

Re:Scanning versus storage (1)

gl4ss (559668) | about 2 years ago | (#40073685)

hmm. doesn't sound too ideal if it's the only place highway warriors(salesmen) will drive through too.

why not just start doing random house searches in cali - get the problem at it's source!

What is scanning plates going to change? (1)

dutchwhizzman (817898) | about 2 years ago | (#40073881)

They already know that the drugs are going by that road. They already stop people when they are suspect. What is scanning plates going to change, except violate peoples privacy and cost money? What is the cost-benefit analysis of this whole thing? If they don't publish that, it's either not researched and should never be allowed, or it's so bad that if it were to become public, nobody would want it to happen.

Re:Scanning versus storage (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40073971)

You are literally claiming that they will issue a warrant for nothing more than driving through an area multiple times

No he didn't, he claimed that they will use it to establish probable cause based on the pattern of your movements. And he's right.

Re:Scanning versus storage (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40073199)

No court in America would think that simply driving on a road was probable cause for a search without other details (drugs laying around in plain view, driver acting intoxicated, etc). I don't think this data will be used for that. I think it will simply be the camel's nose from the old saying "Once the camel's nose is in the tent, the rest of the camel will soon follow." Tomorrow the scanners go up on the interstate, next week they go up on local highways, next month they go up on all major roads. Only then will you see cases that begin with, "We followed your license plate via scanners from your house here in the good part of town, all the way over to the bad part of town where it circled around a few times, and then back to your house. Based on the reputation of that area as a place where prostitutes and drug dealers hang out, we're executing a probable cause search of your house and vehicle for prostitutes, drugs, and money."

It might not even start out like that. It might start out as something like, "John Doe, presidential candidate, was seen going to the bad part of town multiple times one week. Now, why would someone that lives in a fancy gated community want to go all the way down there late at night?"

Re:Scanning versus storage (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40073331)

There you have it, probable cause

Re:Scanning versus storage (1)

modecx (130548) | about 2 years ago | (#40073265)

And that's all the more stupid. Playing with the idea, for a potential drug smuggler, there's dozens of ways around this. The least of which is taking dissimilar routes; or how about just swapping out stolen license plates / numbers off of cars which haven't been moved for a while. The plates might even be returned before anyone was the wiser. That would be a real challenge, right?

They're basically counting on criminals to be stupid. Maybe that's enough for things to look good on the books, but it's going to be kinda useless at catching the real dangerous criminals: the smart ones. Unless that is, this camera system is to tied to the DMV database, with instant updating and real-time cross referencing, and perhaps a heuristics system capable of determining vehicle model--Person of Interest style. Would they tell us about that part? I find that thought infinitely more troubling than silly data storage concerns.

Re:Scanning versus storage (1)

wideglide (899100) | about 2 years ago | (#40073485)

Hate to break it to you - but most criminals ARE stupider than most policemen. Which implies that most criminals are terribly stupid.

Re:Scanning versus storage (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40073681)

Locate an iron rod; of any given length and diameter. Without lubricant, insert it into your rectum and oscillate vigorously.

Afterwards, find a piece of rope and urinate up its length.

You may wish to videotape the preceding and post to YouTube.

In other words, go fuck yourself and die, you cop-hating prick.

Hateful Regards,
Anonymous Cop

Re:Scanning versus storage (0, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40073791)

It will be a lovely day when someone puts a bullet in your head. Cops are no different than any other gang.

Re:Scanning versus storage (4, Insightful)

Fjandr (66656) | about 2 years ago | (#40073837)

Step up when bad cops do bad things and maybe people will respect good cops more. Until then, you can continue to expect this sort of opinion of you profession in general.

Even if you're an otherwise good cop, unless you're willing to out bad cops you are the problem.

Re:Scanning versus storage (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40073511)

That Rental companies will get searched regularly?

Re:Scanning versus storage (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40073643)

Interesting defense, but I'm not buying it. You're under arrest, Mr. Hertz.

Re:Scanning versus storage (2)

Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) | about 2 years ago | (#40073077)

It's a pretty public thing already, and it's government-issued so the only data being collected that they don't already have is my location, but again, any driver on the freeway can already see me.

Ignoring the storage issue, which is huge, your analogy to other drivers breaks down in that no other driver is able to view and process every single license plate on the road. It would be an unreasonable task for a human to look at the plate of every car that passes by and do anything meaningful with that information (like real-time searches of databases of plates) therefor using a camera and a computer to do it instead verges on, if not outright qualifies as, an unreasonable search.

If this is really important, they can get a warrant. Otherwise it is not important enough to justify pushing back our constitutional rights to freedom of travel and freedom from unreasonable searches.

Re:Scanning versus storage (1, Interesting)

bonch (38532) | about 2 years ago | (#40073223)

I don't know...I don't think freedom of travel and freedom from unreasonable search is being violated, as you're not being barred from travelling and you're not being searched. And I don't necessarily believe the legality of something changes simply because technology can do what humans can't. That argument of scale is the same argument the RIAA makes to differentiate P2P technology and 80s tape-trading.

I mean, I'd prefer not to be scanned, but I just don't feel like my rights are being violated if it's known that I'm driving down the freeway, after having driven through who knows how many security cameras at intersections and shown my photo ID who knows how many times just to buy beer and M-rated videogames. I'm usually an anti-government surveillance guy, but I don't feel as if I'm giving up more information than I usually do.

Not saying you're wrong or trying to argue with you. I agree with you that the storage is the real issue here, and I think two years is too long. The scanning itself just doesn't bother me for some reason. But it's possible other posters will make convincing arguments that could change my mind.

Re:Scanning versus storage (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40073337)

I agree that the storage is not an issue - but then what's the point of the surveillance of the public (lets call it what it is)? It seems to me that this will probably turn out to be like the naked body scanners at the airport - they say that people can't save any data off of the machines, but there was a leak of >100 pictures to the internet a few months after the major airports installed them. The problem is that the public has no way of verifying whether or not the images are being stored. And how useful is the data if the images are not stored and license plates correlated across time?

I don't think the data would be very useful unless you had a police officer there who could chase down cars with license plates registered to people who had arrest warrants on them, and police cars already have automated plate number recognition systems on their cars to recognize license plates and alert the officer. That also requires a police officer be physically present and willing to give chase, and willing to call the chase off if it gets too dangerous or is obviously stupid for some reason.

The idea of unmanned law enforcement sounds great until you realize that everybody being under constant surveillance is not a very American way of life, at least not in the past. Freedom-while-being-watched-to-make-sure-you-do-the-right-thing-and-punish-you-if-you-don't is not true freedom.

Re:Scanning versus storage (2, Interesting)

BlueStrat (756137) | about 2 years ago | (#40073683)

The idea of unmanned law enforcement sounds great until you realize that everybody being under constant surveillance is not a very American way of life, at least not in the past. Freedom-while-being-watched-to-make-sure-you-do-the-right-thing-and-punish-you-if-you-don't is not true freedom.


ED-209: "Please put down your weapon. You have 20 seconds to comply."

[Alarmed, Kinney quickly tosses the gun away. ED-209 steps forward and growls menacingly.]

ED-209: "You now have 15 seconds to comply."



Re:Scanning versus storage (2)

umghhh (965931) | about 2 years ago | (#40073197)

you lost already.

In Germany this already works - we have plate scanners to get fees for highway use. There is only very little law that prevents secret police (the one that is infiltrated by tea party like nazis it seems) from using this data and it seems that in factr they use it anyway. Drug laws in usofa are of course a good way to control population. it is funny that in a country of the free there is biggest prison population in the developed world. Are you really that free?

Re:Scanning versus storage (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40073473)

The short answer to your question is no. We are now of the corporations, by the corporations, for the corporations. Hold on to your freedoms, because the fact that we have the most powerful military in the world and the strongest political pull means that the same laws will come to your country sooner or later. And as an American, I am truly and seriously sorry about that.

Re:Scanning versus storage (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40073675)

you lost already.

it is funny that in a country of the free there is biggest prison population in the developed world. Are you really that free?

Two things happened: we brought in too many slaves, letting them breed indiscriminately, and we made illegal a harmless plant. Take care of those things, we take care of our prison population. As a white person, I'm perfectly free in the US unless I do something silly like try to go into a black infested city. Then it's almost as bad as a trip through Soweto.

Government property? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40073245)

Public roads are public property, not government property, however much they pay for maintaining it (with your tax dollars). Keeping track of where you've been, when, is not something to systematically collect and store without a good reason to do so, however much any member of the public could legally do so. There's a difference between being legal and being desirable, even though American culture likes to stand on the very edges of what's still legal and then loudly proclaim it's a god-given right to push the limits to the max. Law enforcement likes to do that just as much as any other American. As such there possibly should be a law against the practice of collecting as much data as you can.

The storing amounts to creating a movement database. What reasons does law enforcement have for such a thing? Merely "could come in handy someday" isn't good enough. In fact, the same goes for CCTV (increasingly so with progressing image recognition and tracking technology); just watch and signal I might buy, but storing? Not for a minute, sorry.

Theoretically, I might be okay with just having the cameras without storing, but it's becoming increasingly clear that very few governments indeed, and whether they're "democratic" or not seems to have little if any influence, can be trusted to have data and then keep their promises to not also store it. Just look at all the passenger data the TSA is demanding and then storing for tens of years. What do they want with all that? They're not going to distill anything useful from it, rather the contrary. At best, more lists of badness that don't actually keep anyone at bay except a couple innocents and the odd senator. This system won't be any different.

Re:Government property? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40073991)

Public roads are public property, not government property

You're quibbling over semantics. In both cases the property is owned ultimately by the taxpayer. The difference between calling it "government" and "public" is whether or not it's open to access by the general public or not. Your local Park is government property, it's also public property because it's open to the public. A nuclear launch facility, on the other hand, is just government property as the public has no access... even though it's still technically owned by the public.

Re:Scanning versus storage (3, Insightful)

Artifakt (700173) | about 2 years ago | (#40073829)

People see license plates all the time, but they don't normally stand there logging them for hours each day. There's lots of data where this sort of distinction matters.

For example, I'm a type 2 Diabetic. I voluntarily disclose this, and that I use a blood glucose meter and take Metformin for this condition. Now suppose somebody, perhaps working for my insurer, wants to check such data as what dates I refill my prescription, and what times of day I test, how regularly, and so on. There's several potential problems here. First, if my insurer wants to claim that I have been getting refills irregularly, it's in their interest if there's a law keeping me from stockpiling my medications, because that might be an alternate explanation for why I might go more than 1 month between refilling a 30 day supply.. Sure enough, there are an increasing number of drugs which don't have any known abuse potential, but that the prescriptions can only be filled for 1 month at a time, by law. The Insurers are not just interested in writing their rules so they don't pay out for multiple months at a time, but getting states to actually pass laws, which suggests to some of us that they really are trying to track such data in hopes of denying more claims. Then the test strips and lancets themselves are available in at least most states without a prescription. Again, there's no real abuse potential there, but again, there have been insurance lobbyists advocating making these items prescription only.
          This sort of data is routinely observed by at least one other person (the clerk) any time I buy these medications. There are other people, such as my doctor and the pharmacy staff who may sometimes ask me if I'm testing regularly or remind me about proper use of the test kit and meds. But the insurer isn't just some party that presumably has my interests at heart in the general sense, they are an entity which might want to deny a claim if my disease gets worse, by claiming that it's my own fault for not following all the instructions adequately. The insurers are also people who have already lobbied for laws which would make my life a little more difficult. (For example, if I have to get a prescription for test strips and lancets, then I have to contact my doctor if my meter breaks and tell him what type I buy as a replacement before I can start using it.). So, the individual data is not kept particularly private. I'd let my doctor or pharmacist see the meter and page through the log stored on its SD card pretty much on request, and if I have the insurer pay for my meds, they presumably can see what dates I've filled the prescriptions and could track them easily. Yet, there's still problems with the access they already have, and piecing together that data gives them the power to do some things that can be a real pain.Piecing together more data is likely to open up new areas for abuse.

Well...? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40073031)

I mean... License plates are state-issued, or can come from a state in a different country (in this case, mostly Mexico or Canada). I do not believe I would be so far off to say that this is fine. There's already things such as the TxTag and Tolltag in the state of Texas. That not only senses your RFID sticker on your windshield, but also takes a picture of your license plate.

The two-year storage seems to be what is at issue here. Who will have access to it and how secure is that database?

Change of Scope (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40073035)

Vehicle license plates exist as a means for police to identify a car when the need arises. Now we have automated systems that are capable of identifying EVERY car, and the police want to deploy these systems. This will result in millions of car license plate database searches on law abiding citizens with no probable cause. In addition, the police will record the time and place where each vehicle was spotted to develop a search-able intelligence database. They can perform queries on the database to identify frequent travellers, and harass them when their suspicions are aroused. Many police agencies are already doing this and it needs to stop.

Re:Change of Scope (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40073249)

Slashdot on government: "Identifying the vehicles of law-abiding citizens out in public? How dare they! Why, they might even construct cross-referencing databases. Where do I write my Congressman?"

Slashdot on Google: "Track my every move online? Eh, whatever. I willingly let Google index all my email, voice mail, web history, search history, purchase history, and even have no issue with them scanning my passwords on my mother's unencrypted WiFi to construct the world's largest information network. Anyone criticizing Google is just a troll."

State vs. Federal (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40073041)

State Departments of Transportation's already have this information available, do they not? It may vary from state to state slightly, but for the most part it's there. Does the DEA not have access to State vehicle registration information, or is this solely a need for at will, at moment, field identification?

Sounds like just another power push to a 'Big Government' , when the infrastructure and legalese is already in place. That and the DEA is fairly useless for its intended purpose. I fail to see how giving the DEA this authority, gets less drugs stopped at the border or causes politicians to either re-evaluation drug scheduling, or current criminilization status'.

Hooray for continued failed policy-making!!!

Sorry Utah! (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40073053)

Sorry Utah, but I think I will bypass your state from now on (if you allow this). All we need is more "Big Brother" surveillance of innocent people who may want to keep their whereabouts private, and for perfectly legitimate (and legal) reasons! Tracking plates on the US/Mexico border is only slightly less onerous, but hundreds of miles away from the immediate border area? That's simply frightful! FWIW, I was once the subject of a Mafia "contract". Needless to say, having my whereabouts known, and for no good reason, and that can be suborned by those whose interests are inimical to mine, is not something I would like to have happen... :-(

Re:Sorry Utah! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40073665)

Utah, isn't that one of those nearly empty states with nothing but desert and trailers?

If you're not a drug runner you have... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40073083)

Well if you're not a drug runner, then you have nothing to hide. Ergo since you have something to hide you must be a drug runner, so lets do away with the surveillance and arrest you already. Because the surveillance already bypasses your privacy rights ON THE BASIS THAT YOU ARE LIKELY A DRUG RUNNER.

Treat everyone like criminals and you reduced the benefit of not being a criminal. If you make the whole country like a jail, then freedom is reduced with it.

If a banker lends an entrepreneur money, is the banker creating the jobs, or is the entrepreneur? If the banker made less money wouldn't the entrepreneur be able to create more jobs? So why is Mitt Romney claiming to be a job creator and not a money lender?

Cut to the chase (5, Insightful)

Okian Warrior (537106) | about 2 years ago | (#40073119)

How will this turn out? Let's see.

Eenie meenie, chili beanie...

1) DEA installs license plate scanners.
2) Police stop vehicles which fit the profile of drug smuggling.
3) Years pass. Many, many innocent people's rights are violated
4) Police find drugs in some stopped car, arrests are made.
5) Plaintiffs complain that police had no right to stop car based on profile
6) ACLU gets involved. Appeal goes to federal court.
7) Federal court overturns conviction on grounds that there was no probable cause (or not - this is Utah, after all)
8) Case is presented to supreme court. Supreme court upholds 4th amendment, license scanning is not probable cause.

End result: Many innocent people have their rights violated, some arrests are made. About a million dollars are spent on one case to bring it to the supreme court, ten years of some person's life is lost fighting it, and eventually the DEA is told to stop. During this time, drug smuggling is reduced by less than one part in a million. Millions of dollars spent on the system are wasted when the system is dismantled.

For once, can we please just cut to the chase? Just stop these idiots from the beginning and a whole lot of people will save a whole lot of effort, money, time, and grief.

Re:Cut to the chase (4, Funny)

paiute (550198) | about 2 years ago | (#40073327)

How will this turn out? Let's see.

End result: Many innocent people have their rights violated, some arrests are made. About a million dollars are spent on one case to bring it to the supreme court, ten years of some person's life is lost fighting it, and eventually the DEA is told to stop. During this time, drug smuggling is reduced by less than one part in a million. Millions of dollars spent on the system are wasted when the system is dismantled.

Spending a million dollars is worth it if it prevents just one child's life from being destroyed by a marijuana joint.

Re:Cut to the chase (3, Insightful)

El Torico (732160) | about 2 years ago | (#40073693)

Spending a million dollars is worth it if it prevents just one child's life from being destroyed by a marijuana joint as long as that money is spent on my agency or company.

There, I fixed it for you.

Re:Cut to the chase (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40073939)

Supreme court upholds 4th amendment,

I damn near fell out of my chair laughing at that part.

Over in the Netherlands... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40073123)

... they have a bunch of those things (though the UK has more and more extensive storage, of course), and it turns out (very recently in the news) the data is Just Too Much to act upon when it signals wanted criminals passing the scanners. They're claiming they Just Don't Have The Manpower available to go after all that real-time data. One wonders how they then can possibly find the time to look in the backlog, which contains much, much more data, overwhelmingly pertaining to people who've done exactly nothing wrong. Curiously, they suddenly do have plenty manpower to pursue unpaid fines and taxes.

Ballot Box, Soap Box, Ammo Box (5, Insightful)

l0ungeb0y (442022) | about 2 years ago | (#40073167)

Ahh yes, the ardent American Citizen, sitting there able to do nothing while the value of his shitty little Dollar drops year after year, his bankers and his own Government are blatantly and openly lying and stealing from him and doing and end run around his precious Constitutional Rights with Wars on Ideas -- and he clings to his gun saying "I can at least defend myself from them if it gets to that" -- ignoring the fact that his Government has enough weaponry to quickly turn any Popular Revolt with their tiny pea shooters into a grease stain in short order -- and even then, every Congressional session has new talk of attempts to enact laws to outlaw or further restrict ownership of peashooters -- just be on the safe side, it is after all best not to take risks.

What will it take for the Ardent American to use his precious armaments? Government Cameras up his ass? Face it -- you are a slave. Go to school, pass your exams, indenture yourself to a College, get a job, be useful, be productive, consume and create more consumers to replace you.

Your rights, your guns, your "freedom" -- are little more than a novelty meant to humor you.
More wars on American Citizens have been enacted in the last 30 years than wars against enemy nations.

Re:Ballot Box, Soap Box, Ammo Box (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40073267)

"If I’m afraid to stand because I might lose something, or I’m afraid to go to jail, I’ve already lost, and I’m already in prison."

Re:Ballot Box, Soap Box, Ammo Box (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40073403)

More wars on American Citizens have been enacted in the last 30 years than wars against enemy nations.

That may be so, but that's not where the most people actually die of American government-sanctioned violence. Take a look, just as an example, at the death toll the "war on drugs" the Mexican government is waging, resulting in massive civilian bloodshed because the narcs have no incentive left not to and every incentive to just get rid of possible nuisances, on instigation of... the DEA.

That tendency to focus too much on your own little problems (and not solving them in the least) while at the same time meddling in the global game (and making it mostly worse), is a major reason the rest of the world is growing tired with America[tm]. I for one wouldn't mind the provincialism so much if it came without the global meddling. Or the global meddling if it came without the provincialism.

Re:Ballot Box, Soap Box, Ammo Box (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40073731)

Nut up and take some responsibility. Now it's the DEA's fault that Mexico is a land of thugs and criminals? What about centuries of graft and immoral lifestyles? Just like the Israelis and Palestinians can both go fuck themselves, I'm perfectly content if the Sinaloa and the Zetas want to kill each other. Just keep it south of the Rio Grande. (So yes, I guess I choose provincialism over global meddling.)

BTW, what holier-than-thou country do you hail from? Typical European looking down your nose at the US while ignoring 1000 years of your own history?

Re:Ballot Box, Soap Box, Ammo Box (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40073449)

Four boxes, not three.
Soap, ballot, jury, ammo; use in that order.

Re:Ballot Box, Soap Box, Ammo Box (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40073701)

Four boxes, not three.
Soap, ballot, jury, ammo; use in that order.

Like most gun nuts, he's in a hurry to start busting caps. Justice for Trayvon!

Re:Ballot Box, Soap Box, Ammo Box (1)

glorybe (946151) | about 2 years ago | (#40073755)

I see no privacy issues here at all. People driving in a community are very quickly noticed as qualified or in a non qualified frame of mind. Since this easily observable by the general public I think eveyone has the right to record as much as they can. Things done or said in front of others are not private issues at all. More and better truth will aid a nation in its survival.

Re:Ballot Box, Soap Box, Ammo Box (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40073815)

his Government has enough weaponry to quickly turn any Popular Revolt with their tiny pea shooters into a grease stain in short order

Guns and freedom nut here - it's actually quite possible to overthrow the US government starting with nothing but bolt action rifles.

It's the same problem as the US faces with any occupation, whether it's Vietnam, Iraq or Afghanistan. It doesn't matter how many planes and tanks you have. At some point if you want to control the an area you have to put boots on the ground and that's where guerrillas have their advantage. The army has to march around in uniforms and establish a front line for their territory; every local citizen is then taking pot shots at them at their leisure.

The army's morale goes to hell in those circumstances even when they're fighting "terrorists". You can't run a counter-guerrilla war for years. Troops living 24x7 wondering where the next bullet is going to come from and maybe kill them just like it killed their buddy yesterday will inevitably succumb to PTSD. That's assuming you have good enough PR to keep them believing in the mission. Just imagine how hard it'll be to keep them in line when they're trying to occupy their own country!

At some point some mid-level brass may questions the wisdom of the war and defect along with whatever weaponry they control. Now the guerrillas have access to a few tanks, planes, stingers or whatever. The same tactics work: as long as the local population is willing to hide and support them a whole detachment of tanks will never appear in view of the sky until all of a sudden they swarm out, attack the army, then disappear again before a proper attack can be coordinated or drones can pick them out. It would require a very extended conflict before something like this would happen. It's much more common that the occupying government / army gives up before things like this occur. However it HAS happened a few times and it's extremely demoralizing to a conventional army.

All of this assumes that the local population is solidly against the occupiers and the occupiers have a limited amount of willpower to continue. When it's a worst-case situation where the tyranny has gotten too extreme to go on ignoring it and the bread and circuses are running out that will be true, and such a civil war might succeed. Morale, not technology, wins wars. Having overwhelmingly better armament holds morale up for a while but highly motivated guerrillas who can attack at their convenience have massive advantages against demoralized conventional armies who have to hold territory.

Re:Ballot Box, Soap Box, Ammo Box (1)

sociocapitalist (2471722) | about 2 years ago | (#40073851)

My belief is that the value of the dollar has been dropped deliberately to help the US compete globally with regards to both manufacturing and services, what there is left of it. A strong dollar policy sounds good but it's not what the US needs at this point.

Enough already! (5, Insightful)

blindseer (891256) | about 2 years ago | (#40073195)

Time to get rid of the DEA. They just keep thinking up new ways to pry into our lives with the intent of ensuring the purity of our bodily fluids.

Billions of taxpayers' dollars are spent on these yahoos every year and what do we get out of it. Money spent so they can set quotas on the production of medicines and now we have shortages of common medications for the treatment of pain, cancer, and mental disorders.

This has become very personal for me. Because of an injury from military service I get my pain medications from the VA clinic in town. Since it is a controlled substance the physician can only write a prescription for 30 days. The VA clinic has a nice system where I just go into the office and fill out a form so the physician can rubber stamp the prescription for the next month. I have it pretty good, relatively. I feel sorry for those that don't have their meds handed out by the government.

I can only imagine what someone else, someone that has to get the same meds by a private entity. Would they have to schedule a face to face examination with their physician every month? How much would that cost them? Would any insurance company cover the cost of providing a monthly supply of narcotics for a condition that existed prior to signing up for their plan?

I've heard all kinds of horror stories of people that happened to be caught with a pill bottle, or just a single pill, that a friend or relative had forgotten and was left in the person's car, bag, or apartment. Being in the possession of a controlled substance is a felony unless prescribed by a physician. Do we want people to get sent to prison for five years because they tried to return the medicine that grandma left behind when she went to see her grandkids?


"I'll be quite frank with you," Oda told Newcomb. "A lot of us in Utah don't trust the federal government."

I don't either. They claim they won't use this database for the purpose of enforcing misdemeanors and traffic violations. What keeps them from breaking this promise?

I can see this already, someone will get the great idea of placing two of these along a well traveled route. The computers controlling these two stations will be connected together to compute the average speed of anyone that crosses these two points. Automatic speeding tickets will get mailed to the registered owner of the vehicle.

I'd bet dollars to donuts that would happen if these license plate scanners get installed.

Re:Enough already! (2)

shiftless (410350) | about 2 years ago | (#40073373)

Exactly bro. You nailed it. The laws on the books have been way past the point of tyranny for years. Now they are tightening the screws down tighter and tighter, trying to extract (translation: rob at gunpoint) more and more money from the people to pay for their fucking mistakes. This shit is about to blow up in their faces, big time.

Re:Enough already! (1)

TubeSteak (669689) | about 2 years ago | (#40073441)

Time to get rid of the DEA. They just keep thinking up new ways to pry into our lives with the intent of ensuring the purity of our bodily fluids.

Keep the DEA, decriminalize the drugs.
We'll still need the DEA to control perscription drugs, but that isn't what the traffickers are mostly interested in moving across borders.

Re:Enough already! (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40073621)

Don't you think the underworld will move on to other things if drugs are decriminalized? ie. more occurrences of robberies, home invasions, etc... I'm happier with the drug people doing their drug smuggling and leaving me alone.

Re:Enough already! (1)

Fjandr (66656) | about 2 years ago | (#40073877)

Maintaining huge criminal enterprises requires a lot more cash than can come from robbing people and houses. They can only exist where large black markets exist. The only markets they will move on to are other existing black markets. If you believe otherwise, there's not much point in conversing with you on the subject.

Re:Enough already! (1)

blindseer (891256) | about 2 years ago | (#40073787)

If we decriminalize the drugs then what exactly is the role of the DEA? I thought the regulation of prescription drugs was the FDA's job.

If there is no crime in access to what are now controlled substances then would not all these controlled substances become over the counter products? No more regulated than Tylenol?

I suppose one could argue that the drugs would still need a prescription but no longer be a controlled substance but I'm confused on how that would work. If there is no crime in providing the drugs without a prescription then what is going to stop a pharmacy from providing the drugs to whomever asks for them? There would be a profit motive to provide the products, just like how there is profit in selling bananas. There's money to be made in the trade of bananas, they are legal to sell without a prescription, therefore many people with buy and sell them.

If you argue that there would still be criminal penalties for having these substances without a prescription then they have not really been decriminalized. I feel like I'm missing an important point. Please enlighten me on what I'm missing here. Mostly I'm trying to see what role the DEA plays in a government that already has the FDA and Department of Agriculture to regulate the quality of the products we consume as food and medicine.

I've got a better idea (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40073225)

Defund the DEA. People are going to get high. The only real questions are:

1. How much will it cost to treat the health problems that causes?

2. Who is going to get the money from selling the drugs?

With DEA in place, the answer to question (2) is that the DEA splits it with cartels and some small fish while raping the taxpayers. The health costs are born by everybody else. Tax the drugs, and the money will go to the government. Drugs (in the absence of health problems) become a profit center for the people instead of a cost center. Of course some drugs will cause health problems. The rational answer to that is to figure out how much it costs to treat them, and tax the drugs enough to pay for them. There might be some cases where the tax isn't enough to cover the health costs without re-creating the black market. I really don't know. Does the tax on alcohol, a perfectly legal substance, come anywhere near paying for the health problems it causes? What about the health problems it helps (yep, it's good in moderation). Some drugs will bring in more money than they cost in health problems (pot). Others will probably not bring in much money, but will cause serious health problems (meth). It ought to be possible to balance the cash cows against the losers. First things first though:

Defund the DEA, reduce the national debt, quit wasting time, money, and lives.

Re:I've got a better idea (1)

Fjandr (66656) | about 2 years ago | (#40073943)

Does the tax on alcohol, a perfectly legal substance, come anywhere near paying for the health problems it causes?

More than likely not even close (it would be monstrously difficult to actually quantify the cost), but the economic and societal cost of its continued illegality were crystal clear.

It's too bad the Supreme Court decided Congress can regulate items which don't impact interstate commerce because their lack of impact is an impact by its absence (they are masters at torturing logic).

The Constitution used to treat Congressional authority as untrusted, so the permissions were set to allow, deny. The Supreme Court has since reversed that, so any crap coming out of Congress makes it through unless it clearly and explicitly is disallowed. Even then it may be packaged in such a way that it can wreak havoc for years before being contained.

Obviously... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40073247)

You must be up to no good if you're repeatedly, willingly going to Utah.

Re:Obviously... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40073491)

I'll only have to worry if they put scanners on the highway near Disneyland. ;)

I feel safer already (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40073289)

This is a great idea. It can also be used to catch illegal aliens who are stealing American jobs and selling drugs destroying our American way of life. Not only will it help to catch ilegal aliens, it will also help to build up cases against other types of criminal ilk that belong behind bars. These "privacy advocats" are just a bunch of bleeding heart liberals who care nothing about our country but rather more about letting criminals get off easy.

Why ask permission? (1)

Lost+Found (844289) | about 2 years ago | (#40073293)

Sounds like the DEA's biggest mistake was asking for permission. They should just go ahead and authorize themselves to do the scanning and data retention, and then shove it down our throats for our own good.

So basically the DEA is asking for what .... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40073323)

... is already available and in use.

Or do you think that speed/red-light cameras as well as "toll both scanners" are just dumb devices that some Joe Blow spends the day looking at on a monitor?

Even the 2 year retention is not new either. That is probably the minimum amount of time the data is kept by default.

Re:So basically the DEA is asking for what .... (1)

AHuxley (892839) | about 2 years ago | (#40073821)

They want legal cover and immunity. The ability to share the info, keep it, track it.
No "walking" to court years later.

Perhaps they're actually trying to catch the Pedos (1)

Lohrno (670867) | about 2 years ago | (#40073399)

You know, the Mormon Fundie types that marry 14 year olds and such...

Fine. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#40073429)

My horse has no license plate. Can these cameras read a brand?

I have the solution (1)

Sentrion (964745) | about 2 years ago | (#40073639)

Copyright the sequence of letters and numbers that comprise your license plate. Even better, make it a personalized license plate that demonstrates your creativity, and have the design officially recorded at the US Copyright Office. If you have the ability, develop an algorithm that you can fit on a license plate, and submit your application to the US Patent Office. Now set up a website where users pay a fee to see your license plate. Make it known to the world that you will be engaging in performance art by driving to undisclosed locations where a few lucky souls can see your license plate for free. You are doing this to generate interest in your license plate contents and market your copyrighted works and/or patented technology. Occasionally invite random people to take "live" pictures of your performance art for a flat fee of $500 per photo. Sell mass-marketed photos of your license plate online for a nominal fee of only $250 per download.

Now, fast forward to the moment you "discover" that various public and private servers are storing and possibly even distributing the copyrighted and/or patented information without your express written permission and without paying the artist/inventor. Whine to the MPAA, RIAA, or some other B.S.AA and take the sons of bitches to court for $20k per violation.

New "law"? (1)

xenobyte (446878) | about 2 years ago | (#40073705)

Not unlike Godwin's Law about discussions degenerating until someone pulls the nazi card, a similar law exists about privacy-eroding proposals: Argue that in order to protect us against something really bad (terrorists, drug trafficking etc.) we need X, which incidentally also can help protect us against some almost as bad (kidnappers, violent criminals etc.), thus offering us a multi-pronged tool that can do almost everything against the badness out there. Scared people loves stuff like this.

But they forget to mention that it will also be very effective in taking away more of our freedom by offering a tool that essentially can be used to both track our movements and serve as the core of a police state where the authorities in real time came can both identify, track and easily apprehend people for anything, like parking tickets, expired license plates and everything else you put your mind to. Flag someone and you can easily locate and thus apprehend this person.

We tried it in Holland and it doesn't work (1)

JasperKlewer (1600041) | about 2 years ago | (#40073841)

We tried this in Holland and it doesn't work. 200 cameras were installed in the Rotterdam region to catch criminals, but a recent report showed the police is NOT using it to catch criminals, because they have no clue what to do with all the data. Instead, the tax agency uses the cameras to go after unpaid taxes and unpaid fines. Installing cameras will lead to function creep, loss of privacy and another step towards a POLICE STATE. See http://translate.googleusercontent.com/translate_c?hl=en&ie=UTF8&prev=_t&rurl=translate.google.com&sl=auto&tl=en&twu=1&u=http://frontpage.fok.nl/nieuws/543419/1/1/50/kentekencamera-pakt-geen-criminelen.html&usg=ALkJrhhvrWudYxPDrjVbVqd1Tm317MS-MQ [googleusercontent.com]
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