Auto Tracking

Interesting, in depth report from the ACLU on the subject of license plate tracking. If you’d rather read the shorter version try this.
Anonymity, identity, transparency, fear, pride … these are all themes I cover daily in this blog. I was listening to Allie Bohm defend her article on the radio. She’s essentially making the case that, any cop or hacker could find out where you are going to church, what doctors you go to, etc. Perhaps it’s boiled down best in this one line from the report:

“And license plate readers can be used for tracking people’s movements for months or years on end, chilling the exercise of our cherished rights to free speech and association.” – ACLU report

I am not ready to say that free speech and association should also be guaranteed to be anonymous.

First of all, roads are public domain. Driving is a privilege, not a right. We are subject to certain rules on roads and we are not afforded privacy.

Secondly, the example of the extra marital affair is referenced a few times here. I do not care about the privacy of a cheater. If I am afraid to tell my spouse what I am doing, perhaps I should not be doing it. Or, I could call a taxi.

But what if there is a doctor I visit weekly that I’d like to be kept private, such as a psychologist? Well, perhaps I need to think a little about why I am ashamed to admit the fact. There’s nothing wrong with it.

If a police officer wants to create a map of my movements over the last six months, they will be bored and wasting their time. On the other hand, if they were able to establish a pattern of stalking behavior of a rapist, which could assist in putting that rapist behind bars, then that is amazing and we need this technology.

That leads me to my third and final objection: I’m not so sure deleting all the unused data is a great idea, as the ACLU is proposing. It could come in handy later on, just like DNA records are currently exonerating many wrongfully jailed people right now.

Certainly, there should be some oversight, and I would favor very stiff penalties for those who access the data for personal reasons. Let’s keep it professional. Let’s keep it secure. But let’s keep it.

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