The Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency has officially gained agency-wide access to a nationwide license plate recognition database [theverge.com], according to a contract finalized earlier this month. The system gives the agency access to billions of license plate records and new powers of real-time location tracking [cnbc.com], raising significant concerns from civil libertarians.
For civil liberties groups, the implications go far beyond immigration. "There are people circulating in our society who are undocumented," says senior policy analyst Jay Stanley, who studies license plate readers with the ACLU. "Are we as a society, out of our desire to find those people, willing to let our government create an infrastructure that will track all of us?"
Meanwhile, countermeasures [investmentwatchblog.com] are already deployed, and obfuscated:
Known as “Bienvenidos,” the Spanish word for “Welcome,” the app purports to help navigate the treacherous U.S.-Mexico border by alerting users to a range of obstacles and threats.
The anonymous creators of Bienvenidos attempted to pitch their app this month to numerous media outlets before suddenly reversing their announcement. A YouTube video explaining the technology was inexplicably deleted while the Bienvenidos website became password-protected.