Nobody apparently wants to be late to the Orwellian party. Now the locals want in on the invade your privacy game. Not enough to know who you are talking to, we must know where you have been as well.
The Union Tribune ran an interesting story today, SANDAG knows where you've been Regional program collects and stores license plate data. It turns out that Sandag is taking pictures of your license plates. Lots of pictures.
'Police vehicles equipped with cameras pointing every direction canvass parking lots and streets, gathering data about the time, date and place individual license plates are spotted.The information gets fed into a database maintained by the San Diego Association of Governments, a transportation and planning organization, cross-referenced with information on stolen vehicles and used to track down the bad guys.The data trove had 32 million data points as of January, with 2 million records added each month.'The cops want pictures of your car, just in case you ever decide to commit a crime.
Entrepreneur Michael Robertson, 46, sees the warehousing of such data very differently, as an affront to privacy and opening for government abuse. He asked SANDAG to divulge information it had collected on him, and when the agency refused, he sued.“They (the government) may collect it under the guise of stopping child molesters or catching terrorists or looking for stolen cars,” Robertson said. “It’s always a good premise, but ultimately when they have this data they can’t help but seem to use it for bad purposes, and I think that’s a real concern, and we’re seeing that exactly happen right now with the IRS and the NSA.”Robertson filed his challenge late last month in San Diego Superior Court.At least one other agency in the state has handed over records similar to what Robertson requested, though an expert said the legal limits of disclosure under the California Public Records Act are still being tested.
In denying Robertson’s request for any records dealing with his own vehicle, SANDAG cited an exception to state public records law that shields information used in a police investigation — something he said does not apply to his situation.“I’m not a drug dealer. I have two kids, drive a minivan,” Robertson said. “I’m not aware of any wrongdoing I’m suspected of.“My strong assumption is they’re just declaring 3 million people in San Diego County as being under investigation.”They say not to worry, that they get rid of the data after a couple years. The EFF thinks that their refusal to disclose is on shaky legal ground, the public-records exception being cited can only be used in cases where the investigative work involving the records is ongoing, not for more blanket crime prevention purposes.
Take pictures of everybody, driving anywhere, anytime. If it stops one poor sap rolling through a stop sign, it will certainly be worth it.