Security Manufacturer Sues US State Over LPR Restrictions

By: Carlton Purvis, Published on Feb 18, 2014

LPR is the most successful video analytic in security, so successful that it is increasingly becoming ubiquitous. With a hundred million plus licenses plates being scanned annually, companies are bundling this information for data mining and tracking but this is raising serious security concerns. Now it has become a legal battle between security companies and state governments who are banning the technology.

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Comments (13)


: a spoken expression of ideas, opinions, etc., that is made by someone who is speaking in front of a group of people

: the ability to speak

: spoken language

Speaking is doing something, but doing something isn't necessarily speaking. Sounds to me like they're grasping at straws.

If what they're doing is "speech", I'd guess the NSA can claim the same thing.

It wouldn't be the first time government legislates about something there was no previous legislation for.

All forms of communication is seen as covered by free speech laws and have been for a long time, though, which is why I can wave a sign saying "the mayor is a big stinkyhead" or telegraph "the governor needs to maybe lose a few pounds" via Morse code without having to open my mouth.

Even commercial speech is covered, which is why I can hand someone a leaflet saying "HDcctv is totally the best thing ever, you should buy it because of how awesome it is!" in the middle of the street.

The question is, is the collection of data by a commercial entity free speech?

Ari - I agree with you that speech can take many forms, including all of those you describe, but collection of data isn't one of them. If anything, they are listening and collecting "speech" from others, the same way that an LE agency might be collecting evidence when it's wire-tapping.

Something else. Its doubtful anyone in their right mind is ready to believe that putting a licence plate on a vehicule even qualifies as "speech"....well, maybe if it's a personalized LP.

Good for Utah and New Hampshire. More states should follow suit.

Many worry about the government's intrusion into our private lives, and rightly so. But what many are unaware of is how much private industry also intrudes. Web browsing tracking is just the tip of the iceberg. More and more retail stores are tracking customers' smart phones. I see that expanding outside of the stores themselves.

ALPR is one of the next steps. Companies like LexisNexis gather data for law enforcement, businesses and other clients. Although these companies like to tout how they help track down crime and improve business marketing as separate functions, in reality there is a large crossover between their legal and marketing branches. When you add ALPR and cell phone tracking into the mix, you will be tracked everywhere you go.

There are two old adages:

  • "They that can give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety." -- Ben Franklin, 1759.
  • "Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it" -- George Santayana

The first applies directly to this and the second is a reminder to look at the repression of freedoms in countries like the former Soviet Union, Libya, North Korea and Sudan. Add the technology to track citizens' every move and George Orwell becomes less fiction writer and more prophet.

And then there's this.

This is slightly off topic, but have you been watching the CBS show Person of Interest?

Last night's episode was about what could potentially happen when corporate/government and personal concerns about the use of information clash and was particularly troubling.

Yes, it's drama, but the examples used in the scenario weren't that far fetched, based on everything we read and see in the news media and on the Internet these days.

From that article:

In an attempt to affirm the data's security, a rep for the Immigration Customs Enforcement agency stressed to the Post that "this database would be run by a commercial enterprise, and the data would be collected and stored by the commercial enterprise, not the government."

Should we get the warm and fuzzies because the government is trying to skirt the issue by having their "dirty" work done by a private contractor? If anything, it should make the public even more uncomfortable.

Increasingly government agencies are turning over this kind of stuff to private companies. More than one public official has said one reason is because it helps keep security information from being obtained through public records requests.

Beat me to it. Perhaps a law extending FoIA requests to the records of government contractors?

That would be nice, but big the contractors like Lockheed, General Dynamics, etc. probably have the $$ and influence to make sure that never happens. If government immunity can be granted to contractors in some cases where they are doing work for the government, I don't see why other regulations shouldn't apply.

You need to understand that if this info is used to identify the vehicle owner, there may be an issue where ANY LPR camera becomes illegal because ALL states require a liscence and a tag and they ARE interconnected. ANY LPR camera usage by ANYONE may violate the 5th amendment protection against self incrimination. Driving a vehicle is no longer a "privilige" but has become a right for anyone who has a job. You know and I know it. We can't be certain of this Administration however. If they didn't come up with the idea......

This is why I text while I drive, so I don't accidently view the license plate number of the car in front of me because I respect their privacy that much. I'll have plenty of time to write it down when I hit the car, but wait, if I write it down I'll be recognizing and recording the plate number. Sounds like the only solution is we all drive the same brand, model, color, style of car with no identifying information like plate numbers or VINS.

What I don't understand is why California wants new guns designed so the casings are imprinted with information that can trace the round back to the gun, that's crazy, I don't want anyone identifying bullets I fire. especially rounds I may fire at the LPR cameras the government is using.

Just kidding, I work in the world of data and anlytics for many years, I've worked on projects where you would not believe the level of data that is available for purchase from companies like Polk, American Express, Facebook, Twitter, Experian not to mention all the public records. LPR is a joke, why, because your phone already tracks everywhere you go, the government made that mandatory, and even though you can turn it off for marketing purpose, the government can track every movement and no way to turn it off from them. NSA & Ed Snowden are just the tip of the iceburg and nothing we can do about it.

Get prepared to see another possible suit if Massachusetts passes a law they're looking at now that would prohibit private companies from collecting license plate data (and limit law enforcement retention of that data to 48 hours, which would likely make the technology less appealing).

The bill, SB1648, limits the use of ALPR to "state, county, or municipal law enforcement agencies" and specifically exempts "any individual, partnership, corporation, association, or state or local government entity."

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