Friday, January 13, 2012

Whose Panopticon Is It Anyway?

In Ontario, Canada last year there was a story of the OPP using digital cameras to scan license plates on highways. While law enforcement touts public safety, it cannot be ignored that an expired tag fine for the Jetta mentioned in the article is $110. Questions arose regarding privacy have come up in Ontario, as well as how long data is kept and for what purposes.

Now, in California, law enforcement is using the same ALPR, Automated Licence Plate Recognition, technology to scan plates for alleged criminals. In addition, a private firm, Vigilant Video, is collecting data in its National Vehicle Location Service. Contributions are made by law enforcement, as well as private citizens. Again, questions of privacy are cropping up, as it remains a question who will have access to this data and for what purposes and Vigilant isn't talking. In an era when employers are using credit histories as screening criteria, I think we need to question the use and potential misuse of such data. The EFF agrees. Given that cybersecurity is hardly secure, as shown by "anonymous", illegal access to this information is also a concern. The simplistic aphorism of "don't be evil" and you have nothing to fear has scant weight when there's no transparency with respect to what's in the database and its quality.

Twitterversion:: [video] Whose Panopticon Is It Anyway? CBS-5 story on the collection of license plate data & privacy issues in Calif. @Prof_K

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