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United States Privacy Transportation

ICE License-Plate Tracking Plan Withdrawn Amid Outcry About Privacy 152

Posted by samzenpus
from the on-second-thought dept.
An anonymous reader writes "Homeland security officials on Wednesday abruptly shelved a proposal to build a national database of license-plate scans after criticism from privacy advocates. The proposal, which had been posted online last week by the office of Immigration and Customs Enforcement, sought a contractor who could establish a searchable database of license plates, with the times and locations where they were spotted by traffic cameras and other sources. But in a statement late Wednesday, the department announced a reversal. 'The solicitation, which was posted without the awareness of ICE leadership, has been canceled,' said spokeswoman Gillian Christensen. 'While we continue to support a range of technologies to help meet our law enforcement mission, this solicitation will be reviewed to ensure the path forward appropriately meets our operational needs.'"
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ICE License-Plate Tracking Plan Withdrawn Amid Outcry About Privacy

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  • Withdrawn (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Dunbal (464142) * on Thursday February 20, 2014 @09:08AM (#46293869)
    Yeah right, withdrawn. To be resubmitted covertly as something else, hopefully covered by "national security". Go on, celebrate your "victory".
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by RocketChild (1397411)
      Withdrawn for more tweaking to get stuffed into a massive PATRIOT 2 bill down the road. Just like the thousand other 'proposals' that were done in the 80's and 90's that were withdrawn and suddenly found in a bill that was 10,000 pages long and put together in a matter of hours to be passed without question.
  • That way no one will get upset when we hire a company to magically receive license plate information from all the various authorities and deliver that data to us. Everyone wins!

  • No (Score:2, Funny)

    by jafiwam (310805)

    NSA contacted them and said "Don't do that, we already did, all you are doing is stirring up negative controversy with that talk."

    "Here's the URL and the credentials, have fun!

  • Many municipalities already have vehicles equipped with ANPR (automatic number plate recognition) equipment. Also, all toll roads (aka EZ pass) have databases of individual cars passing these roads. The logical step was to put everything to one database and to put a plate number scanning camera on every road. Currently DHS analysts have access to each and every database in the country and their problem is that they have to keep too many passwords and analysis is cumbersome. To overcome that very soon you w
    • by cayenne8 (626475)

      Many municipalities already have vehicles equipped with ANPR (automatic number plate recognition) equipment.

      Is there any good way to block this from auto reading, but leave for human eye reading?

      Could surrounding your license plate with infrared LEDs block these cameras but still make things perfectly visible to the naked eye?

  • As if the privacy implications and police overreach weren't bad enough, I have been feeling more and more frustrated over the financial aspect of programs like these. Who decided that this program was good or desirable in the first place? We've been getting along fine for a long time now without a national database of license-plate scans.

    The same can be said for many other surveillance and technology initiatives by police and government agencies. These programs cost vast amounts of money which could be used

    • As if the privacy implications and police overreach weren't bad enough, I have been feeling more and more frustrated over the financial aspect of programs like these. Who decided that this program was good or desirable in the first place? We've been getting along fine for a long time now without a national database of license-plate scans.

      The same can be said for many other surveillance and technology initiatives by police and government agencies. These programs cost vast amounts of money which could be used for cancer research, or schools, or bridge repairs, or space exploration, or countless other positive things. Alternatively, just give the money back to the taxpayers and let them put it to good use. I'm pretty sure that only a tiny percentage of people would volunteer to fund programs like these out of their own pockets.

      A program like this is relatively cheap and easy. I would expect it is already in place on a smaller level in a lot of municipalities (and certainly in DC). ICE probably withdrew it because they were afraid, in the current climate, that a legal challenge might (barely) succeed and threaten all of those prorams.

      The benefits to the program are also substantial--it gives you a lot of information for law enforcement *and* for anti-terrorism. They can use that to investigate crimes (who was in area X) (if you

      • They can use that to investigate crimes (who was in area X) (if you said your alibi was Y, why were you driving the other way?). If your goal is to prevent crime and to make investigation in the aftermath of an attack easier, you want this.

        It does, obviously, come at a privacy cost. But realistically, we're already living with it, and they're not going to stop unless a court orders them to--which is somewhat unlikely.

        Sure, and it would be easier to solve crimes if every citizen had a chip implanted that would track all their movements and record everything they do. To some people, freedom is a lot more important than solving every crime or "feeling safe" from terrorists. Unfortunately, the American people as a whole do not feel that way. They welcome more government survellience, take a look at polls conducted after the Snowden revelations - the majority doesn't see a problem with it because they think the NSA is mak

    • We've been getting along fine for a long time now without a national database of license-plate scans.

      Have we? Have we really? You think Iraqi and Afghani terrorists flying commercial jetliners into skyscrapers and federal buildings is "fine"? You think jihadis smuggling weapons of mass destruction onto airplanes in their shoes and their underwear is "fine"?

      You, citizen, are the reason this great nation is crumbling before the henchmen of Allah! Why do you hate America so much?

      [Disclaimer: It's satire. Save yourself the whoosh.]

    • by MiniMike (234881)

      I think the reasoning goes like this:
      Step 1: Have contractor establish a searchable database of license plates, with the times and locations where they were spotted by traffic cameras and other sources.
      Step 2: ?
      Step 3: Contractor profit (and kickbacks)!

  • Lessons of trust (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Wowsers (1151731) on Thursday February 20, 2014 @09:39AM (#46294019) Journal

    If one thing the Edward Snowden releases have shown, is if the authorities are telling you they plan to do something, they are probably already doing it.

  • I caught an unmarked "police" car methodically casing our office complex parking lot. I happed to walk right by as he entered a dead end area of our parking lot. He had a laptop and there were four rectangle boxes mounted on the trunk with lenses pointing outward. Our security group confirmed from videos that they cased our lot as well as nearby businesses. So, at what point is this trespassing? We didn't invite law enforcement on to our lot to collect data. We now know it was the local police departm
    • I caught an unmarked "police" car methodically casing our office complex parking lot. I happed to walk right by as he entered a dead end area of our parking lot. He had a laptop and there were four rectangle boxes mounted on the trunk with lenses pointing outward. Our security group confirmed from videos that they cased our lot as well as nearby businesses. So, at what point is this trespassing? We didn't invite law enforcement on to our lot to collect data. We now know it was the local police department and they've since added these readers to several marked vehicles and have stationed them alongside roadways collecting data. They've recently been sued over refusal to release information under state sunshine laws but I doubt that will stop them. We now have several police departments in the metro area using this. What next? Will they be installed on stop lights right next to the red light cameras?

      1. It usually becomes trespassing if someone with authority asks them to leave and they don't, although it varies based on state law.

      2. You can, however, sue them for violating four fourth amendment right to be free from unreasonable search. I don't know that you would win, but if it's a private parking lot, you might.

      3. They already use these on the West Side Highway as a pilot program for fully automated tolls. Everyone either has EZ-pass or gets billed through the mail based on their license plate. M

      • They do this in Miami also. Every lic plate is scanned for toll by plate. Very easy to believe that vehicle data is stored and can be searched later for patterns.... or instant hits are recorded when searching for specific cars.
    • Back-into the parking space so your lic plate is not facing out. At least make the cop get up out of his car to get your info.
  • Citizens group officials on Wednesday abruptly shelved a proposal to overthrow the federal government after government officials displayed a modicum of sanity. The proposal, which had been posted online last week by irate individuals, sought a contractor who could establish a government of the people, founded upon a belief in certain inalienable rights. But in a statement late Wednesday, the group announced a reversal. 'The solicitation, which was posted without the awareness of group leadership, has been c
  • I call Bullshit (Score:3, Interesting)

    by kjhambrick (111698) on Thursday February 20, 2014 @09:53AM (#46294119)

    'The solicitation, which was posted without the awareness of ICE leadership, has been canceled,' said spokeswoman Gillian Christensen.

    Like anyone would truly believe an underling could solicit such a bid without direction from the ICE leadership.

    The bastards are out of control.

    -- kjh

  • I didn't know the ICE [bahngalerie.de] had licence plates.

    Anyway, I'm all for tracking those, if it helps them being more punctual.
    Then again, you'd expect Deutsche Bahn to know where all their ICEs are at any given time, no? ... :-)

  • by fred911 (83970) on Thursday February 20, 2014 @10:22AM (#46294287)

    What they really shelved was the public acknowledgement of the desire for the program, I doubt they shelved the plans.

    • What they really shelved was the public acknowledgement of the desire for the program, I doubt they shelved the plans.

      This.

      When the government says, "OK, we're going to stop doing this program you're pissed about," what they really mean is "OK, we're going to stop doing this program that you're pissed about... openly."

      The proof is in the COINTELPRO.

  • Yeah, right. They just figure it's easier to do this clandestinely.

  • I'm gong to get a new bumper sticker which will read:

    4TH AMD"); DROP TABLE PlateScans;

    oblig ref [xkcd.com]

  • by rossdee (243626)

    So they (would of) only be tracking Internal Combustion Engine powered vehicles? Thats a good for the Tesla, Volt and Leaf owners...

  • ..this solicitation will be reviewed to ensure the path forward appropriately meets our operational needs.

    Translation: "We'll put this aside for now because you caught us out and pitched a fit about it like the little criminals we believe you all to be, and we'll wait until you inevitably forget about it, then we'll re-word it, hide it in some other, completely unassociated legislation, where it'll be voted on in the middle of the night and passed, then signed into law quietly without so much as a whisper from the media."

    • by stoploss (2842505)

      Translation: "We'll put this aside for now because you caught us out and pitched a fit about it like the little criminals we believe you all to be, and we'll wait until you inevitably forget about it, then we'll re-word it, hide it in some other, completely unassociated legislation, where it'll be voted on in the middle of the night and passed, then signed into law quietly without so much as a whisper from the media."

      Precisely: that's the common trope. Was I the only one struck by the fact that Snowden's revelations seemed to be the exact goals of the Total Information Awareness program [wikipedia.org]? You know, the program that was so publicly canceled after the massive outcry?

      "Maybe what they were really protesting was the name of the program! Let's just call it something else!"

      It's shit like this that makes me unhappy to live in a representative democracy. At least in a dictatorship the rulers don't pretend that they are following

  • Install backdoors in the existing ALPR databases so that they can download the data secretly and without any legal oversight.
  • There was a story not more than a few weeks/months ago where a local law enforcement agency had ignored the license plates of stolen cars they'd scanned. This is nothing more than another data point for the government's Total Information Awareness database.

    The only way to make this stuff illegal is to pass laws expressly forbidding it. The Feds have been using cute interpretations of privacy laws to pull this crap; with a wink and nod from Congress.

    I see lots of outrage on this website; I wonder how much

  • First, these people (HLS and the Gov in general) can't be trusted, you would never have known about this if they had their way.
    Second, to "shelve" it means "re-brand the project" and wait a couple of months then implement it.
    Last, you are going to have to do way more than complain if you want things to change, the noose is tightening everyday while most people are not even aware it's around their neck.
    http://iweb.tntech.edu/kosburn... [tntech.edu]

  • Amazing...you state truth with facts and some dipshit with an agenda on here marks your post as a Troll -1 while other's who subscribe to that moderator's point of view are marked "Insightful". WTF? So much for having your point of view heard because of one asswipe.

    Been on this site for almost 15 years and only recently have I been marked as Troll because I don't subscribe to the current philosophy that everything the gov't does is bad. /. has gone to the dogs.

  • In a similar vein as the "free" as in beer versus "free" as in speech colloquialism, citizens should be wary of the government's usage of "canceled" as in not going to do it versus, "canceled" as in the Total Information Awareness project where it was simply renamed and hidden.

    I would bet we will see this project continue under some other name with a new and improved excuse for existing.

  • Don't fucking trust them, and instead of verifying, watch them like a freaking hawk.
  • It's only a matter of time until a private company provides this service.

    I thought of doing this years ago.

    At the time, I imagined paying people to install cameras in vehicles, and selling access to the database to law enforcement, employers, spouses, etc. Now, that probably isn't necessary. The company could just scan the millions of photos and videos that are posted publicly every day.

    If some company isn't already experimenting with this, I would be amazed.

    In the end, this will be done, either by the go

  • This is getting old. The last time that America raised taxes on these was under reagan. It has sat stagnate all this time. That is why the roads are in horrible shape. To make matters worse, the states can not raise taxes, ESP. diesel, since the vehicles will simply buy in the neighboring state and avoid you all together.

    So, the RIGHT way to do this is to raise the FEDERAL taxes on diesel/gas by .25/gal each year for the next 4 years. That will SLOWLY increase it and give ppl and companies time to adjust.

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