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Police Departments Using Car Tracking Database Sworn To Secrecy

timothy posted about 3 months ago | from the you-swear-not-to-reveal-the-swearing-in dept.

Privacy 202

An anonymous reader writes "Vigilant Solutions maintains what they claim is the nation's largest database of license-plate tracking data, 'LEARN' (Law Enforcement Archival and Reporting Network). But when a law enforcement agency signs up to use the database, they are sworn to keep it secret. The reason? They are quite clear about that: 'to prohibit users from cooperating with any media outlet to bring attention to LEARN or LEARN-NVLS.' So, they're tracking you (they're tracking everybody)... but they don't want you to know. The agreement, uncovered by the Electronic Frontier Foundation, states: You shall not create, publish, distribute, or permit any written, electronically transmitted or other form of publicity material that makes reference to LEARN or this Agreement without first submitting the material to LEARN-NVLS and receiving written consent from LEARN-NVLS. This prohibition is specifically intended to prohibit users from cooperating with any media outlet to bring attention to LEARN or LEARN-NVLS. Breach this provision may result in LEARN-NVLS immediately termination of this Agreement upon notice to you."

Immediately after WIRED published the story, though, the agreement mysteriously changed. The secrecy provision is still there, but the statement that it's 'specifically intended' to prevent the media attention has vanished."

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202 comments

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Same exact issue with "stingray" cell interception (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46929233)

They sign extensive NDA's and "must" deny any and all usage of stingray cell phone "dummy tower" interception devices also - why?

Probably because they have hidden legal ramifications that haven't been addressed. Why else?

Re:Same exact issue with "stingray" cell intercept (5, Insightful)

davester666 (731373) | about 3 months ago | (#46930055)

They learned from the best, namely criminals. If nobody talks, everybody walks.

track this (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46929239)

f1rst p1ss

Hiding shady practices (5, Interesting)

stewsters (1406737) | about 3 months ago | (#46929259)

The obvious answer is because it is probably illegal to track everyone everywhere, but as long as knowledge of this doesn't go to the court no one will know and therefore they cannot rule it illegal. That's sketchy.

Re:Hiding shady practices (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46929375)

As long as the cameras are in public places or with the approval of the owner of private garages, it is not illegal. It is however very unwanted by the populace, as those who have nothing to hide don't want to feel like they need to start hiding.

While this is (hopefully) just an aggregation of public data, it can (possibly) provide the same scale of information that GPS trackers on every car would provide (at somewhat lower detail). Since a warrant is needed to GPS a car, this sort of thing has entered a legal loophole that its owners do not want closed.

Re: Hiding shady practices (1)

countach (534280) | about 3 months ago | (#46929957)

If everyone knew these cameras are around probably people would start shooting them and vandalizing them.

Re: Hiding shady practices (1)

plover (150551) | about 3 months ago | (#46930449)

As they're mounted onto police cars, I doubt that most people are inclined to vandalize them.

These are camera systems that read license plates of every vehicle the cop passes (or that passes the cop). They pop up a note to the officer: "REVOKED LICENSE" "EXPIRED PLATE" "STOLEN VEHICLE", etc. The officer can then decide what course of action to take.

Re:Hiding shady practices (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46930201)

As long as the cameras are in public places or with the approval of the owner of private garages, it is not illegal. It is however very unwanted by the populace, as those who have nothing to hide don't want to feel like they need to start hiding.

While this is (hopefully) just an aggregation of public data, it can (possibly) provide the same scale of information that GPS trackers on every car would provide (at somewhat lower detail). Since a warrant is needed to GPS a car, this sort of thing has entered a legal loophole that its owners do not want closed.

I would strongly disagree, just because they are there in public, their not being used by the public. We've seen cases where people are using laptops and mini recorders to record someone committing a felony, or to protect themselves, only for it to be throw out as evidence, and the person charged with illegal wring tapping.Or police and Da's abusing their powers threatening legal action against the people that are trying to expose or protect themselves.

A cops car mounted camera is in view of the public, but try and get the video from an incident and you get a run around and that includes those lucky or wealthy enough to afford some type of half brained lawyer. Even worse your tax money is going into these systems, and your not allowed access to it. To me that is the very definition of illegal wire tapping or surveillance. You have the right to know if your being recorded, and where that data is being stored, and the right to have uninterrupted access to anything that could be used against you before any hearing or trial.

But I keep forgetting for those /. users that aren't 'criminals' or poor folk, and or they never have had to deal with any 'legal' situation, thinking they live in a 'free country'

Re:Hiding shady practices (4, Insightful)

LifesABeach (234436) | about 3 months ago | (#46930365)

With respect to evidence in the state of California, if ALL, and I mean ALL evidence that the state/county have is not made available, then the Defendent can move for a Mistrial.

Re:Hiding shady practices (1)

kilfarsnar (561956) | about 3 months ago | (#46930927)

reply to undo moderation...

The less obvious answer (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46929409)

Is that they don't actually respect the people they are supposed to respect (the people whom they supposedly work for). In conclusion, law enforcement doesn't work for you, even though you are forced to fund them.

Re:Hiding shady practices (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46929491)

It's perfectly legal to track vehicles on PUBLIC roads. Don't like it build (and pay for) your own road network.

Re:Hiding shady practices (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46929633)

You're obviously a NWO shill.

my monkey says "hi!" (1)

Thud457 (234763) | about 3 months ago | (#46930439)

If you're not doing anything wrong, you've got nothing to hide...

Re:Hiding shady practices (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46929659)

It's perfectly legal to track vehicles on PUBLIC roads. Don't like it build (and pay for) your own road network.

Even if it is legal that doesn't mean that the government should spend a single cent on it.

Legal or not is a red herring. Same thing with Guantanamo. Even if some people argue that the constitution doesn't apply it still doesn't mean that the taxpayers money should be used for it.
The only difference is that if it is illegal someone should go to jail for it. Regardless the action should stop.

Re:Hiding shady practices (0)

xevioso (598654) | about 3 months ago | (#46930335)

Except that some of us believe that holding dangerous terrorists against their will, many of whom are Islamic fundamentalists who have repeatedly expressed the desire to do harm to non-Muslims in General, Americans in particular, and their captors in even more particular, is actually a GOOD thing and not a bad thing. It is NOT the US's fault that Pakistan, Afghanistan and other countries don't want these guys back.

Re:Hiding shady practices (4, Insightful)

currently_awake (1248758) | about 3 months ago | (#46930499)

if you have proof they are terrorists then have a trial and lock them up. if you don't have proof then you are just guessing, and nobody should be locked up because of that.

Re:Hiding shady practices (5, Insightful)

gerardrj (207690) | about 3 months ago | (#46930657)

If you are going to detain people under the laws of the United States then those people should have all the protections of the laws of the United States. Equality under the law is a core principle.

The people in Guantanamo are not terrorists. They are accused terrorists. Send them to the international criminal court for proper trial.

Re:Hiding shady practices (4, Informative)

plover (150551) | about 3 months ago | (#46930567)

There's a significant difference between "notify" and "track". The primary purpose of these systems is to identify every license plate, look up any violations, and alert the officer. You won't be flagged in the database if you aren't already in trouble for something else.

Regarding tracking, that's a different problem. Our state has a law that prohibits the police from retaining the data for more than two days. They are not permitted to build up a database of my comings and goings. Two days gives them enough leeway to search for "hot" problems, such as an amber alert, or fleeing felon.

It may not be a technically perfect solution to privacy, and could be subject to abuse, but I think it's a workable compromise.

Re: Hiding shady practices (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46929805)

But I did pay for my own roads through taxation, these are the public roads you speak of.

Additionally any surveillance installations if not made public must have been negotiated and decided on privately; misuse of public funds.

If you want George Orwell's highways build your own private roads for that.

Also if my tax dollars pay for it, 'it' should be publicly known and approved of.

There is no national security threat greater than secret public funded government operations. The 'terrorists' are laughing at us just like Putin is.

Re:Hiding shady practices (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46929807)

It's perfectly legal to track vehicles on PUBLIC roads. Don't like it build (and pay for) your own road network.

Wrong.

In the US, anyway, government entities are supposed to get a warrant before they can attach a surreptitious GPS tracker to any car, even one used solely on public roads.

Re:Hiding shady practices (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46930081)

Because you're connecting a tracker to someones car. What this program amounts to is nothing more than just writing down what cars you see from the public roads, something anyone can do with just a pen and paper, nothing is illegal about it. Only they implement it on a very large scale and combine the data which gets very good results.

quantity has a quality all its own (1)

Thud457 (234763) | about 3 months ago | (#46930547)

As has been pointed out numerous times before, things are a bit different when automation allows you to start doing things in bulk that before you could only do on a small scale.

It's one thing for a police officer to check you tag as you drive by. It's a different kettle of fish when you have a tireless machine check every tag that passes by 24x365 and record the data so it can correlated with other electronic overseers all over town.

Re:Hiding shady practices (1)

kilfarsnar (561956) | about 3 months ago | (#46930949)

It's perfectly legal to track vehicles on PUBLIC roads. Don't like it build (and pay for) your own road network.

Yeah, I'll get right on that...

Re:Hiding shady practices (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46929651)

These license plate scanners are already everywhere in my city in Virginia. At least half the police cruisers seem to have them now. I've noticed the cruisers sitting on the sides of the road at certain choke points in the highway (bridges, tunnels), just scanning every car that passes by. There also seems to be a proliferation of private companies around here scanning as well. Just the other day I was walking to my car at my university parking lot, and I noticed some unidentified civilian vehicle with scanners mounted front and back slowly driving by all the parked cars.

It has gotten so bad, the city has hired a private company to drive around scanning every vehicle [hamptonroads.com] looking for people who are behind on paying their state property taxes! If your license plate shows up as a "hit" they will put a boot on your car regardless of where it happens to be. Doesn't matter if you just happen to be out getting groceries, your car is now stuck there until you settle your tax debt. Better call a taxi.

Re:Hiding shady practices (2)

Culture20 (968837) | about 3 months ago | (#46929871)

Just the other day I was walking to my car at my university parking lot, and I noticed some unidentified civilian vehicle with scanners mounted front and back slowly driving by all the parked cars.

That's probably the parking authority company your university contracted to make sure people are paying for their parking spots. Of course, such a vehicle should be marked as from said company.

Re:Hiding shady practices (2)

Jane Q. Public (1010737) | about 3 months ago | (#46930087)

The obvious answer is because it is probably illegal to track everyone everywhere, but as long as knowledge of this doesn't go to the court no one will know and therefore they cannot rule it illegal. That's sketchy.

It is VERY illegal in my state for Law Enforcement to even look up a license plate without probable cause of at least a traffic infraction.

And yes, LEOs have gotten in serious trouble for it. They are required by law to log their requests for information, with a reason for the request.

And by the way, in case you were wondering: no, license plates and owner information are not a matter of public record here. They are protected by law.

Re:Hiding shady practices (1)

gerardrj (207690) | about 3 months ago | (#46930693)

They aren't looking up the owner info, just keeping track of where the license plates are seen.

Severla months ago... (5, Interesting)

MouseTheLuckyDog (2752443) | about 3 months ago | (#46929345)

I posted a story which did not get accepted about John Filippidis. A guy who had a concealed carry permit in Florida. He did own a gun, and left it at home when on a trip. Maryland police stopped him and detained him for a couple of hours for no reason.

This was made possible be datamining efforts and automatic license scanneres.

Very chilling.

Re:Severla months ago... (5, Insightful)

PeeAitchPee (712652) | about 3 months ago | (#46929437)

Link to the story [tbo.com] that you mention from the Tampa newspaper. Maryland police forces have a history of this kind of thuggish behavior; even now, the MD State Police and the MD press (e.g., the Baltimore Sun) refuse to comment or even report on this story.

Re:Severla months ago... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46929681)

When you drive into Maryland on the freeway, there are usually 3-4 highway patrols waiting right at the state line, just plain fishing. Never seen that in any other state..

Re:Severla months ago... (3, Interesting)

PeeAitchPee (712652) | about 3 months ago | (#46929789)

The state refuses to stop spending more money each year than the last and is addicted to revenue like it's crack. According to Gallup, 67% percent of Marylanders think their state taxes are too high and 47% of them literally want to leave the state. [baltimoresun.com]

Re:Severla months ago... (1)

Hodr (219920) | about 3 months ago | (#46930497)

There was a online poll this week hosted by the largest radio station for Southern Maryland, and the result was >94% would leave if they could.

Re:Severla months ago... (1)

tomhath (637240) | about 3 months ago | (#46930251)

Probably more to do with a Latino appearing man with Florida plates than a gun permit. Police along the East Coast assume drug mule when they see that combination.

Re:Severla months ago... (2)

PeeAitchPee (712652) | about 3 months ago | (#46930291)

RTFA. The guy had no gun in the car (he'd left it locked up in FL), but the MD cops knew he had a CCW permit even though he was a FL resident . . . how is that possible?

Re:Severla months ago... (1)

ShaunC (203807) | about 3 months ago | (#46930521)

RTFA. The guy had no gun in the car (he'd left it locked up in FL), but the MD cops knew he had a CCW permit even though he was a FL resident . . . how is that possible?

States sharing this information is nothing new. If you get pulled over and have an outstanding warrant from most any other state, the cops will know about that, too.

Re:Severla months ago... (0)

PeeAitchPee (712652) | about 3 months ago | (#46930677)

Ahhh, so you're saying it's legal for MD to automatically scan license plates, cross-check them with FL's published list of CCW permit holders, and make a traffic stop *solely* based on that info? That's what happened here, and that's a clear violation of the 4th Amendment.

Re:Severla months ago... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46929493)

This is exactly why most forms of databases are a bad idea. The national gun registry or whatever, this thing, it's all the same. It's just another way for someone to potentially abuse their power.

Re:Severla months ago... (-1, Flamebait)

xevioso (598654) | about 3 months ago | (#46930385)

He had a gun with him when he went to Maryland but not the permit? Well maybe he shouldn't have. Not all states are as batshit-crazy about allowing gun nuts to openly carry guns. You sure can't do that in my state either. That's a good thing. Less guns means less gun violence.

Re:Severla months ago... (4, Informative)

PeeAitchPee (712652) | about 3 months ago | (#46930549)

Reading comprehension not so good, eh? He left the gun in FL at home, locked up . . . MD cops stopped him, somehow knew of his FL permit (there is absolutely no legal way they could have, of course), and ordered him to give them them the gun. When he wouldn't (couldn't) comply, they proceeded to tear the car's contents apart on the side of the highway and terrorize his family. So just maybe, it's the "batshit-crazy" behavior of jack-booted fascist states like Maryland that is the problem here.

Re:Severla months ago... (1)

richpoore (925284) | about 3 months ago | (#46930651)

No, he didn't have the gun with him, he left it in Florida.

Re:Severla months ago... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46930673)

R E A D T H E A R T I C L E. He left the gun at home (in another state). You keep the RTFA comment stero-type alive and well.

Re:Severla months ago... (1)

hink (89192) | about 3 months ago | (#46930747)

Can you read? Slow down and actually look at the letters on the screen instead of using your apparent anti-gun stance to assume he was "waving the gun in the air driving down the highway".

Give this government MORE MONEY!!! (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46929425)

Obviously our government wouldn't do crap like this if only we'd tax the rich more.

They need MORE MONEY!!!!

Re:Give this government MORE MONEY!!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46929567)

since when has taxes had any relation to how much the government spends?

Re:Give this government MORE MONEY!!! (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46930217)

It's not about taxing the rich "more", it's about taxing them PROPORTIONALLY instead of almost not at all as a percentage of their incomes and wealth.

Maybe think before you post.

Paranoia (2, Insightful)

meta-monkey (321000) | about 3 months ago | (#46929431)

The elites are terrified. Absolutely terrified of the middle and lower classes.

Re:Paranoia (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46929483)

The elites are terrified. Absolutely terrified of the middle and lower classes.

Quickly! We need another school shooting to try to get civilian disarmament passed!

Re:Paranoia (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46929653)

None of you numbnuts is going to shoot an elite or a government official. You're all talk. Gun fags.

Re:Paranoia (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46929673)

The elites are terrified. Absolutely terrified of the middle and lower classes.

I wouldn't say terrified. They may be concerned, but they're pretty handily marginalizing us more and more each political cycle. It's pretty fascinating, actually, if you can look at it objectively. They're doing their best to push the middle class into the lower class, and cut off as much lower class assistance as possible, and they're doing it with the full and, in same cases, rabid backing of about half of those people, who believe they are doing exactly the opposite.

Re:Paranoia (1)

MightyYar (622222) | about 3 months ago | (#46930099)

I thought maybe you were on to something until you mentioned cutting off the lower class assistance. Entitlements have never gone anywhere but up. It quite obviously can't go on like that, but even suggesting that discussion gets you labeled a Teabagger.

Re:Paranoia (1)

meta-monkey (321000) | about 3 months ago | (#46930325)

Entitlements are up for the elderly (they are the rich, and they vote), but that's about it. For the poor, food stamps are cut, the minimum wage isn't keeping up with inflation, etc. They're getting the shaft.

Re:Paranoia (1)

MightyYar (622222) | about 3 months ago | (#46930491)

"Welfare" has moved to social security disability. And you are ignoring Medicare. True, food stamps are down, but that is only because the temporary bump from the bailout expired.

Re:Paranoia (1)

Jason Levine (196982) | about 3 months ago | (#46930663)

The only people who do this are OPPOSITE_MAJOR_PARTY_THAN_THE_ONE_I_VOTE_FOR. People from PARTY_THAT_I_VOTE_FOR never do this and actually care about me and about HOT_BUTTON_ISSUE_MAJOR_PARTY_PRETENDS_TO_BELIEVE_IN_TO_GET_VOTES.

Slimy (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46929433)

Just another slimy company doing slimy things.

So (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46929463)

I drive on PUBLIC roads but I don't want people to know where I drive. Don't like it then take a bus, walk or ride a bike. Some people really need to live in another country for a while to understand what REAL civil rights violations are like.

Re:So (5, Insightful)

BiIl_the_Engineer (3618863) | about 3 months ago | (#46929513)

I drive on PUBLIC roads but I don't want people to know where I drive.

It's not that I don't want random people to be able to see me; it's that I don't want my own fucking government to install surveillance equipment everywhere (or hire others to do so) in an effort to automatically track my location. Stop equating the two, you dumb shits.

Some people really need to live in another country for a while to understand what REAL civil rights violations are like.

The mere fact that the situation could be worse does not mean that what's happening is not bad. What terrible logic.

What, you got punched in the face? That's not a bad thing, because starving people in Africa are much worse off!

Re:So (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46929623)

- - I drive on PUBLIC roads but I don't want people to know where I drive.

  - It's not that I don't want random people to be able to see me; it's that I don't want my own fucking government to install surveillance equipment everywhere (or hire others to do so) in an effort to automatically track my location. Stop equating the two, you dumb shits.

Exactly- there's a difference between "you're in public, so people can see where you are" and "Let's build a tracking system that tracks EVERYBODY, ALL THE TIME, and keeps the records FOREVER."

Re:So (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46929919)

As crazy as your statment is. The sad part is it is coming. This system will be here quicker than most will even noticed.

Re:So (1)

MightyYar (622222) | about 3 months ago | (#46930131)

"Let's build a tracking system that tracks EVERYBODY, ALL THE TIME, and keeps the records FOREVER."

And even that is better than, "and only certain people can look at the data, and certain people don't get tracked."

It just sets us up for abuse of power, and for marginal returns on public good.

Re:So (1)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | about 3 months ago | (#46930115)

I drive on PUBLIC roads but I don't want people to know where I drive.

It's not that I don't want random people to be able to see me; it's that I don't want my own fucking government to install surveillance equipment everywhere (or hire others to do so) in an effort to automatically track my location. Stop equating the two, you dumb shits.

On our dime, no less.

Re:So (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46930427)

Don't like it then take a bus, walk or ride a bike.

A very temporary reprieve. Face recognition is getting better and HD cameras are getting cheaper. Within five years you'll risk being tagged every time you leave the house. Access to the cameras in malls and on sidewalks will be leased out and used to catch criminals^W^W track dissidents^W^W serve personalized ads.

In fact, road-side license plate cameras would be a great way to build a database of faces mapped to license plates.

Is this news to anyone? (1)

koan (80826) | about 3 months ago | (#46929477)

Did you think the high def cameras at intersections and over freeways were for one purpose only?

Yes (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46930041)

Systematic secrecy about even the existence of dragnet surveillance tools in use with regular police forces? Even if it wasn't news to anyone whatsoever, it deserves mention until the last one of them ceases to exist. Basically all of the (US) government is currently in a race to the bottom of ever newer lows, and they show no signs of slowing down. Rather the contrary. And what is an unaccountable police force, an unaccountable government to the people they're supposed to "serve and protect"? Well?

Republican Global Warming LIES!!! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46929531)

Within a few years winter snowfall will become a very rare and exciting even. Children just aren't going to know what snow is," Dr David Viner, Senior research scientist at the climatic research unit (CRU) of the University of East Anglia - Mar 20, 2000

Oh wait, that's not a Republican, that's a progressive. Oh well.

Even more chilling (5, Insightful)

Mike Ice (3637719) | about 3 months ago | (#46929549)

Vigilant Solutions warehouses the data themselves and then sells it back to the consumer (in this case the local Police). To avoid ACLU issues with the Police actually handling the data they prefer to use Vigilant. Vigilant also shares this data between these organizations - so much so that going with any other system becomes pointless for the local Police. In short - one corporation having access to the location and habits of much of the country and then controlling access to that data. Chilling indeed.

Re:Even more chilling (4, Interesting)

MightyYar (622222) | about 3 months ago | (#46930177)

I really detest this separation courts have setup between "private" corporations and the government. The government gives corporations their charter and is the only reason they exist in the first place. So we decide that we can't trust our elected officials with certain responsibilities, and so instead we give those same responsibilities to unelected owners. Oh, and those owners can then take that taxpayer money and funnel it right back to the elected officials in the form of legal "lobbying".

The whole thing is batty.

Looks like (4, Interesting)

MitchDev (2526834) | about 3 months ago | (#46929573)

a prime target for "Anonymous"....

nice try (2)

slashmydots (2189826) | about 3 months ago | (#46929601)

"specifically intended' to prevent the media attention has vanished"
Not on the internet it hasn't. Someone's PR department needs to learn how the internet works. They should go to Internet 101 class taught by adjust instructor, Barbara Streisand.

Not surprising (4, Insightful)

Registered Coward v2 (447531) | about 3 months ago | (#46929679)

Companies that collect data are realizing people are starting to become more aware of what is being collected and concerned about it. If enough people start making noise Congress may start to act and limit what can be collected and how it is used.

Here is an interesting thought for the real lawyers that read /. Could someone subpoena their data, if say they were charged with crime? Or as part of a civil suit? I would think not since they really aren't a part of the issue unless perhaps the cops used the data to locate someone or in an investigation, in which case this layman's view is the accused would have a right to see the data and challenge its use.

Of course, if the data became public imagine the havoc it could cause. Could you see the reaction from an elected official if a reporter showed up and asked them very detailed questions about their comings and goings?

Bingo (1)

AF_Cheddar_Head (1186601) | about 3 months ago | (#46929973)

Can't wait until some enterprising Divorce lawyer uses this data to prove the husband is having an affair or a Criminal lawyer uses it to alibi his defendant.

All this data should be available for discovery if the Police have access to it an yes I realize that Divorce is civil.

doubtful (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46930009)

Of course, if the data became public imagine the havoc it could cause. Could you see the reaction from an elected official if a reporter showed up and asked them very detailed questions about their comings and goings?

Wont ever happen, they control the media too.

Cops not complaining about secrecy! (5, Interesting)

redelm (54142) | about 3 months ago | (#46929751)

Please note, the cops probably _like_ the "restriction": When asked, it permits them to answer "It is illegal for us to comment", or to a judge "We cannot comment without violating our contractual agreements." People forget judicial privilige overrides contract.

As as posted by another, the use of the database could violate some data-protection law saying "access to this DB is restricted to ongoing official police investigations". Not to stalk GFs! So LAPD has to make the bogus claim that all drivers in LA are under investigation. Otherwise, their use of the tag readers tied to the tag owner DB would be illegal. And everything found thereafter excluded from evidence as "fruit of the poisoned vine". Not something they want to contemplate.

Wow this is news! (0)

digitalPhant0m (1424687) | about 3 months ago | (#46929781)

Immediately after WIRED published the story

. I didn't know WiRED was still in business.

Hiding your tag while on private property (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46929893)

Is it legal to hide your tag while on private property? What about privately owned, but publicly accessible property? I assume that it's legal to own a street-legal car even if it doesn't have tags, as long as its not driven on public streets. Therefore, I should be able to park my car in my driveway, hide the tag, and it would be perfectly legal. Can I do this in parking garages, or lots? If I park my car in the lot outside a shopping mall, and hide the tag, is that still legal? If it's legal, then what do you think is the likelihood that it will get towed?

Re:Hiding your tag while on private property (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46930019)

Note that when I say "street-legal" I mean that it meets all safety and emissions requirements, not that it's registered with the DMV. This excludes most dune buggies, dirt bikes, Formula One cars, etc.

Re:Hiding your tag while on private property (1)

HornWumpus (783565) | about 3 months ago | (#46930031)

Unlicensed cars on your property are almost always a code violation. If you own a track only car you are supposed to park it in the garage and _not_ work on it there.

Because you are going to make your property a junk yard/race shop or something.

I back them into the driveway and blatantly ignore the 'no working on cars' rule.

Re:Hiding your tag while on private property (1)

Overzeetop (214511) | about 3 months ago | (#46930241)

Only if you live in a city, for the most part. If you stop sucking off the teat of the Man and move out into the country there are no bullshit regulations like this.

Re:Hiding your tag while on private property (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46930127)

Yeah, it's called a garage. Idiot.

Re:Hiding your tag while on private property (2)

plover (150551) | about 3 months ago | (#46930759)

In Japan, the "love hotels" supposedly have someone who will go out to the parking lot and hang black covers over the license plates, so that a spouse driving by won't spot the cheater's car.

Apparently, that's another area where we're falling behind the Japanese.

Re:Hiding your tag while on private property (1)

jittles (1613415) | about 3 months ago | (#46931007)

Is it legal to hide your tag while on private property? What about privately owned, but publicly accessible property? I assume that it's legal to own a street-legal car even if it doesn't have tags, as long as its not driven on public streets. Therefore, I should be able to park my car in my driveway, hide the tag, and it would be perfectly legal. Can I do this in parking garages, or lots? If I park my car in the lot outside a shopping mall, and hide the tag, is that still legal? If it's legal, then what do you think is the likelihood that it will get towed?

Don't do this in California. They will tow your car right out of your driveway if they can see from the street that it does not have a license plate. It happened to my parents once, and it took a lot of legal wrangling to get the car back without paying insane fees and fines.

Of course it's vanished! (1)

ilsaloving (1534307) | about 3 months ago | (#46929905)

Immediately after WIRED published the story, though, the agreement mysteriously changed. The secrecy provision is still there, but the statement that it's 'specifically intended' to prevent the media attention has vanished."

It doesn't much matter anymore, now does it? :)

Explain to me why this is bad (1)

Nukenbar (215420) | about 3 months ago | (#46929979)

If there is a warrant out for my arrest or a license plate is reported stolen, this system can identify it much faster than the old license plate over the radio. This seems to allow the police to stop and question people that they have a legit reason to do so, not just because you crossed the center line.

Re:Explain to me why this is bad (1)

plover (150551) | about 3 months ago | (#46930963)

The identifying of an offender is one thing. However, once identified, it can be stored in a database and analyzed.

This is also good and bad. If a crime is discovered after the fact, the database could be searched to narrow down a list of suspects and confirm alibis. Catching actual felons and exonerating the innocent would be a very legitimate use of the data. But if the mayor hears about a meeting of the Anti-Corrupt-Mayor's Coalition, and knows the plates of the leader's car, he can identify other cars that frequently park near the leader, wherever and whenever the leader goes somewhere. Now he knows the identities of the whole group who is opposing him, and he can target them with extra special attention.

It gets worse, in that not everyone identified is necessarily a felon. Is failure to pay property taxes on time a felony? Is a misdemeanor possession of marijuana worthy of a traffic stop? An unpaid parking ticket?

There need to be limits on both the acceptable uses and the storage of the data, and there need to be prosecutions of those abusing the equipment to violate the trust of the public. His Honor, the Corrupt Mayor in the example above, should go to jail. A cop who stops a car for one unpaid parking ticket should be held accountable.

Finally, we have to decide what to do about private companies. Some bounty hunters troll shopping malls in tow trucks, looking for cars with broken leases or who have defaulted on their payments. Is this legit? According to our laws, it is. What about trolling for cars legitimately belonging people who simply owe a bank some money? If your Mercedes is paid for, should I be able to tow it away because you owe $10,000 on your Visa card?

Re:Explain to me why this is bad (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46930967)

And then we get into the, your license plate was found at X time at Y location at the same time and place as Z happening. Now you have to PROVE your innocence instead of them having to PROVE your guilt. Unfortunately what they do to innocent people these days is ridiculous....

At least they're learning (1)

Snotnose (212196) | about 3 months ago | (#46930047)

Problem is, what they learned is mass surveillance is OK, what's not OK is letting the sheeple know about it.

Freedom of Information Law (2)

Mansing (42708) | about 3 months ago | (#46930053)

I'm sorry, but no Connecticut (US) municipal department can sign an agreement like that without being in violation of the Connecticut Freedom of Information Act. Any contract, documentation, or proposal involving a municipality is a public document.

Too bad, so sad.

When you get a car you MUST (0)

Stan92057 (737634) | about 3 months ago | (#46930187)

When you get a car you MUST get a license which the state keeps on file....when you get a car you MUST get a car license which the state keeps a record of name address you know the drill. So what is the problem? They have a data base of ALL car license ..big stink-in deal anyone can get the records they are public. When you get car insurance you must by state law give them your driver license,car serial number,Car License number.Whats the big stinkin deal??? but don't Get pissed off they are collecting cell phone calls, don't get pissed they collect emails from every living person in the USA . Get pissed they are wasting tax payer dollars to get a data base they ALREADY own......Priorities people Priorities.

Re:When you get a car you MUST (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46930481)

The records you mention only tell the government which vehicle you own, and where you live. This company is tracking every car, keeping records of where they were located, and when.

Re:When you get a car you MUST (1)

hink (89192) | about 3 months ago | (#46930877)

They aren't replicating the DMV records. They are storing data and can map where your car has been driving. BIG difference. When they start giving out tickets because you "obviously" had to exceed the speed limit to be seen at intersection X and then 3 minutes later at intersection Y. Then they will question everyone the scanners saw within 1/4 mile of a murder. They might start pulling over people seen entering gun store parking lots. (Actually, they probably do that already)

This is TOTALLY okay (1)

Overzeetop (214511) | about 3 months ago | (#46930221)

I presume since this is slashdot, home of the libertarian and capitalist freedom thinkers, we're all okay with this.

This is a private company, not the government - so it should be totally okay. Since they're a corporation, the free market will decide if it's willing to keep them around. If nobody buys their stuff, they'll go out of business, and if you don't like what they do you can organize a boycott.

That's how the free market works, right?
Right?

Homework (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46930839)

I presume since this is slashdot, home of the libertarian and capitalist freedom thinkers, we're all okay with this.

This is a private company, not the government - so it should be totally okay. Since they're a corporation, the free market will decide if it's willing to keep them around. If nobody buys their stuff, they'll go out of business, and if you don't like what they do you can organize a boycott.

That's how the free market works, right?
Right?

I suggest you look up and read about the definitions of these terms:
Capitalist.

Libertarian

Free Markets

And lastly "Crony Capitalism"

Because all of this (the article) is the work of anything but Libertarians.

Libertarians have a cow over state surveillance.

Free Markets? More like Crony Capitalism - the vendor knew someone and lobbied to have this done to boost their business. I seriously doubt bids went out for the lowest bid. Kind of like how the prison companies work - and they also are the ones lobbing to keep our draconian drug laws.

And all of this gets by because people are stupid enough to think that "if yo do nothing wrong, you have nothing to worry about" and "this makes me feel safe".

We are not a free country.

Start logging and publishing all police plates (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46930323)

Time to start logging, tracking, and publishing all plates that enter police department property, with special focus on employee parking and any/all government plates.

We'll see how quickly they change from arguing that being in public means losing privacy.

Call them at 925-398-2079 to learn more (3, Informative)

sandbagger (654585) | about 3 months ago | (#46930391)

I'm sure Vigilant Solutions will be happy to talk to you.

This story sounds like crap to me (2)

American Patent Guy (653432) | about 3 months ago | (#46930553)

There's this legal principal in the U.S. called "Sovereign Immunity" having its origins in the colonial (and earlier english) law. A citizen can't sue the king without his consent, the king here having become the government.

Suppose some P.D. did disclose the existence or the data from this database. Do you really think Vigilant Solutions is going to take them to court? Even if there was a statutory authorization permitting the P.D. to be sued, a secret corporation probably would not want their database to become publicized in a trial. Add to that that the judge probably wouldn't favor an out-of-state entity over the P.D. who keeps him safe in his bed at night. Good luck enforcing that "secret" contract provision...

Something smells funny here ... it kind of smells like "stupidity".

Source of Income (1)

seven of five (578993) | about 3 months ago | (#46930615)

As with red light cameras/speeding cameras, car tracking data can be a source of income by state/local gov't. The Feds have restricted the sale of DMV data [epic.org] , so governments are looking for alternatives.

How About Using Public Transportation? (1)

Streetlight (1102081) | about 3 months ago | (#46930751)

If you are concerned about protecting you privacy of movement, why not use public transportation? In many places it's cheaper and more convenient than owning a car provided it goes where you want to go, has a good connections and passes near-by your residence frequently. In my town, however, public transportation is very poor and and certainly in most rural areas and smaller towns is not available. On the other hand, with all these public cameras and facial recognition technology unless you wear a mask and wig, your whereabouts at a bus stop, subway station, cab or bus can be known.

Wait until NVLS's database(s) are hacked (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46930859)

...only a matter of time

Meta (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#46930883)

Sorry for meta.

Slashdot is not effective for politics. Reddit is a better way to bring call-to-action responses to the top.

All hail the EFF (1)

Powys (1274816) | about 3 months ago | (#46930915)

Seriously, in the last few months I have increasingly heard about the awesome work the EFF keeps doing. Where would be be today without them? They really could be one of the most important charities/non-profits out there right now. Please do support them in any way you can.

(note, I am not affiliated with the EFF)
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