Sunday, January 23, 2011

Living In A Fascist Surveillance State Means Never Having To Lose Your Car

unsure of her license plate number, Andrea Minnich of San Pedro uses a “Find Your Car” kiosk at Santa Monica Place. Because she’s “basically nobody,” she said, she wasn’t too concerned about privacy (actual text)

"Santa Monica Place recently unveiled the nation's first camera-based "Find Your Car" system. Shoppers who have lost track of their vehicle amid a maze of concrete ramps and angled stripes can simply punch their license plate number into a kiosk touch screen, which then displays a photo of the car and its location.
In Sacramento, the Police Department and Arden Fair Mall partnered to install license plate readers on mall security vehicles. The vehicles roam parking lots and garages in search of "hot list" vehicles provided by the state Department of Justice. If a car with a "hot" plate is spotted, mall security guards view closed-circuit TV footage to locate the vehicle's driver and alert police.
To date, the scans have helped police recover 44 stolen vehicles and arrest 38 individuals, according to mall security manager Steve Reed.
Both shopping centers are owned by the U.S. mall giant Macerich Co., which extols the surveillance systems' ability to locate lost and stolen cars. However, some wonder whether the convenience of such systems justifies their intrusive nature.
Under U.S. law, the entity taking the video owns it and can largely use or share it however it likes as long as the video is taken in public. There is, however, a difference between being allowed to share and being required to share. Police do have the power to compel the owner of the video to share it, usually through a subpoena.
"What should give people pause is that this technology is advancing upon us without anyone having chosen it," said Steven Aftergood, a senior research analyst at the Federation of American Scientists, which studies national security issues. "We have not decided as a society or as individuals that we want this convenience. It is being thrust upon us.
"The car finder is just one of many license plate imaging and facial-recognition devices that have proliferated in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, popping up in airports, border crossing stations, tollways and police cruisers."


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