[Center for Investigative Reporting]
When the city of San Leandro, Calif., purchased a license-plate
reader for its police department in 2008, computer security consultant
Michael Katz-Lacabe asked the city for a record of every time the
scanners had photographed his car.
The results shocked him.
The paperback-size device, installed on the outside of police cars,
can log thousands of license plates in an eight-hour patrol shift.
Katz-Lacabe said it had photographed his two cars on 112 occasions,
including one image from 2009 that shows him and his daughters stepping
out of his Toyota Prius in their driveway.
That photograph, Katz-Lacabe said, made him “frightened and concerned
about the magnitude of police surveillance and data collection.” The
single patrol car in San Leandro equipped with a plate reader had logged
his car once a week on average, photographing his license plate and
documenting the time and location.
At a rapid pace, and mostly hidden from the public, police agencies
throughout California have been collecting millions of records on
drivers and feeding them to intelligence fusion centers operated by
local, state and federal law enforcement.
With heightened concern over secret intelligence operations at the
National Security Agency, the localized effort to track drivers
highlights the extent to which the government has committed to
collecting large amounts of data on people who have done nothing wrong.-[Full Article]