The High Cost of Eliminating Human Error
Government agencies are always giving excuses for why they “need” to violate your privacy rights.
One of the worst privacy violations in recent memory— not a small list— is the rise in use of license plate trackers.
The freedom of movement is a basic human right. The right to move between states is recognized in our Constitution. Most states in the union recognize the freedom of movement within the state.
If government authorities constantly monitor your movements, are your movements still really free? Monitoring changes the basic nature of things. We’ve gone from having free movement to having “allowed” movement.
But the powers that be insist that we “need” license plate readers to help catch bad guys and to improve public safety.
One of the unintended and unforeseen consequences is that many officers now blindly follow what technology is telling them, instead of thinking for themselves.
Pulled Over At Gunpoint
Case in point …
Not too long ago, in California, near San Francisco, police removed a woman from her car at gunpoint.
A license plate reader had flagged her car as stolen. Multiple police cars converged on her. She pulled over. Several officers exited their vehicles, with guns drawn, ordering her from the car.
They ordered her to put her hands above her head and get down on her knees.
Despite having knee problems, she complied.
They handcuffed her. Four officers kept their weapons trained on her even while she was handcuffed. Other officers searched her car. After all of that, they didn’t find anything incriminating, so eventually, they released her.
A license plate reader told them she was in a stolen car. The police were just doing their jobs… except for one thing. The description of the stolen car was for gray truck. The flagged car—the one they pulled over—was a dark red sedan.
But how did this happen? It was an honest mistake, right?
Not one responding officer thought to check the information on the stolen vehicle. They reacted without thought or question to bad information provided by questionable technology.
And they terrorized an innocent woman in the process.
Fortunately, in this case, the police did realize that an error had been made before they arrested the woman and had her jailed. But how comfortable are you, really, with police who follow blindly after technology without exercising a little of their own human judgment?
This is not an isolated incident.
Another example …
In April 2014, a lawyer driving through a quiet suburban neighborhood found himself quite suddenly pinned in by police vehicles.
The responding officer who approached him had his gun drawn, though he didn’t level it at the lawyer. In this case, a license plate reader had mistaken a 7 for a 2 and sent police after a law-abiding citizen in a BMW. They should have been looking for a stolen Oldsmobile.
Another Giant Database
Errors like these have the potential to go very badly. A frightened citizen could resist arrest or try to run. Then, having been innocent going into the situation, he’d come out of it with a record that could cause difficulties throughout his life.
The trouble with these license plate readers isn’t just about the potential for errors. And it isn’t just about how they change the relationship between law enforcement officers and citizens.
Another big problem with these readers is the database that stores the data they collect.
The readings from these scanners are stored, in some cases indefinitely. In Minneapolis, a reporter requested the gathered data tied to his car be released to him. When it was he discovered that his car was tagged—and it’s location noted—an average of seven times a day. Think of the map of your movements that a government agency could put together from that information.
This level of privacy violation in the name of greater security is simply unacceptable.
That’s why I urge you take steps to protect yourself. I share several options here.
I also urge you to voice your opinion to state and city lawmakers about the growing pervasiveness of license plate readers and the ridiculous data storage that goes along with it.
P.S. – Keeping your information private IS still possible. I’ll show you how. You can get the full scoop in the newly revised Ultimate Guide to Low-Profile Living. When you do, you’ll be on your way to creating a lower profile than 99% of the population… >>Watch the Video Now: 253 Strategies for Low-Profile Living<<