As seen recently on the CBS Evening News, technology now exists, and is being used to read the license plates of EVERY vehicle that passes by a checkpoint, up to 1,800 plates per minute (even vehicles traveling faster than 100 mph). The plates are instantly cross-referenced on a local computer and/or remote database center, and are checked for “the names of vehicle owners against registration records, fugitive warrants, and criminal data bases — giving police critical information,” sounding alarms when possible violators are spotted.
The particular system that was reported on by CBS is in the state of Maryland. The data is (are) funneled to Maryland’s Intelligence Center, which connects and monitors 367 license plate readers around the state. Assistant U.S. Attorney Harvey Eisenberg oversees the network.
Not only is the system used to track down the criminal element, tax departments use them as well. Arlington, Va. relies on scanners to locate the cars of delinquent taxpayers. Therein lies the danger of technology creep used to further ‘oversee’ us and trap us tighter in the increasing ‘police state’ that we live in.
These types of technologies are always presented as for good, and no doubt that some good can be had. However when governments and organizations are given the power to control or check others, it is ALWAYS eventually abused. Technology advancement is sometimes stunning in what it can result. Maryland already has 360 of these particular license plate readers networked across the state. It would be a very simple matter of throwing more money at it, in order to widen the scope across the nation (perhaps it already has). A system like this will literally make it simple to track EVERY vehicle (you). This, coupled with other past and present technologies is surely leading towards total tracking and profiling of EVERY person in ‘the system’. It is an outrageous violation of privacy.
New Hampshire, so far, is the only state to ban license plate readers.