UK version of spy system was used to target political activists
The Department of Homeland Security is set to activate a national license plate tracking system that will be shared with law enforcement, allowing DHS officers to take photos of any license plate using their smartphone and upload it to a database which will include a “hot list” of “target vehicles”.
Image: License Plate Scanning Camera (Wikimedia Commons).
The details are included in a PDF attachment uploaded yesterday to the Federal Business Opportunities website under a solicitation entitled “National License Plate Recognition Database.”
The system will “track vehicle license plate numbers that pass through cameras or are voluntarily entered into the system from a variety of sources (access control systems, asset recovery specialists, etc.) and uploaded to share with law enforcement” in order to help locate “criminal aliens and absconders.”
In other countries that have activated license plate tracking networks, such as the United Kingdom, political activists have been targeted by having their vehicles added to a “hotlist” after attending protests. One example led to a man being questioned under anti-terror laws after he traveled to take part in an anti-war demonstration.
As the image above illustrates, the cameras are also used by local governments in Australia to keep records of people who violate parking restrictions. Critics of the system in Australia have condemned it as “a Pandora’s box for abuse of power, mistakes and illegal disclosure,” stressing that the technology allows authorities to record “your number plate at a certain time and location,” allowing police to “compile an extraordinary amount of data about you. This includes your name, address, contact details, driving history and licence status.”
“Innocent people are increasingly being treated with suspicion due to the tiny chance that some offence may be committed,” writes David Jancik.
The DHS’ database will allow authorities “to determine where and when the vehicle has traveled,” using data compiled “from a variety of sources nationwide,” including “metropolitan areas” within the United States, suggesting the system may be linked in with regular surveillance cameras as it is in the UK.
The system will also allow DHS officials to take a picture of any license plate via their smartphone, upload it to the database and immediately receive an alert if the plate is on the watchlist.
“The NLPR data service should provide details on clarity of photos provided. The Government would prefer a close-up of the plate and a zoomed out image of the vehicle,” states the solicitation.
The system must also have the capability to “flag license plates and conduct searches anonymously so that other law enforcement agencies may not have access.”
Given rampant concerns that the Department of Homeland Security, which is ostensibly introducing this system in the name of catching illegal aliens, is in fact an increasingly bloated federal bureaucracy designed to target the American people, the notion of the DHS enjoying access to a fully integrated nationwide license plate tracking grid is chilling, especially given the fact that the agency has funded reports which characterize “liberty lovers” as potential terrorists.
The DHS also recently awarded the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority $7 million dollars to outfit its buses with high tech 360 degree surveillance cameras. The federal agency is simultaneously supporting the rollout of ‘Intellistreets’ lighting systems that double as surveillance hubs which can record conversations.
“Do not kid yourself. This is tracking of an individual that can be accessed at a whim,” writes James Smith. “Yearly, officers are terminated for accessing the LEDS/NCIC database for looking into the histories of ex-lovers, future spouses, and potential sons/daughters-in-law. And with license plate tracking toy (not a tool), they will know where you are, as long as you have driven into the cross hairs of this new weapon for tyranny.”