Monday, September 13, 2010

Nothing personal, Chief...

...but given the track record of the IMPD* of late, I wouldn't trust them with a burnt-out match, let alone Orwellian automated license plate scanners.

Dammit, if you want to ask for my "papieren, bitte," at least have the common courtesy to come up and do it to my face, rather than letting R2D2 carry your water for you.

When I heard they were getting new high tech equipment, I sorta hoped it'd be BIID's on their Crown Vics, not robotic computerized snooping technology.

Oh, and Fire Frank Straub.

_______________________
* IMPD = I Must Patrol Drunk.

30 comments:

genedunn said...

I don't know about the constitutionality or potential for abuse, but municipalities in the NE have been using that technology for years to scan tags looking for parking violators that need to be booted or towed.

Rabbit said...

Some of the local suburbs have started using plate-scanning technology to query the state database for current/valid automobile insurance coverage, unpaid tickets/local misdemeanor warrants and such. It's a pretty easy revenue generator, especially since some of the 'burbs have a policy of no minimum insurance coverage- we tow and impound the vehicle. Locally, the numbers indicate about 25% of all the vehicles on our streets don't have current 'inspection stickers' (i.e., emissions testing) or license stickers on the windshield or minimum liability coverage. There was a thriving cottage industry here in counterfeit inspection stickers, and at one time it was discovered that 25% of Dallas County-owned vehicles had counterfeit stickers due to failure to pass emission testing.

Some towns are suspected of using this plate-scanning technology to cross-reference vehicles against locations for known criminal issues- parking at apartments where drug use is known to occur, and immigrant population concentrations with a low availability of ID documentation papers.

Anonymous said...

"It is not the function of our Government to keep the citizen from falling into error; it is the function of the citizen to keep the Government from falling into error." -- Robert H. Jackson (1892-1954), U.S. Judge, in American Communications Association v. Douds, May 1950

Brian J. said...

Allow me to remind you of the European solution:

http://qahatesyou.com/wordpress/2010/03/its-an-alternative-form-of-input/

tgace said...

Eh. We have plate readers. They are no different from officers simply running random plates (which is entirely legal). The system just does it automatically...which actually removes any accusations of racial profiling.

Systems where cameras are used to automatically send out tickets without an oficer having to stop the car and investigate may be construed to be Orwellian, but not the ones on squad cars IMO.

Comrade E.B. Misfit said...

Remington partnered with a European company to form Remington Elsag; they're the bringers of this. And yes, they market the cameras as a way to have a record of who drives down what street. A PD out in CA is planning to use them to have a record of who comes into their saintly little burg.

Tam said...

tgace,

"They are no different from officers simply running random plates (which is entirely legal)."

This is a splendid example of why the "slippery slope fallacy" isn't necessarily fallacious, and why "legal" != "right".

tgace said...

Those ID tags (license plates) are mandated to be on our cars for a reason. For right or wrong, the cops have ALWAYS had the authority to run that tag and see if your registration is legal. Technology has just made it much faster and easier now.

The issue is what data is associated with that plate, and the when and where the cop runs it. That data is really no different from any other police related information that is stored...going back to hand written contact cards.

I could just as easily (and legally) keep note of where I see your vehicle by jotting down notes. I think the issue is the technological advantage vs the actual data being accessed. There is really not much new here in terms of what the police are allowed to know (for right or wrong)..all that is new is the ease by which it can be obtained now.

These plate readers really havent changed the fundamentals of the job. The arrests/tickets/etc we make are exactly the same as befor we had them. The camera just takes the place of me typing a plate into the computer manually or requesting the info from dispatch.

Tam said...

tgace,

"Those ID tags (license plates) are mandated to be on our cars for a reason. For right or wrong, the cops have ALWAYS had the authority to run that tag and see if your registration is legal. Technology has just made it much faster and easier now."

As I was ranting to Shootin' Buddy (who is very much on your side of this debate) Sunday morning, that is the problem with the whole thing.

If the purpose of the plate is to show that the vehicle has paid roadway usage taxes, then ditch the plate entirely and go with some non-unique and non-removable decal applied to the vehicle skin itself. Let's have a simple binary: "Yes, this vehicle has paid the pavement tax this year," or "This vehicle has no right to be using public roads."

As it is, license plates are "not to be used for identification" in about the same way as my SS card.

tgace said...

Im not really on any "side". I play by the rules as they stand. Currently the rules say that there is no 4th amendment protection in the data attached to a license plate. Driving, as it stands, comes with the restrictions of registration and the fine print attached to it...like a cop checking your plate.

http://www.allbusiness.com/services/legal-services/4086446-1.html

I always find it odd how a guy with a felony warrant in illegal possession of weapons is the guy who tries to go up the federal appeals route. He's far less a sympathetic figure than say some housewife with no criminal record who got locked up for the same thing. But thats the way it goes most of the times.

If the courts change the rules I will follow the new rules accordingly...

Tam said...

tgace,

"Im not really on any "side". I play by the rules as they stand."

And I apologize for the implication. I get what you're saying.

tgace said...

No apology necessary. I see where you are coming from. ;)

Just appreciating a conversation about something Im interested in.

Stuart the Viking said...

The problem is one of levels of intrusion into your privacy. It is perfectly fine for an officer to follow you if you are under investigation; however the courts have said that the officer cannot put a tracker on your car without a warrant. The tracker doesn't give any more information than the cop would have gotten by following, yet, since the level of intrusion is greater, they need a warrant. I think the same idea applies here.

s

tgace said...

But you are mistaken as a matter of standing law...the current legal standing is that hanging an ID plate on a vehicle is expressly for the purposes of identification and the police are allowed to access that information. Thats what the 6th circut decided.

I don't always have to have a particular reason to "follow you"; as long as I am where I can legally be. I cant "tag you" with a GPS..but this is not "tagging" this is a camera legally doing the same thing I could do with my eyes and the data I am currently allowed to access.

I can follow you (in vehicle) all around my jurisdiction waiting for you to violate a traffic law. Perfectly legal. Not something I would do or tell my officers to do unless they could articulate a reason too because it's not very "customer friendly" but it's not illegal.

Anonymous said...

There was quite a flap about the trafic cams being marketed origionaly as great revenue generators. Officers are primarily revenue generators. Not much for "keeping the peace" no revenue generated by busting criminals that don't have resorces to confiscate. I and many of you on the other hand have a car , property,savings ripe for the picking. Scaning a plate quickly reviels assets. To what degree who knows.

Stuart the Viking said...

tgase,

exactly what I was saying. An officer can follow to his hearts content, but can't tag with a GPS without a warrant. Why? because that gives the police too much power to keep tabs on people. By the same vein, an officer can pull the info on any tag he wants, but I don't think the police should be allowed to automate it with cameras. It gives the police too much power. Right now it's still new enough that there isn't a court decision on this particular application if camera and computer. We'll have to wait to see what they say. Really, I wouldn't want to have my life depend upon that decision. As much as I think it's an overreach of police power, it wouldn't surprise me if a (more statist leaning) judge disagreed.

s

Tirno said...

Out in the military classified world, there's the concept of "aggregate classification". That means that when you put unclassified information together in one place, it upgrades to Secret. Put together a few Secret pieces of information, and you get Top Secret. So, for example, everyone knows there's a fighter base at Aviano, Italy. Someone else knows there's a big load of jet fuel delivered to RAF Mildenhall. Someone else knows RAF Fairford has a squadron of B-52s visiting. Someone else knows that RAF Fairford has to be woken up from mothball status to receive bombers. Someone else knows there's a lot of Joint STARS flights leaving from Ramstein AB, and returning about 8 hours later. Someone else knows that 3rd and 8th Air Force HQs are getting a lot of pizza delivered in. Individually, it's nothing. All together, it means the Serbians are going to get their socks blown off, and you better believe that is at minimum Secret when put all in one place.

I think the same thing should apply to personal information with regards to police knowledge. It's nothing to know that a vehicle with your license place is at a location a cop can see. It's another thing entirely to put that together with all the other places that car has been that day. A narrow, focussed, immediate query of a government database should be OK for a cop to get on his discretion. But querying more than one database, for results more than the immediate, etc, should cross increasing lines of standards for the issuance of a warrant to make such searches.

Anonymous said...

Tirno has it nailed. 'Nuff said.

WV: hatings. What I fell about privacy violations.

Earl

Anonymous said...

All of this presupposes that the license plate on the car is the car it was purchased for. There have been any number of juvenile pranks with switching.license plates as well as "borrowing" plates to make numerous madcap runs through speed cameras & red light cameras before returning the plates. Nor has this addressed the issue of counterfeit licensees for the same purpose. I'd love to see the effect of seeing the same license 6 times in the same block.

Mark Alger said...

I have long and often thought that items such as driver licenses and car tags should be anonymized as a matter of privacy. They are meant to demonstrate that the bearer -- person or vehicle -- has met certain criteria, judged to be necessary to public safety. I don't see anywhere a compelling interest for the state to know WHO YOU ARE at the same time.

M

Tirno said...

Earl said: Tirno has it nailed. 'Nuff said.

Gorsh, aw shucks, such talk'll make me think that I should use my blog for more than range reports.

Will said...

Some states had/have a low profile way to point out to the officer that a vehicle is, or is not, a local. They do it by the number/letter groups of the plate. Certain areas are issued plates from specified sequences. Might be by north/south, or by county/city, or other geographical areas.
Some just stamp it with the county directly. Florida does it openly like this.
Still, Tirno explains it very well, that this new system will be keeping a running tab on everyones travels and schedules.

Wonder how soon it will be used to keep a tally on visitors to gun stores/ranges, adult bookstores, political gatherings, gay establishments, AA meetings, and any other groups the .gov might have an unhealthy interest in? As with any power the government obtains, it's just a matter of time before it WILL be abused.

D.W. Drang said...

I think that Tam--all Indy bloggers--should start ending (heh) their posts with "Indianapolis must fire Frank Straub."

Tam said...

What?

You think we should Fire Frank Straub?

:D

D.W. Drang said...

Well, Carthage has been destroyed...

Tom said...

I think that some folks are confused with the two ways in which this system works.

The first thing is...if anybody has actually USED this system... is that these readers dont "pull" any data. Querying DMV for each read would take WAY too long. A database of plates that are stolen, suspended, have warrants etc is loaded into the system prior to use (ex. NY ABC1234 RedFord Suspended). If the camera reads a plate in the database it alerts the operator who then (depending on dept policy) has to locate that vehicle and verify that that "alert" is actually current. In other words, the system isnt figuring out WHO is driving..its just saying "HEY!! That car is on the stolen/suspended/wanted list!!!!"

The storage of plate reads and the time/date stamp is a separate issue. Yes the system stores a list of license plate numbers with a date and GPS location, but thats it. If I wanted to know if ABC1234 was in the area of a burglary I can query the database but I would have to know what plate I was looking for. Useful for investigations if you have a suspect plate or are looking at plates in the immediate vicinity of a crime, but it would be FAR too much work to find out who owned EVERY plate the system read.

Anyway..the access and legal use of that data is limited by 28 CFR Part 23....

http://www.iir.com/28cfr/Overview.htm

I cant just fish around the database..any case made in that fashion would likely be suppressed.

Tom said...

And on the "revenue generation" thing..if we are talking about automated systems that issue tickets thats one thing.

However, what you learn quickly on this job is that "law breakers" like to break all laws. While the bulk of traffic infractions are by "good people" you soon discover that car stops result in warrants, illegal weapons, narcotics, parolees outside of their restrictions, sex offenders around schools and more.

While I have written a number of "regular joes" (who I believe deserved it), by far I issued more verbal warnings and went back to looiking for the "real criminals" who ran that red light. Don't underestimate the crime detection power of the routine car stop.

Billy Beck said...

"Im not really on any "side". I play by the rules as they stand."

It was for very good reason that Dante reserved a circle in hell for those without morals who will not judge.

I hope there will some mercy on your poor, thin soul.

tgace said...

You really want your police officers enforcing whatever it is they decide they want to enforce? That some procedures should be followed and others shouldn't. OK today I think the 4th Amendment shouldn't matter as long as I can lock-up someone who deserves it.

Spare me your quotes you have no clue.

tgace said...

You are no interested nor do you care if I have morals or judgement...what you want is for me to enforce the laws YOU like but ignore the ones YOU do not.

What about the people who think other than you? Are they not citizens of our country? Do they not deserve the same quality of service from me? That's why we have a legal system and are a nation lf LAW.