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Judge Allows L.A. Cops To Keep License Plate Reader Data Secret

Soulskill posted about three weeks ago | from the you-can-trust-us dept.

Privacy 108

An anonymous reader writes: A Los Angeles Superior Court judge has ruled that the Los Angeles Police Department is not required to hand over a week's worth of license plate reader data to the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF). He cited the potential of compromising criminal investigations and giving (un-charged) criminals the ability to determine whether or not they were being targeted by law enforcement (PDF). The ACLU and the EFF sought the data under the California Public Records Act, but the judge invoked Section 6254(f), "which protects investigatory files." ACLU attorney Peter Bibring notes, "New surveillance techniques may function better if people don't know about them, but that kind of secrecy is inconsistent with democratic policing."

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Good (1, Insightful)

Enry (630) | about three weeks ago | (#47790803)

Information about the collection techniques (what gets captured, how long are they held, when and how are they destroyed, etc.) is fine. The actual videos themselves may contain enough information to track vehicles over a period of time. We don't really like it when cops do it, why should we let everyone else have this data?

I don't necessarily like knowing cops have this information but so long as there's rules over the collection (see above) I'm okay with this. If the EFF and ACLU (whom I normally support) wants the actual data, they can get their own OCR license plate cameras and drive around.

Re:Good (4, Insightful)

LifesABeach (234436) | about three weeks ago | (#47790835)

A classic case of, "we know better than you?" Now by LAPD. The only thing that was omitted was, "it's for the children."

Re:Good (0)

Anonymous Coward | about three weeks ago | (#47790937)

A classic case of, "we know better than you?" Now by LAPD. The only thing that was omitted was, "it's for the children."

At least the LAPD nominally works for the people.

A murderous stalker doesn't.

So yeah, there are some really good reasons to keep the raw data from the public.

Re:Good (3, Insightful)

NoNonAlphaCharsHere (2201864) | about three weeks ago | (#47791005)

In the first place, I think "The LAPD notionally works for the people" is closer to the truth. Judged by their behavior over the last 50 years, they should be classified as a 'street gang'.

Secondly, if the public doesn't have access to the data they're collecting, then we don't know what they're collecting. It sounds like a tautology, but the difference is very real. All we have is their word on what data they are and are not collecting, or when that changes (increases). Without access to that data, we are forced to take them at their word. Which is probably OK, because we all know that "cops never, ever, ever lie".

Re:Good (4, Insightful)

spire3661 (1038968) | about three weeks ago | (#47791221)

NO there isnt. Better to have Liberty than security in this case. I want ot see what the police see, i want to know what the police are doing. We do not hire them to be secretive. ENOUGH with 'state secrets'

Mod parent up. (4, Insightful)

khasim (1285) | about three weeks ago | (#47791297)

This is the primary problem with "sweep" methods of collecting data.

There MIGHT be something in the "sweep" that MAY impact a current investigation. Therefore, ALL of the "sweep" must be hidden from the public.

Bullshit. There shouldn't be any difficulty in removing the items relevant to a current investigation. The should already be tagged as such. Then release the rest.

This is a case of "collect EVERYTHING and keep it FOREVER" so that anyone can be backtracked if the cops or politicians decide to do so. Where do you go? When? Why? What do you do there?

Now imagine a cop tracking your daughter to find out where she lives and where she works and which college she goes to and when she leaves for classes.

Re:Mod parent up. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about three weeks ago | (#47792113)

Now imagine a cop tracking your daughter to find out where she lives and where she works and which college she goes to and when she leaves for classes.

They don't need access to a license plate database for that. A quick credit check will reveal all.

Re:Mod parent up. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about three weeks ago | (#47792811)

Missing the point abit there. To get access to credit history (actual usage, not just a credit score), requires a warrant. Having a database like this means anyone with access to it has information that a stalker or serial rapist could only dream of. Cops are people too, and there are some very bad ones.

The Mutual Agreement (0)

Anonymous Coward | about three weeks ago | (#47793633)

James looked up after the annoyingly unnecessary banging of the door from his visitor. The Detective was quite brazen; which made it all the less believable he was actually the one obtaining the payment for these side jobs. But, James knew direct questioning would have been suicide and damaged his chances of this fragile relationship continuing. He had put too much effort, and risk, into the "project" already, so additional risk was wise to avoid.

James hushed him before he was able to bellow whatever smartass greeting he dialed up today. There were about fourteen.
"It will print out in about 8 seconds.", he blurted out almost as quick as he whipped around to his keyboard and ran the program.

TrackerQueryParse
Input Parameters Completed
Running Final Query:
SELECT c.Name, c.Sex, c.Age, c.Ht, c.Wt, c.Address, w.Work, co.Address, co.ClassStartTime
FROM Citizen c
LEFT OUTER JOIN Work w ON c.Id = w.CitizenId
LEFT OUTER JOIN College co ON c.Id = co.CitizenId
WHERE FindParentProperty(c.Id, 'Hangouts.Slashdot.Id') = 'khasim'

The Detective looked pleased. James ran a second instance of the program.

TrackerQueryParse
Input Parameters Completed
Running Final Query:
SELECT c.Name, c.Sex, c.Age, c.Ht, c.Wt, c.Address, w.Work
FROM Citizen c
LEFT OUTER JOIN Work w ON c.Id = w.CitizenId
WHERE c.Address = '10114 Center St'

"And there is your assignment." James was as matter-of-fact as possible, but still fully succeeded in pissing off the Detective.
He grabbed the sheet, looked at James, and the typically boisterous Detective muttered his only word of the conversation.

"Fine."

Re:Mod parent up. (1)

gl4ss (559668) | about three weeks ago | (#47794133)

they shouldn't even remove the current investigation tags, because that is information about the current investigation(removing them, if the perps see that their license plate should be on the list since they drove on the same street with every other plate on the list...).

but the real thing is that everyone is under current investigation and maybe the full sweeping of license plates tells that you're visiting a shady neighborhood to either bang some lady or to score some crack and therefore further investigation is needed.

Re:Good (4, Insightful)

spire3661 (1038968) | about three weeks ago | (#47791257)

You dont hold on to Liberty by viewing every citizen as a murderous stalker.

Re:Good (3, Insightful)

SeaFox (739806) | about three weeks ago | (#47791409)

At least the LAPD nominally works for the people.

A murderous stalker doesn't.

So yeah, there are some really good reasons to keep the raw data from the public.

The LAPD "working for the people" is an implied mission statement. It doesn't really reflect the individuals within the organization. A murderous stalker has to actually follow you to gather info, but the LAPD officer doesn't now, that's the only difference. The police can just as easily abuse a power given to them, kinda like those NSA agents using their expensive taxpayer-funded gear and government-granted spying powers to stalk love interests.

There was a scene in the 1997 movie Men In Black where Tommy Lee Jones's character is sitting at a console with high-resolution satellite imagery available in real time, and he zooms in on a suburban home, and the women he once knew years ago, and the thinks of the life he could have had if he hadn't become a MIB agent. That movie was so long before all this War on Terror and domestic spying BS no one recognized that scene for what it was.

Re: Good (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about three weeks ago | (#47791437)

Is this your only argument? A movie? Not even good SF. And I thought Matrix and V nutters were bad.

Re: Good (1)

Lunix Nutcase (1092239) | about three weeks ago | (#47791975)

No he also mentioned the NSA LOVEINT abuses.

Re:Good (1)

Noah Haders (3621429) | about three weeks ago | (#47791997)

At least the LAPD nominally works for the people.

Bahahahahaha lapd works for lapd. Sometimes they incidentally reduce crime, sometimes they intentionally commit crimes.

Re:Good (0)

Anonymous Coward | about three weeks ago | (#47792143)

A classic case of, "we know better than you?" Now by LAPD. The only thing that was omitted was, "it's for the children."

At least the LAPD nominally works for the people.

A murderous stalker doesn't.

So yeah, there are some really good reasons to keep the raw data from the public.

Right, because keeping raw data from the public stopped Ted Bundy, Gary Ridgway and Jim Jones just to name a few....

Oh wait, it didn't.

Re:Good (1)

Attila Dimedici (1036002) | about three weeks ago | (#47792339)

At least the LAPD nominally works for the people. A murderous stalker doesn't.

Except of course when that murderous stalker works for the LAPD (or another police department): http://www.philly.com/philly/n... [philly.com]

Are there rules for retention and resale? (4, Insightful)

attemptedgoalie (634133) | about three weeks ago | (#47790883)

Is that police department going to find a new revenue source by selling license plate and location data to somebody else who will correlate and sell location likelihood information to businesses/marketing companies?

Is that police department allowed to tag me in their system even though I wasn't under investigation, but passed their camera? Then, do they get to keep that info forever? What happens if I'm accidentally put on the no-fly list, I mean watch list, I mean...

These guys can't be trusted to type my license plate correctly, now they get permanent location, tracking and correlation? No.

I'm no Luddite, but this stuff and its related capabilities makes me want to go live in the woods. I'm sick of this.

Re:Are there rules for retention and resale? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about three weeks ago | (#47790917)

Just wait until the non-criminal cases start. These records will be great for divorce cases.

As for how long they'll keep the data... as long as possible because thats what makes it useful.

Re:Are there rules for retention and resale? (1, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about three weeks ago | (#47790929)

Do it back to them.

Install a tracker in front of your house, sell the information online and post a sign in your yard with the website url.

Move right in front of a Police station and record all their activities. Same thing.

Develop an app to track current police car location.

Build a facial photo database of cops and then build an app that automatically watches for their faces from a camera that scans crowds.

Big data goes both ways my friend. I know it pisses you off, it pisses me off. But I'd rather get technical but lawful and do it right in their faces.

Re:Are there rules for retention and resale? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about three weeks ago | (#47790961)

What an asshole.

Re:Are there rules for retention and resale? (0)

ganjadude (952775) | about three weeks ago | (#47791091)

you know this doesnt sound as crazy as it did the first time i read through it. I mean the truth is that we have to play the game, not just bend over and take it. if a bunch of people in this town set up a camera by their home, and with a little script had it pull the cop car data we could get a real time network of where all cops are.

we could take the rest of the plate data and sell it to google, who im sure would love access to that and make some money (which we will need due to the increased police harassment you know follows anytime someone stands up to authority)

I guess the point is to watch the watchers until they stop invading our rights.

Re:Are there rules for retention and resale? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about three weeks ago | (#47791171)

But that would be against the law. "Mine and thine"

Re:Are there rules for retention and resale? (1)

ganjadude (952775) | about three weeks ago | (#47791247)

how so? their argument is that the data is public because its out in public, if they drive by my home, they are in public, as such I am able to take that data and do what I want with it. Use their reasoning against them

Re:Are there rules for retention and resale? (1)

sumdumass (711423) | about three weeks ago | (#47792355)

Some states have banned the use of LPR devices outside of law enforcement and others have banned the sale of information outside of within the company who collected it and established affiliates.

Repossession companies have used this tech going on almost a decade now. Some states don't bother with regulating it, some areas the repo companies self regulate and only sell to Law enforcement or other repo companies. Some states outright forbid it outside of law enforcement. It's a moving target and the laws on it change all the time. In some states, the laws are being challenged by the ACLU and other entities in court.

But beware. Even with their claims of legality being the exact ones you might use, remember how many other people were arrested, had their electronic devices taken and in some cases destroyed for little more than recording cops in public areas. Hell, one guy spent a weekend in jail and had to pay out the nose for a defense because his home security system records the cops.

Re:Are there rules for retention and resale? (1)

ganjadude (952775) | about three weeks ago | (#47792877)

Im talking about asoftware based system that can take photos of plates, make, and model. any camera with good enough res for some orc functionally. One we have the plate we geotag the info to a google maps overlay. Really basic stuff. No personal information given, if one wants to take it a step further and tap into a database of said information, thats on them....

Re:Are there rules for retention and resale? (1)

ganjadude (952775) | about three weeks ago | (#47792881)

Ocr... not orc haha

Re:Are there rules for retention and resale? (1)

sumdumass (711423) | about three weeks ago | (#47793703)

What you are describing is the same thing as a LPR (license plate recognition) setup which is the same thing as the cops use sans the ability to check warrants and crap. Repossession companies have been using this for years, there are even nation wide networks of hits like this that can be searched in case a repo has moved to another state.

Some states are at odds with civilians doing this and made it illegal. Some states make only sharing the information to anyone but employees and law enforcement illegal. Some states that made it illegal are fighting court battles over it right now. What you described would be covered depending on what state and the laws if any about it.

Re:Are there rules for retention and resale? (1)

ganjadude (952775) | about three weeks ago | (#47794885)

i got you now. see, thats a problem to me, if the government can collect the information, so should the people, if the people cannot, the government should not

open source big brother (1)

witherstaff (713820) | about three weeks ago | (#47794963)

I can see some need for an open source big brother. Would either need mounted cams in a yard facing a roadway or a way to mount a cam on the dashboard to read in real time, a smartphone version of the russian drive cam. . There are a few good uses and after that it'd be full of some cyber stalking style info. But if we have already lost our privacy why shouldn't we know what the government knows?
  • Neighborhood watch would be helpful - why is this car creeping around the area?
  • With enough coverage could weed out thieves / crimes
  • Find your elected official and see if they hang around strip clubs
  • Find where the kid dating your daughter is hanging out
  • Employee said they were home sick? Find his plate and see if it isn't out driving around
  • Auto tag police plates and have real time police locations. Like those spot a cop apps to help avoid tickets
  • Road rage allows for revenge. Get cut off? Find where the car is parked and put bird seed all over the car, etc

The sky is the limit on what would be created with an open source backend DB. I'd put a cam in the yard and in my car. Sounds amusing.

Re:Are there rules for retention and resale? (1)

spire3661 (1038968) | about three weeks ago | (#47791241)

I have thought A LOT about tracking the police across the city as a citizen. IN my city all I would need is a camera on some key intersections and i could track every marked car in real time. I figured i could do it with less than $3000 in hardware.

Re:Are there rules for retention and resale? (1)

ganjadude (952775) | about three weeks ago | (#47791295)

marked? im looking at all plate data, Im hoping to locate the unmarked!

Re:Are there rules for retention and resale? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about three weeks ago | (#47792681)

Becomming a monitoring asshole is your solution? Seems you are no better than those you monitor. You also rape rapists - considring that morally right because tit-for-tat?

Re:Good (2)

drinkypoo (153816) | about three weeks ago | (#47790895)

I don't necessarily like knowing cops have this information but so long as there's rules over the collection (see above) I'm okay with this. If the EFF and ACLU (whom I normally support) wants the actual data, they can get their own OCR license plate cameras and drive around.

If the data doesn't belong to us, then the cops don't work for us, either. If we don't have a right to the methodology, then we're simply slaves.

Re:Good (4, Insightful)

jklovanc (1603149) | about three weeks ago | (#47791481)

Do you think your income tax records, water usage, parking ticket record, etc should be publicly available? All of this is data owned by the government. Just because it belongs to the people does not mean that is is not private data and should not be available to the public.

Re:Good (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about three weeks ago | (#47791903)

> income tax records, water usage, parking ticket record, etc should be publicly available?

Since we're playing the "Should game", income tax shouldn't be paid to the public anyway, so moot.

Water usage is monitored by a private utility company in my area, but yes.

Parking ticket record. Yes.

Re:Good (1)

jklovanc (1603149) | about three weeks ago | (#47793259)

Since we're playing the "Should game", income tax shouldn't be paid to the public anyway, so moot.

That is a cop out and you know it. Income taxes are collected so deal with it.

So you think all data the government has on someone should be available to the public? How about medical records of veterans? What about a driver's license current address? Stalkers would love that information. There is a lot of information in government hands that I and many others would like to keep confidential.

Re:Good (0)

Anonymous Coward | about three weeks ago | (#47792287)

> Do you think your income tax records, water usage, parking ticket record, etc should be publicly available?

No. Furthermore I think the police should be required to get a full-blown warrant in order to get access to it, and then only on a case-by-case basis.

If the cops don't need a warrant, then why should the public be any different?

> All of this is data owned by the government.

I disagree. In many cases it is retained by the government. But it is still my information. Just because the laws have not caught up with the technology of Big Data doesn't make their use of it just "because they can" the right decision for society.

We are at a point where government (and any other sufficiently powerful organization) access to so-called public data needs to be constrained. The ACLU is in the process of trying to constrain it, this court ruling is an implicit acknowledgement that the ACLU is correct because they've said that this information is sensitive. Its just that the court and people like yourself haven't worked through the implications to arrive at the fact that if it is sensitive then police access needs to be restricted too.

Re:Good (1)

jklovanc (1603149) | about three weeks ago | (#47793235)

Read the post I was replying to. I was not advocating making that information public. The poster thinks that license plate scans, and any other information in government hands, should be available to the public. I disagree.

Re:Good (0)

Anonymous Coward | about three weeks ago | (#47793357)

I did read it. The problem is the context. The context here is the ACLU getting access to it for the purpose of proving that it should be restricted.
Enry's point is that it is ok for the cops to have it but not for groups outside of the cops who are working to take it away from everyone, including the cops.

It is faux-concern.

Re:Good (1)

Enry (630) | about three weeks ago | (#47791525)

Methodology is different from what is collected. Methodology is "every police vehicle has a model ZRX-9000 plate scanner which is always in operation with results sent in real time to a central server where the data is held for 30 days unless a court orders it to be held longer as part of an ongoing investigation/trial". We should absolutely have that information. But just like I don't need to see your tax records, I don't need to see where you've been for the past week.

Re:Good (1)

ganjadude (952775) | about three weeks ago | (#47791063)

very simply I want them to write in a way so that it checks if the car matches the hit list, if yes, marks it, if not, discards it. there should be NO retention of a plate if its not on the "hit list"

Re:Good (1)

fustakrakich (1673220) | about three weeks ago | (#47791205)

Every car matches the "hit list". The DMV put it there.

Re:Good (1)

Enry (630) | about three weeks ago | (#47791529)

What if there were an ongoing crime and results were dumped before it was known that data was needed? What constitutes a "hit list"?

Re:Good (2)

ganjadude (952775) | about three weeks ago | (#47791707)

id rather let criminals walk, over infringing on innocent americans constitutional rightd

Re:Good (1)

Enry (630) | about three weeks ago | (#47791849)

What constitutional right? Privacy? Let's see what the EFF says about that:

https://ssd.eff.org/your-compu... [eff.org]

That means the police can follow you around in public and observe your activities, see what you are carrying or to whom you are talking, sit next to you or behind you and listen to your conversations — all without a warrant.

Re:Good (1)

ganjadude (952775) | about three weeks ago | (#47791933)

illegal search and seizure. I have the right to move freely about in my country, without worrying about the government trying to stop me. By keeping a record of everywhere i go via my plate, (without me committing a crime) they are illegally collecting and retaining my information about my travels. Taking the photo is fine, keeping it IMO is not (and if it is, than we should be just as well within our rights to document all movements of the police in public, im talking a google map with a tracker on it showing where every last one is at any given time (or at least the last time it was "tagged" by a scanner)

Im no lawyer, but my main argument here is what right does the government have in collecting any and all data on us all? My beliefs are that if i am not a criminal, the government has 0 right to collect anything on me, and if they do accidentally, it should be destroyed, not stored away for someone to pull up and use against me for some unrelated thing that might happen down the road.

Re:Good (1)

Enry (630) | about three weeks ago | (#47792107)

The supreme court and EFF disagree with you. While you have the right to travel freely, you have no right of privacy when in public and collecting information about you and your travels does not impede you traveling. You also have the option of not traveling by your own car - you can rent a car, borrow one from a friend, walk, bike, or take public transit.

As for your last statement I completely agree that collected data should be deleted after some period of time - enough time that if it's needed as evidence it can be used, but not so long that your entire travel history is available for perusal at any time by any person.

Re:Good (1)

ganjadude (952775) | about three weeks ago | (#47792275)

based on the SC and the EFF, it seems as if i would be well within my rights to set up some cameras to OCR plates myself than correct? I could even crowd source it, and post little trackers on particular cars when they pass the citizen cameras showing the routes and routines of anyone I want as well? Cops, federal employees, if i got down to chappaqua and set some up i could even monitor the clintons, all legally correct?? Hey if thats how they want it than i got to start writing a new android/iphone app

Im not against reasonable retention laws, 30-60 days is well within reason for the numbers not being watched on some list, any longer is too much (I feel the same way about internet logs and phone records, 30-60 days without a court order and it should be purged)

Re:Good (1)

Enry (630) | about three weeks ago | (#47792343)

based on the SC and the EFF, it seems as if i would be well within my rights to set up some cameras to OCR plates myself than correct? I could even crowd source it, and post little trackers on particular cars when they pass the citizen cameras showing the routes and routines of anyone I want as well? Cops, federal employees, if i got down to chappaqua and set some up i could even monitor the clintons, all legally correct?? Hey if thats how they want it than i got to start writing a new android/iphone app

You can likely do some of that, though some of what you describe (following specific people) would fall under anti-stalking laws. As noted elsewhere in this thread, repo companies are already doing this and businesses have cameras set up on their property and within the store recording your every move. Get writing! You only need a bunch of people willing to do this and a lot of license plate reading equipment.

Im not against reasonable retention laws, 30-60 days is well within reason for the numbers not being watched on some list, any longer is too much (I feel the same way about internet logs and phone records, 30-60 days without a court order and it should be purged)

Seems reasonable to me.

Re:Good (1)

ganjadude (952775) | about three weeks ago | (#47792403)

no stalking involved, a stationary camera (plus stationary cameras from any one else contributing) plotting plate data on google maps. I can see how politicians would change the meaning of stalking to include something like this however.

Re:Good (0)

Anonymous Coward | about three weeks ago | (#47792733)

You argue for your right to invade on privacy as bad as the governent do. none of you should be doing that crap. And how you can argue against goverment spying while praising the private/personal ditto is plain doublemoral.

Re:Good (1)

ganjadude (952775) | about three weeks ago | (#47792853)

My hope is that it would cause a public uproar, in turn restricting the use by the cops. In other words im not praising the public to do this, but I want the public to watch the watchers

Re:Good (1)

russotto (537200) | about three weeks ago | (#47793875)

You also have the option of not traveling by your own car - you can rent a car, borrow one from a friend, walk, bike, or take public transit.

If you rent a car or use public transit, they're tracking you through your payment instrument and/or facial recognition. If you walk or bike, facial recognition. If you borrow a car, they'll track down your friend and have him/her rat you out, or use facial recognition.

Re:Good (0)

Anonymous Coward | about three weeks ago | (#47793603)

The EFF does not say that that's good or constitutional. They just say that that's the status quo. Learn to understand the difference.

Re:Good (0)

fustakrakich (1673220) | about three weeks ago | (#47791195)

Gee, if you hadn't been moderated, your post would have gone justifiably ignored.

Rules??? Please!

Re:Good (1)

Enry (630) | about three weeks ago | (#47791541)

But you cared enough to reply. I'm touched.

Re:Good (0)

fustakrakich (1673220) | about three weeks ago | (#47791825)

Like I said, the moderation attracted my attention. Somebody actually agrees with the drivel you posted

Re:Good (0)

Anonymous Coward | about three weeks ago | (#47793951)

See? there you go. the mods are on your side. They think the cops are cool.

And I am going to post this as AC, so they can go mod bomb me somewhere else. I've seen that abuse before.

Re:Good (0)

Anonymous Coward | about three weeks ago | (#47791243)

" If the EFF and ACLU (whom I normally support) wants the actual data, they can get their own OCR license plate cameras and drive around. "

You are simple. They don't want the data, they want to see the data so they can see how it's being abused and the potential for abuse.

Re: Good (0)

Anonymous Coward | about three weeks ago | (#47791401)

And in your even simpler mind, that somehow implies they DON'T get the data? I wish I had the flexibility for your mental gymnastics, jesus tittyfucking christ...

Re: Good (2)

ganjadude (952775) | about three weeks ago | (#47792417)

no, but its the point that they dont care about the actual data, they care about how its being abused or potentially is being abused

Re:Good (3, Insightful)

cHiphead (17854) | about three weeks ago | (#47791389)

You're kidding right? This is absolutely a farse. The data set isn't insanely large and they could simply redact any specific records that may relate to active investigations.

The LAPD obviously doesn't want people to know they just run the shit out of everyone without cause, effectively committing searches without probable or even generally reasonable public safety cause.

Re:Good (1)

Enry (630) | about three weeks ago | (#47791505)

"What are you collecting" is different from "What did you collect" and "What privacy should be applied to what is collected".

EFF/ACLU is asking for B which is the wrong question. A and C are far more important without knowing exactly what is collected.

Here's a scenario:

You're interviewing for a new job. You drive to the company to interview on site. While you're on your way, the police tag your car in various spots along your trip including the parking lot of the site. Now under normal circumstances, that data would be private and not released without court order (yes, fantasy land, but bear with me) so your trip remains private and after some period of time those records are expunged.

Now say that the EFF and ACLU get their way and have all that data released. All your movements are now considered public record available for review by anyone. Do you want your boss pouring through your movements?

Re:Good (2)

symbolic (11752) | about three weeks ago | (#47791567)

I personally think you've missed the point. The point is that the cops shouldn't tagging *anyone* unless they are currently under investigation. If the cops happen to get a false hit, that data should be expunged *immediately* - immediately in the sense that they never even get to see it, because there is no reason they need it.

Re:Good (1)

Enry (630) | about three weeks ago | (#47791651)

Why?

I mean, from a privacy sense, you're in a public place and therefore have no reasonable sense of privacy. Do you chase down people that are taking photographs where you or your car are in the background?

If you want to talk about what's done with that data after it's been collected that's a different story and not what is being asked for in this case. But you're just as entitled to set up your own license plate tracking system just like the police are.

Also think of this as a lead in to having police carry cameras and record every interaction with the public. Should that data get dumped immediately if the person is not accused of a crime? Michael Brown was accused of a crime, but there wasn't time for Wilson to know that, so under your rules, the events leading up to his shooting would be expunged.

Re:Good (0)

Anonymous Coward | about three weeks ago | (#47793483)

I mean, from a privacy sense, you're in a public place and therefore have no reasonable sense of privacy.

Bullshit, bullshit, bullshit. No matter how many times you government bootlickers say this, it's always bullshit. There is privacy even in public places. Example: Taking photos under women's skirts will get you in trouble in a lot of places.

And this is a different type of privacy from just someone seeing you. The type of privacy that's relevant here is privacy from mass government surveillance of public places. It's absolutely different from someone just seeing you or a human trying to track people, since human memory is unreliable, humans are inefficient, and this is going to a central source. We can place any restrictions upon our government that we want.

Frankly, if people say this is a good thing, they're ignoring the hundreds of thousands abuses of government power throughout history, and ignoring that this country was founded on a distrust of government. It's difficult to get more ignorant than that. Mass government surveillance absolutely should be forbidden, and anyone who disagrees hates freedom.

Re:Good (0)

Anonymous Coward | about three weeks ago | (#47793701)

You seem to be full of it, but this isn't bullshit. This is someone walking down the street and writing down every license plate they come across. Anyone can do it, including you, the police, and particularly parking control, and they can do it precisely because a license plate is not hidden information.

What the police do with those license plates is the police's business, just like what you do with your license plate database is your business. The thing is, the plates themselves tell you just about nothing. You could tracks dealer plates, vanity plates, and other special plates, but you're not going to be figuring out anyone's address or name unless you tail them back to their house and start up a conversation (oh look, just like the police). The actual owner information comes from an entirely separate database that the police legitimately have access to and you (legitimately) don't.

You may get your panties in a wad over government abuses, but just remember that distrusting everything the government says and does without actually thinking it through just makes you an ignorant, spittle-spewing conspiracy nut.

Re:Good (1)

Feces's Edge (3801473) | about three weeks ago | (#47793833)

This is someone walking down the street and writing down every license plate they come across.

Again, nonsense. License plate readers are 100% different from simply writing down license plates. Here are some fundamental differences:
1) They're more accurate.
2) They can be nearly omnipresent; just install them everywhere.
3) They cost less than paying lots of people to write down license plates.
4) They can all send the information to a central source far more easily than a human could.

So yeah, you're an imbecile.

Some privacy exists even in public places. People need privacy from mass government surveillance, and bootlickers such as yourself need to stop pretending that this is the same as someone just writing down license plates. All you're doing is making it easier for the government to selectively oppress its targets, which can range anywhere from civil rights leaders (such as when they spied on MLK) to people who make jokes about the government to people who criticize it.

What the police do with those license plates is the police's business

No, We The People pay them and give them their powers in the first place. The government does not have rights; it has powers, and those powers can be revoked.

You may get your panties in a wad over government abuses, but just remember that distrusting everything the government says and does without actually thinking it through just makes you an ignorant, spittle-spewing conspiracy nut.

Straw man. I distrust the government with this data because of the hundreds of millions of cases of government abuses of power throughout history. The idea that the government can be trusted with mass surveillance technologically is an idea that can only be put forth by ignorant morons and those who want to oppress others with the information to begin with. I've thought it through, and I've come to the conclusion (much like with the NSA's mass surveillance) that this violates privacy rights and is too easily abused; that is not debatable.

Re:Good (3, Informative)

Charliemopps (1157495) | about three weeks ago | (#47791479)

I don't necessarily like knowing cops have this information but so long as there's rules over the collection (see above) I'm okay with this.

But you have no idea if they are following those rules at all. Police have a long history of flagrantly violating such rules:
http://sacramento.cbslocal.com... [cbslocal.com]
http://www.thenewsherald.com/a... [thenewsherald.com]
http://articles.courant.com/20... [courant.com]

And using their position to rape and murder:
http://abcnews.go.com/Primetim... [go.com]
http://time.com/3159146/oklaho... [time.com]
http://articles.courant.com/20... [courant.com]

Access to 1 weeks worth of data would allow the public as a whole to see how they are being monitored. The few criminal investigations that may be impacted pale in comparison to the overwhelming public right to know what the police are up to.

Re:Good (2)

Enry (630) | about three weeks ago | (#47791513)

Fine, have an independent oversight board review the records without making them public while keeping the details secret.

Re:Good (1)

Charliemopps (1157495) | about three weeks ago | (#47791615)

Fine, have an independent oversight board review the records without making them public while keeping the details secret.

Which is exactly what could happen here. The Judge could release the data to the EFF and ACLU and put them under a gag order.

Re:Good (1)

Enry (630) | about three weeks ago | (#47791659)

I'd be fine with that result. So long as we don't start thinking that these kinds of videos are public records that can be searched without a court order.

Re:Good (0)

Anonymous Coward | about three weeks ago | (#47793677)

There's the rub. The police have, in the past, argued that they are allowed to *collect* that information because it is publicly available data, and that reasoning was accepted. Now they're arguing that they can't be required to *divulge* that data because it is *not* public data.

Re:Good (4, Interesting)

Rockoon (1252108) | about three weeks ago | (#47791645)

Fine, have an independent oversight board review the records without making them public while keeping the details secret.

I nominate the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) as the independent review boards.

Re:Good (1)

Enry (630) | about three weeks ago | (#47791691)

Again, fine. So long as it's not considered a public record.

Re:Good (1)

Rockoon (1252108) | about three weeks ago | (#47791821)

Well they tried to get the records but they ran into a little snag.

Re:Good (0)

Anonymous Coward | about three weeks ago | (#47791679)

If you're cool with me having license plate readers, then I'm getting some.

Re:Good (1)

sumdumass (711423) | about three weeks ago | (#47792189)

The actual videos themselves may contain enough information to track vehicles over a period of time

You don't even need the videos. LPR tech is used by repo companies all the time (where it isn't outlawed now) and with a short history of hits on a specific license plate, you can specifically identify the habits of a person and realistically track them to a location in which the car can be repossessed while they are not in it.

But here is why the EFF and such want the information. They want to show how possible this is so the public knows it is more than a camera which notifies the cops when a license plate of a stolen car drives by them. That every single license plate the system recognizes goes into a storage computer along with the date, time, GPS location and likely other information.

Depending on how long this data is kept, they can reconstruct a lot of things about you, like when you were parked in that abortion clinic/AIDS treatment center parking lot for 4 hours that one Friday (when your car broke down and you pushed it off the road but it won't have that info with it). They look and reliably detect your work schedule, when you visit the grocery stores, and a lot of other things. All without you ever doing anything wrong.

Eat Shit and Die in LA (0)

Anonymous Coward | about three weeks ago | (#47790889)

To wonder why in LA.

Quantity and Quality of Data ? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about three weeks ago | (#47791023)

Do you think the big secret could the large number of plates scanned and the number of times a plate is scanned each day ?

Pick out a number of average citizens and see how complete of a days travels were captured ?

See if you can find your own plate and see if you went anywhere than was NOT captured on a scan.

Big Brother is watching you. Have a nice day ?

No surprise (1)

Anonymous Coward | about three weeks ago | (#47791065)

LA illegally pays judges [judicialwatch.org] additional monies beyond their salary, so why is it a surprise that the judges consistently rule in favor of the LA government?

Time Delay (1)

penguinoid (724646) | about three weeks ago | (#47791099)

A sufficient time delay before the information becomes public would solve most or all of the problem with compromising investigations. What's the real reason?

Re:Time Delay (2)

westlake (615356) | about three weeks ago | (#47791267)

A sufficient time delay before the information becomes public would solve most or all of the problem with compromising investigations.

How do you define "sufficient time" in any meaningful way?

Real-lie criminal investigations are not wrapped up in the sixty minutes or so they are allotted on a TV show like CSI or Criminal Minds.

The stakes can be high, quite literally, life and death.

Re:Time Delay (0)

Anonymous Coward | about three weeks ago | (#47793679)

Is there an active investigation involving the particular piece of information?
Yes. Then don't divulge it.
No. Then divulge it.

The only way *that* would risk an active investigation is if the records are so complete that you would be able to discern that a plate was *missing* from the results. If that's the case, then the system is *well* beyond what might be reasonably required as an investigatory or other law enforcement tool.

Re:Time Delay (1)

currently_awake (1248758) | about three weeks ago | (#47791459)

If the police put license plate scanners at every intersection in the city instead of just outside the HQ of every street gang then people might ask why they are wasting taxpayer money on that. It's not the specific data, it's the volume that they are trying to hide.

Yes, all you uncharged criminals... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about three weeks ago | (#47791107)

This means you. Holy shit, Americans really used to be smarter than this. Now, they seem to make it a point of rubbing it in your face. Because you like it that way.

we're all citize^h^h^h^h^h uncharged criminals now (1)

xeno (2667) | about three weeks ago | (#47792245)

This. By stating that none of the bulk data can be disclosed because of "potential charges," that's a little different than redacting "ongoing investigations" against specific individuals. The latter is a pretty reasonable limitation on the information disclosed from a FOIA request, but the former is a pretty literal form of treason: an appointed or elected official is seeking to subvert the US Constitution's prohibitions on warrant-less searches, and also to bypass constitutional checks and balances by essentially turning judgements into decrees removing rights from every citizen in perpetuity. Add the notion that the topic is secrecy of scope as well as content, and that's pretty much a literal definition of "conspiracy" to violate* the constitution.

*Perhaps "provide a legal contortion that exempts all citizens from certain constitutional protections in a manner that clearly and purposefully violates the intent of the law."

Third Branch Delinquent (3, Insightful)

Tokolosh (1256448) | about three weeks ago | (#47791327)

I read a lot of discussion comments vilifying Democrat or Republican presidents, representatives and senators. People are slowly realizing that both parties are equally bad. I take this as given, and anticipated by the Founding Fathers.

The antidote is supposed to be the judiciary, from the bottom all the way up to the Supreme Court. However, the scales are now falling from my eyes. I a sadly conclude that judges are partisan, stupid, have not respect for the Constitution and the long-term consequences of their decisions. They are completely beholden to the executive and legislative branches and have abdicated their responsibilities. They have lost my respect.

Re:Third Branch Delinquent (1)

Jim Sadler (3430529) | about three weeks ago | (#47791705)

Don't let it bother you one bit. The government you see and know is not really the government under which you live. Allowing populations to have beliefs and votes is just a dog and pony show to keep the hoople heads calm. Ask yourself why so many tens of thousands of documents relating to the death of JFK are still top secret. Realizing the importance of just that one moment in time just how could information over 50 years old need to be secret. That is about as absurd as stamping top secret on plans to make a common bow and arrow. You know, quite a few people can make a bow and arrow and have been doing so for thousands of years.

DIY plate reader? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about three weeks ago | (#47791531)

Is there open source software that is fairly reliable at plate decoding? I live on a fairly busy street and wonder about putting up a simple site that lists "this plate passed at this time going north/south."

Here's the problem with that... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about three weeks ago | (#47791581)

If your evidence collection cannot stand up to public review, it should not stand up to a court's. That is, if you choose to keep these things secret and away from people that can prove your methods may be flawed, then what it collects it should be inadmissible in court as evidence.

There is absolutely no legitimate reason for this to be a secret.

Track 100% (1)

Jim Sadler (3430529) | about three weeks ago | (#47791653)

If we use machines to auto track every plate, all the time, then publishing that information would not warn a criminal that they were being watched at all. After all we are all being watched. I see more of an issue with people who live a lie and can't explain to a spouse why they park in certain places over and over again. Really it is only truth that people are worried about. Can people exist without their lies and cheating? Do honest people fear observation?

Re:Track 100% (0)

Anonymous Coward | about three weeks ago | (#47793511)

Do honest people fear observation?

Do you have curtains? Do you shut the bathroom door? Do you desire any form of privacy at all? Therefore, you're dishonest. Privacy is simply a basic human need, and it's also a check on the government's ability to oppress people.

Have honest people ever been abused by governments throughout history? Wow, there's only about... hundreds of millions of cases of abuse! I can't fathom how you could be so ignorant as to spew forth the "Nothing to hide, nothing to fear." fallacy, all the while speaking of a country that's supposed to be "the land of the free and the home of the brave" and was founded on a distrust of government. Mass surveillance is not good and will never be good.

This won't stay secret for long... (2)

Immostlyharmless (1311531) | about three weeks ago | (#47791671)

If it's just data and your average street cop has access to it, it's hackable. It's only a matter of time.

All data or your data? (2)

goodmanj (234846) | about three weeks ago | (#47791757)

The ACLU fought the wrong fight on this one. The public should absolutely not have access to *everyone's* plate reader data, that would enable serious privacy abuses and criminal acts ("My ex-wife got a restraining order and hid from me, I'll find her car and then I'll show that bitch...") , and should not have access to lists of people the cops especially want to find (the "hot lists" referred to in the article.)

But people should be able to use plate reader data for their own vehicles specifically to defend themselves in court. ("I couldn't have killed the guy, the cops saw my car across town five minutes later." And yes, there are obvious holes in that defense, but it's admissible and useful.)

Investigateive tool (2)

Dereck1701 (1922824) | about three weeks ago | (#47791837)

"its value as an investigative tool would be severely compromised."

I'd be interested to see how these same police departments would respond if identical ALPRs were placed near police stations, government buildings & affluent neighborhoods by private individuals. I imagine it ending quite quickly in threats, arrests & even possibly injuries. Its funny how a surveillance tool is so great until the general public turns it on those in authority (tape recorders, video cameras, cell phone cameras, drones), then it miraculously needs "common sense" restrictions that those in authority are almost always exempt from.

Stupid Decision. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about three weeks ago | (#47792045)

I would have some criminals get away than the foundation of freedom compromised. Silly that the judges do not get it, something that they are hired to protect.

Part of the problem (0)

Anonymous Coward | about three weeks ago | (#47792175)

That Judge is part of the problem with our dwindling freedoms here in America. He could have ordered them to release a copy of the data without their apparent investigations being revealed. This makes me think that the police are up to no good with these trackers, the judge knows it, therefore there is a problem. Since it is the LAPD, there is something underhanded in whatever they are involved in, the LAPD has time and time again been shown to be very corrupt. Beware if LA County starts needing a data-center along the lines of a Google facility LA residents

We are all - (2)

choke (6831) | about three weeks ago | (#47793433)

Just so this is perfectly clear - I am an 'un-charged criminal', and so are you. What this is proposing is that the basis of innocent until proven guilty, the freedom from undue search and or seizure, which I am quite sure would have included having armed men follow one around observing them at all times, are all guarantees that we have but are not demanding from our own constitution.

What threat is so great that we accept these conditions? What threat is greater than tyranny and secrecy?

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