from the use-virtual-reality,-instead? dept.
Federal agents have persuaded police officers to scan license plates to gather information about gun-show customers, government emails show, raising questions about how officials monitor constitutionally protected activity.
Emails reviewed by The Wall Street Journal show agents with the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency crafted a plan in 2010 to use license-plate readers—devices that record the plate numbers of all passing cars—at gun shows in Southern California, including one in Del Mar, not far from the Mexican border.
Agents then compared that information to cars that crossed the border, hoping to find gun smugglers, according to the documents and interviews with law-enforcement officials with knowledge of the operation.
First they came for the Muslims, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Muslim.
A bill in the California Senate would allow drivers to cover their license plates when parked to prevent automated license plate readers from reading them. Law enforcement (or somebody else) would have to manually lift the cover to obtain the license plate number:
If the Electronic Frontier Foundation and a San Diego-based Republican state senator have their way, it will soon become legal for Californians to cover their license plates while parked as a way to thwart automated license plate readers.
[...] As written, the new senate bill would allow for law enforcement to manually lift a cover, or flap, as a way to manually inspect a plate number. The idea is not only to prevent dragnet license plate data collection by law enforcement, but also by private companies. A California company, Vigilant Solutions, is believed to have the largest private ALPR database in America, with billions of records.
Ars is unaware of a commercially available product that would allow a license plate to be easily blocked in this fashion. A man in Florida was arrested earlier this year for using a miniature black screen that could be activated via remote control as a way to block his plate number when he passed through automated toll booths.
The new bill will come up before the California State Senate Transportation and Housing Committee on Tuesday, May 9—the first stop in the legislative process.
The California Police Chiefs Association has already filed its opposition to the bill. In a letter to Sen. Joel Anderson, the group argued that the bill would only benefit one group: "those who are trying to evade law enforcement and detection." Similarly, the bill has faced resistance from the California Public Parking Association, among other groups.
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