ABA Journal



Federal Cameras Are Snapping Time-Stamped Pix of License Plates in 4 Border States

Jul 11, 2012, 06:54 pm CDT


What those cameras really do is to strip you and me of our right to live our lives free of our government tracking our every move. SCOTUS recently ruled that when government agents placed a GPS tracking device on a suspect's car, that constitued an illegal search. These tracking camers accomplish the same thing as putting a GPS tracking device on every car and every citizen of the United States.

By davebert on 2012 07 12, 2:59 pm CDT

I really don't see a problem with this. I don't even see the difference between this and the cameras that are at traffic lights and used to catch people running lights and footage of accidents. If you're not doing anything illegal, I don't see it as a big deal at all. Get over it.

By What's the Difference on 2012 07 12, 3:31 pm CDT

@2 If you're in public, you have no expectation of privacy. Besides, private corporations have much more information about where you go, what you buy, what you do on a daily basis than the Federal Government could ever hope to know. In London, you can expect that all of your public movements are captured on CCTV cameras 24/7. Right now in the US, on any given public outing you take, you can expect your image to be captured on dozens of security cameras.
And if you don't want the government to know your every move, stop sending out all those darn Tweets and updating your Facebook account every time you have a bowel movement!

By faddking on 2012 07 12, 3:34 pm CDT

And why don't you think the border patrol is already entering your license plate into a database when you cross the border? One reason they ask you those questions is to give the database time to come back with a response. Even 20 years ago, for example, a friends motorcycle was stolen and 2 days later caught trying to cross the broder.

By Dr. Phun on 2012 07 12, 5:02 pm CDT

To the, "..if you have nothing to hide folks", you're not helping or contributing anything useful. Please walk into your nearest road and wait for the traffic.

By Anon on 2012 07 15, 6:16 pm CDT

All you have to do is get a second set of plates(wrecked autos ) and install them on a revolving
gizmo every time you pass thru the border...what fun the gov't will have trying to trace you.

By SFB on 2012 07 15, 6:40 pm CDT

Interestingly we just had a case here in Seattle where there was fatal shooting around a red light camera that may have images about that and other crimes. The problem is that the state law was written to specifically restrict the use of the images from the red light camera to enforcement of violations of running the red light. Any other use is prohibited, only enforcing the red light running penalty and review of an accident at that intersection is permitted. Police and others cannot use those images for any other reason.

The Seattle detectives were upset. If there were other cameras in use in that area… then they could try to get those images. The same laws apply to the new automated tolling cameras on some of the bridges now. Those particular images are only for toll collection and enforcement of toll payment. All other uses are prohibited.

I am glad for that limitation. Yes it limits the ability to investigate other issues but it was a good compromise for privacy and liberty.

Reference - Seattle Times, King5 News.

By Ben Tor on 2012 07 15, 6:41 pm CDT

I always love the folks who come into stories like this saying "If you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to worry about!" Tell that to the victims of McCarthy and the House Un-American Activities Commission. Just because you aren't breaking any laws doesn't mean you have no reason to fear government surveillance.

By Lachwen on 2012 07 15, 7:17 pm CDT

What's the Difference: "If you’re not doing anything illegal, I don’t see it as a big deal at all"

If you happen to be driving by there, you must be guilty. The court may not convict you, but you'll enjoy that court room and the jail cell while proving your innocence.

The problem is not with proper law enforcement doing an honest job - that's a good thing. The problem is everything ends up in the wrong hands. ALWAYS. For example, the military industrial complex.

The Founding Fathers point at you - "In the interest of intelligent dialog, this one should refrain from speech."

By Flounders on 2012 07 15, 7:54 pm CDT

The problem is, where does it all stop? We have been losing our liberties at a very accelerated rate. In addition, I believe civil servants are more corrupt these days than ever before. Though there may be restrictions on the use of this information, the law has abundant ways to sidestep them, either through legal loopholes or blatant disregard for these restrictions. Naivety seems to be the rule anymore.

By Skep on 2012 07 15, 8:28 pm CDT

"These tracking camers accomplish the same thing as putting a GPS tracking device on every car and every citizen of the United States."

No, they don't, because they aren't really "tracking cameras." They don't move around. If I never go near them, they never can take a picture of my license plate. And unlike putting a GPS tracking device on a car or person, they don't involve the government touching me or my property.

By PG on 2012 07 15, 9:17 pm CDT

2, sell not your liberty to purchase power. I try to honor the people that died trying to give us our rights by defending them. Your attitude insults them. Thank god (or whoever else if you don't believe in god) for people that will fight for our rights.

By Free American on 2012 07 15, 9:54 pm CDT

Anybody who thinks the cops didn't look at the red-light-camera photos, despite any law barring it, has their head so far up their tail end that they are in danger of turning inside-out.

They will look at it, claiming they are investigating a ticket issue, find what they really want, then make up a reason (broken tail light, failure to use turn signal, incomplete stop...the usual) to pull the driver over, or to locate and intimidate associates.

I'm not saying I don't want dangerous criminals apprehended, but I do expect cops to obey the law.

Unfortunately, they don't in far too many cases.

For instance, drug use. Steroid Abuse is more common in police departments across this country than it is in College and High School Football locker rooms. Red Cross doesn't even want cops to give blood because they have to dispose of it far too often when it comes back with steroids in it.

Police brutality? Anybody hear of Steroid Rage?

Traffic tickets...Ever hear of a cop getting a speeding ticket? Ever hear of cops, especially off-duty, exploding in road-rage incidents, often pulling a gun on somebody who pissed them off in traffic? Happens all the time and is usually swept under the rug because the responding officers always find in favor of theor co-worker. In court, it's a cops word (Likely, the judge knows the cop already too)against a mere citizen.

How about all the police shootings. Read today's about the inability to discipline cops even when they shoot an unarmed citizen IN THE BACK!

It is definately us against them, even when "us" is an outstanding citizen. I've read where cops have pulled their crap on Medal of Honor or SIlver Star awardees.

So, you know darn well that if there is some way for cops to lie, cheat or steal in order to gather evidence, they will do it without remorse, and without any likelihood of discipline for it, even if it is discovered.

Watch out folks, it could easily be you or your kids who end up on the other side of the corrupt blue line, possibly paying with their lives...

By tom on 2012 07 15, 9:59 pm CDT

Well said, Tom. Even when cops are suspected of a bad shoot or any other violation, they are put on "administrative leave with pay". Society rewards these misfits for their deeds against the public. All these cops getting busted for beating people is nothing new. It's just that now everyone carries a cellphone camera and they are finally getting caught. But don't get caught trying to document any of this. The cops will bust your chops and take your phone. To be fair, it's not all the cops fault. America has one of the highest rates of imprisonment in the world. Our lawmakers and judges are just as guilty. What it all boils down to is the almighty dollar.

By Skep on 2012 07 15, 10:35 pm CDT

@ #13: "They will look at it, claiming they are investigating a ticket issue, find what they really want, then make up a reason (broken tail light, failure to use turn signal, incomplete stop…the usual) to pull the driver over, or to locate and intimidate associates."

A small price to pay in border states with rampant illegal trafficking of drugs, weapons and human chattel.

By Esq. on 2012 07 17, 2:32 am CDT

Just because we can, should we? If I leave the border and drive a long distance in a short time will that be a reason to stop me on suspicion of my being a trafficker? Often original ideas are great until some clever person finds an unforseen use. The great war on terrorism has allowed teh government to exercise powers not every one agres with. The ends do ntojustify the means. I for one don't want the government able to observe my every move, of investigate when they can't. Evenif I have nothing to hide.

By Anton on 2012 07 17, 3:49 pm CDT

If I'm not doing anything wrong, why am I being recorded? Guilty until proven otherwise?

By don't get it on 2012 07 18, 6:17 pm CDT

REALLY, Esq? You call yourself a lawyer, yet have no respect for the rule of law?

Police corruption and dishonesty is ALWAYS too high a price to pay.

By emjaycee on 2012 07 25, 8:52 am CDT

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