L.A. Politician Proposes Bold Plan To Wreck Homes, Destroy Lives And Abuse License Plate Reader Technology
from the conversely,-the-government-is-able-to-fuck-you-free-of-charge dept
Nick Selby says an LA councilwoman has just proposed "the worst use of license plate data in history." He's not lying.
Automatic license plate readers gather tons of plate/location data, which can then be used for law enforcement purposes (when not being sold to, or by, private entities to insurance companies, repossession firms, etc.). The plate/location data may help recover stolen vehicles or track mobile criminals, but they also create massive databases of people's movements. This can create a chilling effect on motorists, as someone said to Selby at a surveillance-focused conference.
“The issue is the potentially chilling effect that this technology has on freedom of association and freedom of transportation.”Cue chilling effect.
That’s literally the phrase that leapt into my mind when I read the monumentally over-reaching idea posed by Nury Martinez, a 6th district Los Angeles city councilwoman, to access a database of license plates captured in certain places around the city, translate these license plates to obtain the name and address of each owner, and send to that owner a letter explaining that the vehicle was seen in, “an area known for prostitution.”This should create some additional household friction in the Los Angeles area. There's nothing like a letter from the city informing a vehicle owner that their car was spotted in an area known for prostitution, with the underlying assumption that the only reason a vehicle would be in these areas is because the driver was looking to exchange money for sexual favors.
Martinez says the non-guilty have nothing to worry about, because she's an idiot.
Councilwoman Martinez feels that prostitution is not a “victimless” crime, and that by discouraging johns, the incidence of the crime can be reduced. Martinez told CBS Los Angeles, “If you aren’t soliciting, you have no reason to worry about finding one of these letters in your mailbox. But if you are, these letters will discourage you from returning. Soliciting for sex in our neighborhoods is not OK.”There are plenty of legitimate reasons for someone to be in an area law enforcement has determined is "known for solicitation." Many drivers live or work in areas "known for prostitution." Many other drivers may have to drive through areas "known for prostitution" to shop, go to work, or just get to the nearest freeway entrance ramp. So, there are plenty of reasons to "worry" about being falsely labelled as a john by the city. And it won't be the city that has to deal with the fallout. It will be the families that are destroyed by Martinez's horrifically misguided proposal.
Even if innocent drivers toss the letters before they do any damage to their personal relationships, each letter generated from this abuse of technology meant to aid police in locating stolen vehicles and/or dangerous criminals will create a public record that can be requested and published by nearly anyone. So, even if a person throws the letter in the garbage after receiving it, someone else could make this information public -- threatening personal relationships, damaging reputations and possibly costing people their jobs. And all because their vehicle happened to be in an arbitrarily "wrong place" at the wrong time.
Selby reports the city council is currently working with the district attorney to see how -- or if -- this can be implemented. Hopefully, someone more aware of the legal ramifications of this proposal will shut it down before it does any damage.