As the police surveillance state expands daily, these stories are becoming routine, and the reach of government tracking of average citizens gets a little wider everyday.
Via the patch, the newest police monitoring technology devices are in Skokie. The police department is scanning, logging and tracking the license plates of every car within the vicinity of these mobile surveillance platform, mounting on a police car.
In addition to tracking the identification of every vehicle by time and GPS location, the system matches the plate number with it’s own law enforcement databases to instantly alert the officer in the police vehicle to a car with a nearby “issue” that has been flagged.
These warnings can crop up for everything from an inspired inspection sticker, to a registered sex offender in proximity to a school, a stolen car, or a driver with a suspended license, outstanding warrant, or anyone sought by the police for questioning.
Building a Surveillance State
These technology gets more powerful and pervasive everyday. This article casually notes how easy it is to log every vehicle nearby a crime scene for later questioning. So depending on where your car may have been parked at any time in the past, you can expect the police to show up if you happen to have inadvertently been near some event that happened, which you had nothing to do with, or no knowledge of.
While some people don’t find this intrusive or disturbing, many others would argue that nothing good ever happens when the police show up at your house and look around.
It is also mentioned that this equipment was paid for with a Justice Assistance Stimulus Grant Fund. Typically with these federal grants, the local police department is obligated to share all of the data collected with federal homeland security databases as a condition of the funding. So your driving habits in Illinois are automatically tracked by the federal government, whether you like it or not. One town in Massachusetts recently balked at this condition, and paid for their own system so they could keep control of their data, and exercise their own oversight. Good for them for being a rare case of a City government taking civil liberties concerns seriously.
With all of this data being collected nationwide, including the use of fixed ALPR cameras on highways in use by the DEA, there will soon be all kinds of data on your travel habits, with no clear legal restrictions on who can access this information, and for what purpose.
But until more people are aware of what is happening, and actually care about this issue, the surveillance state will quietly roll on.