Cities Should Stop Electronic Warrantless Surveillance

From ALPR cameras mounted on garbage trucks to IMSI catchers such as Dirtboxes and Stingrays, local authorities have increased exponentially the amount of electronic surveillance, with little regard for the basic principles of privacy.
December 17, 2015, 11am PST | PabloValerio | @pabl0valerio
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In 1972, the US Supreme Court ruled that an individual's right to privacy could only be breached by a court order, not at the discretion of law enforcement agencies. The majority in the case wrote: "The Fourth Amendment contemplates a prior judicial judgment, not the risk that executive discretion may be reasonably exercised."

A lot has happened in the 40-plus years since that decision.

Recently, in San Jose, CA, city leaders approved a study of a plan to place license-plate readers on garbage trucks. Since garbage trucks go around every street of the city at least once a week, the trucks can be used to locate parked vehicles in places where police cruisers usually don’t go. Garbage truck drivers wouldn’t see the information collected.

The ALPR (Automatic License Plate Recognition) device would send its data directly to the police, who could then build a massive database of cars parked on the street. San Jose already has six ALPR systems mounted on police cars and has set aside $68,400 for more units next year.

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Published on Wednesday, December 16, 2015 in Cities of the Future
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