2 Replies to “License plate readers along CT roads catch attention of lawmakers”

  1. Why does it matter if license plate readers are used in Connecticut; or any state for that matter? The license plates are in plain view, and cannot legally be covered. Those worried about these devices most likely have some shade of something to hide. They claim they can use it to track everyday motorists. This is true, but why are they not fighting back against DOT cameras or simple cameras on buildings along roads? The Article is posing the technology as an unnecessary evil, when LEOs can do it already in their patrol vehicle. Why is it only these devices and not bashing the DOT? You are already tracked while driving with traffic cameras, tolls, ect. Why are these worse?

    1. The old, “if you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to worry about” argument is not a strong one. If you have nothing to hide, then officers should be permitted to search through your home at will, correct? In response to that critique, many people pivot to the next argument: the law says you have no expectation of privacy in public places, and so police departments should be permitted to do whatever surveillance is lawful. That argument fails to acknowledge that laws can and do change as technology and society changes. For instance, officers were once legally permitted to search a cell phone incident to arrest. Recognizing this had become a huge invasion of privacy, that has changed—it is now unlawful without a warrant. Same thing with GPS trackers on cars. The police can certainly follow a car around all they want—but the Supreme Court has decided that doing so digitally is much more problematic, and not functionally equivalent. The same may be said about cameras. Police officers watching you on the street and computers tracking and permanently recording your every single move are not functionally equivalent.

      One very legitimate concern is that, in some of the more questionable departments, the officers may abuse camera surveillance. They may track women traveling to/from Planned Parenthood, or BLM members traveling to/from community meetings, or any number of other examples. In other words, these cameras might be used to target political enemies. Anyone who has read 1984 knows how dangerous a proposition this is.

      We will return to issues of technology and police surveillance later in our course.

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