Sept. 8, 2011
ALPR or Automatic License Plate Recognition is a technology being used for mass surveillance You may be familiar with these devices as “spy cams, an accurate nickname for the devices.
License-plate recognition is a function of highly specialized software programs that allow computers to;
1) take photographs of automobile traffic provided by video surveillance cameras,
2) focus upon the license plate of each and every vehicle that’s been photographed,
3) “read” and record the series of numbers and/or letters imprinted on the plate, and check to see if and how this information is contained in the (various) database(s). Such checks can identify plates/cars/drivers who have arrest warrants, expired registrations, or cars reported as stolen,
4) can bill ordinary, law-abiding citizens for their use of highways or border-crossings,
5) can be done in a matter of seconds, and can be done (again) when another camera is encountered
8) allows the (various) database(s) to keep track of the movements, destinations, and speeds of plates/cars/drivers who have been identified (i.e., all of them). http://www.notbored.org/license-plate-recognition.html
Mass Surveillance is “The pervasive surveillance of an entire population, or a substantial fraction thereof” www.allwords.com
Back in 2010, Oklahoman’s were outraged to find that then Governor Henry had planned on installing some 200 of these spy cams around the state ostensibly to be used to catch uninsured motorists (which nearly everyone detests) and fine them for their lapses. I say ostensibly because these little spy cams are versatile and there was every indication that plans were being laid for using them for so much more!
As I pointed out in 2010;
Why do we need ALPR???
Uninsured motorists? Sure but here is where the real money is! This is why these devices are so important to the state. With interoperability and ubiquitous cameras, our government can charge us every time our wheels roll if they want.
The system will also be great for all sorts of fines and fees. Really anything that can be attached to your motor vehicle records could be collected through the ALPR system. Rather like the “deadbeat dad” DMV SSN racket. In some states they already use these things to collect back taxes. What are you going to do? Walk? No. This is why state motor vehicle agencies never have a problem with debt. No pay-no drive. No work, no visits, no R and R. We have to have our vehicles!
Beginning this month, Oklahoma will be participating in a License Plate Interoperability Pilot Program. From Sept. 26-Dec 26 2011 seven to eight tolling authorities will collect and pool all license plate and associated data captured Read more
“The hubs will centralize accessing databases of vehicles and owner addresses and accounts to reduce the costs and improve the efficiency of collecting tolls.”
Here are the participating groups;
E-470 CO, Florida Turnpike, MdTA, NTTA, Oklahoma Turnpike, TCA Orange Co CA, Washington DOT. link
It is worth reiterating what I have said about this in the past;
It is not a new manner of charging for tolls that bothers me so much. It is the fact that spy cameras are going to be the method of charging and that the data collected for this purpose will be kept and used for a number of other purposes such as intelligence gathering.
. . .the charging will not likely be limited to simply tolling. Mileage and usage taxes based on zones and time of day, video enabled ticketing and a vast array of other creative revenue enhancement are part and parcel of the ALPR scamera plan.
But you are a law abiding person, right? Why should you worry?
You should worry because these systems track everybody and policing today is not just about catching the criminal. Now it’s “predictive policing” and in order to predict what individuals may do in the future, you have to have lots of data on everyone.
Elliot D. Cohen, Ph.D who has written a book on where we are fast heading if we don’t snap out of our complacency about technological surveillance. He does a great job at showing us the bigger picture.
“Basically what I’m saying is that there’s evidence for thinking that we’re moving in a direction of a controlled society, a controlled culture. It isn’t that we’re one hundred percent there, but there are dangerous trends, and if we don’t do anything to offset them, then we really will be in some serious trouble.” link
Another snippet from Dr. Cohen’s writings;
“Unfortunately, the prognosis for the survival of the free world is quite bleak if the stated trends are not stopped very soon. It is the ever constant creep of a culture of control that presents the most insidious danger. As we begin to accept increasingly greater and greater restrictions on our civil liberties, the technology to further abridge these liberties continues to expand and lead the way to even greater abridgements. This process is subtle and we are not likely to notice that our freedom is gone until it is too late, or maybe not even then. In the end, we may consider ourselves a “free” people but have little understanding of what that even means.” Mass Surveillance and State Control: The Total Information Awareness Project
Here is a list of questions that need to be asked about your data that is being collected on Oklahoma’s toll roads;
QUESTION TO ASK ABOUT ALPR
- What specifically will the cameras be used for?
- What makes using these surveillance devices the best of all possible enforcement options?
- What other capabilities are inherent with this system?
- Do any agencies in or state or nation have any plans for future uses of this system?
- What specific information will be collected through this system?
- What other data can/will be combined or attached to the data collected by this system?
- What system is used to transmit or store this data?
- What other agencies (list) have access to the system used to transmit or store this data?
- Under what conditions is this information going to be shared?
- How are funds from fines collected due to this system distributed?
- What company/companies were the proposal sent to? What and how many databases will the LPR be connected to?
- Who will have access to the data, and by what means?
- Should drivers expect this system to be utilized for the purpose of charging them mileage/usage/congestion fees?
- How long would images/data be retained?
The Oklahoma Turnpike Authority can be contacted at
Hours: Monday – Friday 7:30 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. CST
If you have trouble getting answers from the Oklahoma Turnpike Authority (which has been my expericence) your elected state representatives might have better luck.
House members here
Senate members here
If you don’t know who your representative is, click here