TLO, an 'online investigation system', has added LPR tracking to its offering, according to the company's June 28th press release, with one billion vehicle sightings in its database, growing by 50 million each month. Anyone can sign up and search for any plate.
"The service charges $10 per category of each license plate look up, divided into current, recent and historical. Cars are photographed or filmed and then matched with license plate recognition software... I searched for my own car, as well that those of two relatives with their permission. Of five cars that I looked up, three cars turned up nothing, but I found data on the other two."
I'm not at all surprised. While many of us have been decrying government snooping into our private lives, the dirty little secret is that private industry is the worst offender. I know I've ranted on this before but I received a wake up call a few years ago when I attended a meeting where LexisNexis was invited to make a presentation. Despite the meeting's venue, they proceeded to demonstrate what I felt were huge invasions of privacy. When I questioned why we would need to know things like people's Social Security numbers or if someone had ever known a sex offender (even years before the person exhibited such traits), the presenter explained that he thought law enforcement personnel would be attending the presentation. Yeah sure!
With the combination of government and private industry actively seeking to know everything about everyone, we should all be very concerned.
My main concern is if some creep sees my daughter or wife driving down the road, for $10 he knows where to find her later.
Disclosure - I have installed fixed ALPR systems for several local law enforcement agencies. Generally they are comparing license plate reads to national and state "hot list" databases for outstanding warrants, stolen vehicles, Amber alerts, etc. Occasionally they use it to attempt to track recently stolen vehicles in the area or to assist in active investigations such as robbery or homicide. As far as I know they do not sell the data and at most they keep it for 30 to 90 days. All of those plate reads with context images can fill up a 10GB SQL database fairly quick on busier roads.
Grocke, to my understanding, it is the car repossession agencies that are the sources of this problem (i.e., they scan plates looking for cars to repossess and they make some bonus bucks selling your family's license plate recorders to third parties).
"I take absolute exception to any government telling me that I can't go into public and take video," [the repo man] says. "That's taking my freedoms away." He estimates his company has snapped "hundreds of millions" of photos of plates nationwide."
I was just recently introduced to an iPhone app called Docket in Your Pocket which lets you search court dockets by name. So for only $3.99 you, too, can see all of my parking tickets in Lehigh County. I know that this is public information, but I still don't love it.
"Usually I go along with whatever police enforcement needs to do to keep us safe, so I figure they must have people stealing cars and that sort of thing," says 86-year-old Virginia Rose. That attitude of blind trust in government has gotten us to where we are today.
And now we have Lizard Lick's seedy relatives claiming it's their right to collect and sell license plate info? What a world we live in!
This is very concerning John. I agree with Carl, we Americans are to blame for allowing the government to run away with our freedoms without much of a fight. We all have gotten so concerned with our own situations that we forgot to be concerned and voice that concern on time to the people who are representing us at all levels of government. Career politicians and private interest groups have injured this country perhaps beyond repair.
Allowing the government to track Americans at any level would have been a crime prior to 911. Since then we have stood by and let these politicians take away freedoms under the guise of protectionism. Since then we have unprecedented levels of surveillance at all levels of government. America is a police state.
Welcome to the new United Stasi of America.
You may think this is dramatic and an overstatement. Remember history often repeats itself. Do some homework on Germany's history and surveillance practices utilizing the Stasi. Then make your own comparison to the behavior of US government.
Considering the fact that you volunteer most of your personal information on Google+ and Linkedin, it is a bit dramatic to be concerned about LPR...
Last week I got a "Notice of Toll evasion" in the mail. Since it wasn't my license plate number, I looked for a similar service online to help me figure out the mistake. I tracked it down to my local auto maintenance shop which made a mistake with a loaner I got from them.
Depending on which side of the law we are, these services can become useful to all of us one way or another.
We gave up our privacy when we got on social networks, blogs and online shopping.