Wired's article by David Downs on new police cruiser software that automatically runs license plates is mildly interesting.
But what I found far more enlightening were some statistics in the article on the growth of police surveillance in France and England.
In France, 1,000 mobile and stationary plate-reading cameras have doubled speeding ticket revenue and halved speeding-related deaths in just two years. In the UK, 200 cameras policing London's Downtown Congestion Charge Zone generated 13,000 arrests in one year. British law enforcement loves the technology so much that the government has plans for a $43 million campaign to install enough cameras to monitor every motorist on the country's highways, major roads, and bigger intersections, digitally reading some 35 million plates per day. This could catch not just every stolen car but nearly every moving violation as it occurs.|Wired|But the Europeans don't have the same legacy of individualism and political resistance to tyranny that we have in this country. Surely that couldn't happen in the US of A...
The idea of cameras monitoring every highway, boulevard, and alley might strike some Americans as Orwellian. But even the American Civil Liberties Union acknowledges that the public has no right to license plate privacy on public streets. After all, cops can enter plate numbers by hand, so why not by camera? "There's absolutely no bar on collecting plates in public," says Barry Steinhardt, director of the ACLU's technology and liberty program. "There haven't been any legal challenges, because it's not illegal." |Wired|