If you’re like me, then you were pretty disturbed about the revelations last month that the NSA was recording literally every digital and phone transaction you made since 2006. Soon after the NSA story broke, we were informed that the FBI had several drones at their disposal and had been using them at their own leisure over American soil. Then we learned that the Post Office had been doing the same thing for years as well. It seems like many of us may have been living in some kind of fantasy world if we thought we had any privacy whatsoever, but actually we’re never alone (even when we want to be).
A new revelation about the power of local police scanning technology means that we really should never have any expectation of privacy.
If you’ve driven anywhere recently, it’s very likely that your local or state police have pictures and a record of your travels on file somewhere, even if you’ve done nothing wrong. A study recently published by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has found that using automated law enforcement agencies around the nation have compiled a huge record of the location and movement of every vehicle with a license plate. These scanners can be found on police cars, bridges, buildings, at intersections and multiple other places.
As the technology becomes cheaper and easier to get and use, you can be sure that the scanners will become far more prevalent in our daily lives. Technically, it is illegal for the police to track a person or vehicle with GPS without a court order; however, these scanners maneuver around that restriction because they aren’t necessarily tracking a specific person with GPS. Most states have not developed any laws or guidelines to restrict the use of the scanning technology, and only New Hampshire outlaws it except for the strictest of circumstances. In parts of New York, the information can be kept indefinitely.
The law enforcement argument is that a citizen cannot have an expectation of privacy while moving about in their vehicle. Also, while the numbers of cases that the technology has actually proven useful on is small, they have helped to protect the local communities.
Whatever side of the surveillance state debate you fall on, the power of the local, state, and federal government to observe us (if they so desire) must be obvious. The NSA can track our digital and telephone usage. The FBI can track our movement on our property using drone technology. And local, state and federal agencies can track our movements off of our property. There really isn’t ever a moment that we are truly alone in today’s advanced technological age.
The views expressed in this opinion article are solely those of their author and are not necessarily either shared or endorsed by EagleRising.com