Okie Pundit thinks the traffic cam controversy is lame;
Last month the blogosphere, led by Mike McCarville, erupted over the proposal to use traffic cameras to detect uninsured drivers.
From our vantage point, this is much ado about nothing.
Mr. O. Pundit, your “vantage point” is limiting your vision terribly. It makes me to wonder where exactly your head is. Try removing it from the darkness first and take another look.
Okie Pundit says;
The proposed cameras are to be on public roads, where privacy rights are limited or nonexistent. This reminds us of the liberal furor over the Patriot Act allowing the government to monitor the books people checked out of the public library.
Who is “us”? Is the writer a conglomerate or is the article written by consensus?
Was it only the liberals who took offense to having their reading materials monitored for signs that they might be inclined to be a terrorist? I don’t remember it that way.
Do you think that because it’s a public library then no one has a right to complain? I guess the recent web cam spying incident in Pennsylvania where kids were being photographed in their own bedrooms surreptitiously by school officials should not irritate anyone then. After all, the laptops were issued to students by a public school.
A brief description of that issue in case you missed it;
Blake Robbins’ father, Michael, verified from Assistant Principal Lindy Matsko that the school district did in fact have the capability of remotely activating the cameras embedded in the district-issued laptop computer wherever the computer may be situated and regardless of whether the student is using it, and that the school district could at any time choose “to view and capture whatever images were in front of the webcam, all without the knowledge, permission or authorization of any persons then and there using the laptop computer.”
By the way, it is not just public libraries that have to give over records upon demand. It is also bookstores. As a matter of fact, any business, public or private can be forced to turn over any records including your medical and financial without any particularized suspicion under the PATRIOT ACT. We will never know how many have had to do so because the PATRIOT ACT also allows the owners or workers forced to give up this information to be gagged.
But back to the issue at hand, the limits of privacy in the public sphere.
Of course privacy is always limited when we choose to venture out into public. This is because we are viewable. Anyone can look at us and we can be photographed without permission.
But this issue is not about being viewed. It is about being tracked, recorded and monitored and about the information being shared or retained. The proposal to put up a number of ALPR cameras in fixed locations is more like being stalked than simply viewed.
And we are not talking about criminal suspects here, but ordinary people going about their business.
The ALPR systems can and are being utilized for a wide variety of purposes far beyond a simple insurance verification check.
ELSAG, a very popular vendor of ALPR advertises;
ALPR data is a crucial intelligence asset for use in threat mitigation, crime prevention and criminal case resolution for public safety, law enforcement and criminal justice agencies. The COPLINK® software organizes and rapidly analyzes vast quantities of structured and seemingly unrelated data http://www.scribd.com/doc/23225353/ELSAG-IACP-COPLINK-Automatic-License-Plate-Recognition
Okie Pundit continues with his argument for the devices;
The cameras are being used to enforce the law, a law which protects responsible drivers who currently bear the burden of higher premiums because of those choosing to drive without insurance. Not to mention that one would presume illegal immigrants are disproportionately uninsured and this will be another avenue to detect those here illegally.
Law Enforcement Officers are supposed to enforce the law not a machine. This is essentially outsourcing of law enforcement. Guess what happens when you confuse the dispensing of justice with the profiteering by dispensing of tickets? It encourages corruption, plain and simple.
A good example of this is the rash of yellow light shortening perpetrated by profit seeking red light corporations.
Do you think a private company who profits off of ticketing us (30%) is going to be a fair arbiter? If we want to contest one of these tickets, we would take our complaint before an employee of the corporation-NOT a sworn officer of any sort.
Oklahoma’s RFP reveals that;
The winning company would install, test, maintain and operate the cameras. It would mail tickets to vehicle owners. It would run a toll-free hotline and conduct hearings where motorists would contest camera tickets before a camera company employee instead of a judge
Privatization is a good thing in some instances. This is not one of them.
Also, these are not simply cameras.
The camera is one aspect of the system and probably the most benign portion at that. It is the database that makes ALPR (Automatic License Plate Recognition) what it is.
How do the ALPR cameras know if you are uninsured or not? It checks your plate against a database. This is how the cameras can also check and see if your plate is listed on any “hotlists” A hotlist could be created for stolen cars, criminal suspects or any other group you can think of from tot stealers to Tea Partiers. Running plates against hotlists is akin to being randomly thrown into a lineup, albeit a virtual one, it still carries the same risks as a real line up and should not be done absent probable cause. This is a dragnet and it is unconstitutional.
And for all the fear about being monitored by the government, there is far too much traffic and activity to notice anything other than outrageous behavior in real time.
That would be true if the cameras were monitored by human beings. That is not how it works hence the name AUTOMATIC License Plate Recognition. Advances in computing capability allows for rapid, massive data processing, matching and storage. Algorithms search, sort and identify almost instantaneously. There is no limit to the processing powers of modern computers as there will always be with human beings.
This is one of the new aspects of surveillance that many fail to take into consideration. Catch up.
The “Borg” Pundit says;
However, the feeds from these cameras would be a useful resource in the event of terrorist attacks or violent crimes.
We no longer wait until an actual crime has been committed to react. That is the way of the “old paradigm”
You may be unaware that we are doing things a little differently these days. A lot of people are, but since you speak as if from some authority, you should know the facts.
Since 9 11, the US government has adopted the idea that by collecting, collating and sharing massive amounts information crime and terrorism can be prevented. This strategy is derived directly from a school of thought on policing known as Intelligence Led Policing. This is the same new, driving philosophy for policing that made
fusion centers possible.
Intelligence Led Policing is a philosophy of law enforcement and policing imported from the UK and is often referred to the “New Paradigm” of policing.
The best way to get a grasp on the new paradigm is to recall what the old paradigm was;
The old paradigm was based upon the belief that individuals have an unalienable right to life, liberty, and property granted us by our Creator.
Americans have a justified expectation that the government instituted to protect life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness will always afford due respect for the autonomy and privacy of law abiding individuals.
In America we are accustomed to a system of law that operates with the presumption of innocence as a cornerstone for the purpose of promoting justice. Those who offer the argument that “if you have nothing to hide, you have nothing fear” are missing the boat. It doesn’t work that way any longer.
The New Paradigm requires collecting and analyzing massive amounts of data, not limited to criminals or suspects but about all us. It is preemptive rather than reactive. The New Paradigm wants our police forces to be part of the ever expanding intelligence apparatus.
According to Michael Chertoff;
Former Secretary of the Dept. of Homeland Security Chertoff hits on another important point. ALPR is only one out of many sensors being used to collect data on us. Your phone, RFID tags, CCTV’s, even your new “smart meter” serve to collect information about each of us and this information is shared and aggregated in order to give the government a more complete picture of our lives. Data is examined algorithmically to try and reveal patterns that might indicate some hostile intent on our part.
Finally, there are already a number of cameras that view us in public: turnpike cameras to catch toll violators, traffic cameras to monitor road conditions, the view from the local news station, John Angier in the back corner at political events, dashboard cams on police cars, security feeds at businesses and government facilities. Whatever privacy one is expecting in public is long since gone.
And this statement illustrates the same deeply flawed logic that assures that we will eventually lose what Justice Louis Brandeis spoke so eloquently about;
“The makers of the Constitution: conferred, as against the government, the right to be let alone –the most comprehensive of rights and the right most valued by civilized men.”
–Justice Louis Brandeis
As a matter of fact, the false belief of the inevitability of these technological intrusions and the apathy that results from that belief is what the security and technology industry is banking on.
This is a portion of a slide taken from Fleishman-Hillard’s strategic presentation given to the Auto-ID industry to help them to overcome the pub lic’s antipathy toward RFID tagging.
They did their research and found that;
Initial response to the ‘base technology’ is neutral
Benefits are seen as for business only after consideration are negatives seen
• Consumer benefits seen as negligible No balancing the negatives with positives
• Consumers feel they have no personal choice
Virtually all groups spontaneously said that the ‘chip should be able to be killed'(their language).
The industry began working to “develop best messages to pacify”
The researchers acknowledged that the problem was that the RFID technology when used on an intimate level as with individual product tagging or ID cards, the consumers recognized that there was little if any benefits for them but a huge potential for the technology to be used in an intrusive manner.
From their studies they learned that with Americans the key to overcoming resistance was to push the notion that the technology was inevitable which provoked apathy.
Congratulations. You are bearing witness to the genius of the social manipulators.
You are reacting just as they predicted the typical American would.