As a part of my series on the use of automatic license plate readers in Virginia, I wanted to find out what kind of information local police might have. By law, the only information I’m privileged to is my own.
Last week I filed a public records request with the Alexandria Police Department. I’ve lived in the lovely city of Alexandria for just two years, and my driving record — aside from the occasional parking ticket — is virtually spotless.
What I found, however, left me riveted.
In all, police captured 16 photos of my car — mostly at night — and recorded my license plate eight times on five dates — from October 2013 to as recently as April 1.
Alexandria PD has 13 plate readers systems mounted in cop cars. Every time this lady passed a cop car on the road, or one drove past her house, the plate reader tagged her car's location. She notes particularly the following incidents regarding these readers:
In 2008 and 2009, the Virginia State Police, which now regularly expunges records but still collects them, captured license plate data of people at political rallies for Sarah Palin and Barack Obama.
Now consider the Nevada situation. Potentially, everybody who showed up to the Bundy Ranch in a car had their license plate photographed and tagged multiple times during the event and previously. It takes no effort at all to pull up a full itinerary of locations for a plate, given the database. Now add cellphone data. Everybody who showed up with a cellphone has left a full record of their comings and goings on cell towers. For that matter Apple and Google potentially have a full record of their locations for months in the past, possibly years.
How much use is this data to police? Laying it out for you, two guys were able to commit four or five murders while on parole and wearing GPS ankle bracelets. They were caught after SEVERAL MONTHS because some bright spark matched cell phone data from the victims to GPS tracker data from a database and found these two mooks. So really, its essentially useless for preventing crime and not amazingly useful for keeping track of criminals. These two retards were convicted sex offenders hanging out at the local prostitution circuit, and zero alarm bells were rung even though they were in major violation of parole.
How much use is this data to somebody who wants a list of people to swoop down on and arrest? Mega. They know where your habitual hangouts are, they know your movement patterns, they know where you park, they know where you live, work, eat, shop, party, they know where and when you go for a dump, potentially. So if the BLM decides they want to play rough, within the next six months or so a whole bunch of people could vanish off the streets and no one will hear about it. For a little while anyway.
Something to consider if you want to support things like the Tea Party, make sure somebody friendly knows where you are all the time. It could matter, some day soon.