The Newest Growth Market For License Plate Readers Is Those Assholes Running The Local Homeowners Association
from the 'we-feel-people-don't-hate-us-enough-already' dept
Everyone loves surveillance creep. Well, by everyone, I mean the government and the vendors that sell to them. Automatic license plate readers have made their way from police cruisers to malls, as has facial recognition tech that very often fails to actually recognize people.
The “everyone” may now include the near-fascist organizations turning neighborhoods into glittering shrines of conformity. I’m talking about homeowners’ associations — the anal-retentive busybodies who want to make sure your grass is cut to the correct length and that no one’s offending passersby with creative mailboxes.
The Denver Post reports the newest customers for surveillance tech is HOAs and gated communities.
License plate readers posted at both entrances to an upscale Aurora neighborhood snapped pictures of passing cars Wednesday, recording the type, color and license plate number of each vehicle and inputting that information into a database.
Such technology used to be relegated to law enforcement. But these cameras were purchased by the local homeowner association in January after a few burglaries of cars and a home in the neighborhood. Red signs near the cameras warn passersby of “24/7 Video Recording.”
“It’s going to keep us safer,” said Richard Warshaw, president of the Bel-Aire Estates Owners Association.
I don’t want to make too many assumptions, but click through to take a look at Richard Warshaw, who appears to be exactly the way I’d expect him to look.
Anyway, this is the growth market for vendors with surveillance tech to sell. Spy gadgets have gone from military to police to business owners to bitter busybodies who want to know everything about everyone who passes through their carefully — and forcefully — curated neighborhoods.
Flock Safety appears to be one of the bigger players in the HOA ALPR business. Its site makes a handful of dubious claims in the space of a single splash box, including the audacious assertion that only its product prevents crime.
I attempted to discuss this claim with the FlockBot, but only got asked for my email address and phone number so the company could pitch some of its camera “solutions” that *squints at screenshots* “capture vehicle lice plates.”
This only raises my confidence in the quality of Flock’s products.
Back at the Denver HOA, it appears the private surveillance approval process isn’t that much different than the public surveillance approval process. In other words, input from the general public is ignored.
Warshaw said the five-person board of the homeowner association decided to add the three cameras and use money from the neighborhood’s dues to pay for it. The entire 75-home neighborhood did not vote on the decision, but Warshaw said he hadn’t heard any negative feedback.
Following government precedent, the HOA’s deployment of ALPRs is also pretty much unjustifiable.
Warshaw, who has lived in the neighborhood since 2005, admitted that one home burglary in 15 years is not exactly a rash of crime.
Warshaw insists the product makes residents “feel safer.” This is a really curious [pronounced “bullshit”] claim, considering residents don’t appear to have been asked their opinion, before or after the purchase.
I guess the only opinion that matters is that of the “leadership,” whether it’s a city council approving the tech behind closed doors or HOAs doing the same thing. As the Denver Post points out, surveillance tech deployment continues to increase while crime rates continue to decline. These declines preceded the mass rollout of ALPRs, Stingrays, and facial recognition tech, strongly suggesting law enforcement agencies (and HOAs!) had ways to deal with criminal activity that didn’t involve pointing invasive tech in the direction of non-criminals.
Finally, Flock Safety — the preferred provider of HOA surveillance tech — makes a completely incongruous, if not completely impossible, claim on its website. Whoever approved this copy should be forced to stand naked in front of the nearest CCTV camera until I get tired of mocking them.
Please explain to me how “privacy” is being “protected” by giving law enforcement instant access to license plate photos. The FlockBot remains silent on the issue, but really really really wants to annoy you with emails and sales rep calls.