NYPD Prepares To Use Drones As CA License Plate Readers Stir Controversy

Tyler Durden's picture

Submitted by Mike Krieger of Liberty Bitzkrieg blog,

One of the many civil liberties related themes I have focused on over the past several years has to do with how emerging technologies can pose a threat, first to our basic 4th Amendment rights, and then ultimately to freedom itself. Two of the most high profile technologies in this regard, and which have extremely high potential for abuse, are license plate readers and drones.

I’m no luddite saying that these technologies should be banned. In fact, I can certainly see reasonable uses for both within a broad range of society. However, I am saying that unless we have an engaged citizenry holding public officials’ feet to the fire, these technologies will certainly be abused and before you know it you’ll find yourself in Room 101 staring down at a ravenous rat army wishing you had said something earlier.

The biggest challenge we face is that the general public has become so dumbed down, distracted and confused when it comes to the most existential issues we face as a society. Rather than focusing on key issues that really matter, the mainstream media largely blows up and obsesses over immaterial, yet emotionally charged events that don’t mean anything in the larger scheme of things.

License plate readers and drones are two great examples of this dilemma. Both have been advancing into our lives in an increasing manner and most people don’t have the slightest clue. How can people have informed opinions on such keys issues when they have no idea what is happening around them.

Let’s start with the license plate scanners. Before reading further, I suggest going back and checking out my post from earlier this year: How the Repo Industry is Collecting Data on Virtually Every Car in America.

Now that you are sufficiently disturbed about the extent to which your privacy is being violated day in and day out, let’s focus on some good news. The fact that there is now a bill in the California state legislature that will attempt to put some boundaries around this technology.

We learn from CBS News that:

If you’ve been behind the wheel lately, odds are your trip has been tracked by small cameras called “automated license plate readers.”


They’re often mounted on law enforcement vehicles and street poles, and used by police to catch criminals. But in California, lawmakers are debating whether this technology needs restrictions to protect privacy.


The high-tech cameras zero in on the license plates of every car that passes, taking upwards of 2,000 images per minute.


The photos are instantly sent to national databases that log each vehicle’s exact location, along with the date and time it was there.


More than 70 percent of the nation’s police departments use this technology to find vehicles associated with crimes.


“They can track you around the country through these databases,” said California State Senator Jerry Hill.


Hill wants to regulate the technology. He’s pushing a new state law (S.B. 893) that would keep license plate cameras off private property, and ban public agencies from sharing their camera data.


“What we’re trying to do with the legislation is create some safeguards so the public’s rights and privacy are secure,” Hill said.


The California Senate will vote on the new law next week.


In the meantime, license plate cameras and the data they collect remain unrestricted.

There’s a fine line between fighting crime and living in a creepy total surveillance state. We need to define that line and do it now.

Now, onto the drone issue. This is another important subject for debate that just hasn’t been getting enough of it. For some context, read:

The FBI Has Been Using Drones Domestically Since 2006

Meet the MQ-4C Triton – A New Navy Drone with the Wingspan of a Boeing 757

The NYPD appears to be seriously looking into deploying drones in the city of my birth. We learn from The New York Daily News that:

Big brother may be watching and listening more closely than ever — as the NYPD considers using drones and other gizmos to fight crime in the city.


Police Commissioner Bill Bratton said the unmanned machines equipped with cameras and tiny microphones could help spy on crime hotspots — like housing projects, where shootings are up about 32% this year.

Guess they forgot to buy their S&P500 calls…

“Myself, I’m supportive of the concept of drones, not only for police but for public safety in general,” Bratton said Tuesday. “It’s something that we actively keep looking at and stay aware of.”


John Miller, the NYPD’s head of intelligence, said cops have been studying flying drones. They’re looking at “what’s on the market, what’s available.”


“You could see an application where a drone could be not only a very effective crime fighting tool but could actually show you where the bad guys are going leaving the scene,” he said.


Bratton sat on the board of ShotSpotter, a company that makes the detectors, before returning to his post as the city’s top cop in January. He said the bidding process hasn’t begun.


Seem as if “what’s available” may just happen to be produced by a company the police chief sat on the board of. How convenient. Sort of like how former head of the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), Michael Chertoff, has a private security company called the Chertoff Group, which stands to make lots of money from fear mongering the public about terrorism. As the Huffington Post reported in 2010:

Chertoff’s clients have prospered in the last two years, largely through lucrative government contracts, and The Chertoff Group’s assistance in navigating the complex federal procurement bureaucracy is in high demand. One example involves the company at the heart of the recent uproar over intrusive airport security procedures – Rapiscan, which makes the so-called body scanners. Back in 2005, Chertoff was promoting the technology and Homeland Security placed the government’s first order, buying five Rapiscan scanners.

As I have said before, the primary driver of U.S. GDP these days is fraud, corruption and theft. It’s up to us to change that.

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Millivanilli's picture

Funny how all these nifty devices to kill terrst (that we now support and fund. Actually Ronny raygun had the taliban in the wh as freedom fighters. But I digress...)   End up BEING USED TO CONTROL US AT HOME.



nmewn's picture

I think the problem is, we keep asking them to do shit on our behalf.

Maybe we should re-think that ;-)

CH1's picture

I think the problem is...

That everyone keeps obeying them, no matter what.

Real Estate Geek's picture

Ahh, a fellow trap/skeet/clays shooter, I surmise.

nmewn's picture

Naw, just a shooter...turkeys fear m...my son actually...lol.

JLee2027's picture

License plate readers are illegal under the Constitution. It is a technology that should be used only with a warrant.

cougar_w's picture

Inaccuracy. But think whatever you want they like it when you are headed the wrong direction.

ljag's picture

Don't forget to zap that renewal sticker for 2 seconds to make sure it sticks to that old plate of yours

migra's picture

I know quite a bit about LPRs and a lot of it us not good. But, sadly,  they are not illegal.  Plate readers read license plates,  which are state property,  on public roads. Your license plate has no reasonable expectation of privacy on public roads.

fallout11's picture

Dirt/mud on your license plate is not a crime. Just saying....

MeelionDollerBogus's picture

Where I live it is. Anything from dirt, mud, snow, anything covering the plate is a crime & you are responsible to keep it clear.
Refusal to do so will lead to a ticket no differently than if one of your signal lights was broken.

MeelionDollerBogus's picture

Well ho-lee-sheet. Now you've pointed it out I'm sure they'll snap right to obeying that thar constertooshun.

knukles's picture

Most people I know step by step, little by little, hem and haw about freedom, protecting us from terrorists and conclude that each little bit of new technology is OK, they guess, has some applicability and the very same folks will be fucking clueless when they're on the wrong fucking side of the femah camp barbed wire fences.
And I'll, probably have to listen to them bitch, piss and moan about that, too.

NidStyles's picture

Well one thing is certain, when we have all been round up and shot, they will have no one to tell them "I told you so".

cougar_w's picture

It will never be as obvious as that.

Pick a different trigger for your outrage.

NidStyles's picture

You should quit assuming I am outraged or even serious ;-)

cougar_w's picture

Around here you can never tell.

Debt-Penitent's picture


"When you have been rounded up..."

I, will not go so peacefully.

Omegaman2211's picture

When is this shit all coming to an end?

Skateboarder's picture

Never. Once it has started, there is no going back.

Omegaman2211's picture

I was referring more to total societal collapse.

caustixoid's picture

Roman empire took centuries to collapse, and then kept springing back up...

Big Corked Boots's picture

"If you want a vision if the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face - forever." (Orwell, of course.)

cougar_w's picture

I'm a network engineer, and not even a very talented one. Nearly anyone with my level of skill (and there are millions of us) could bring down their surveillance system in 15 seconds.

So never is hardly the correct answer. It will continue for as long as people who can kill it remain distracted by other things, and then not 15 seconds longer than that.

g speed's picture

I always figured you guys were out there-- knowing for sure I'll sleep well tonight.

NidStyles's picture

I always hear people tell me how they can stand up to the US military as well. I know better than to think it will happen even close to how people presume. They have the same knowledge you do and more. If you started from that awareness and stopped thinking it will be that easy for you, things would make more sense for you.


To iterate, when I was in the Army almost 6 years ago now we were capable of landing a 155mm round within 1 meter of you at 20 miles. We could also see through your walls at about 15 miles. Goodluck with your head on confrontation.


cougar_w's picture

Networking is not the same thing. The Chinese have been ass-raping the US MilNet for years, everyone knows it. Taking a network flat down is even easier than getting into it undectected. Besides, the drone thing is not going to be mil-grade kit. Probably off-the-self bullshit with known exploits. They'll outsource the whole thing and the kids will have the communication protocols hacked by the next day.

I'm not afraid of these fucks. They can play around all they want but once they cross some line someone is going to bring it down and you'll never even hear about it. It will just be gone.


Bill of Rights's picture

And could you leap small buildings in a single bound? As someone with many skills regarding the workings of network connectivity I am the knowledge and I am the more.

MrPalladium's picture

"we were capable of landing a 155mm round within 1 meter of you at 20 miles. We could also see through your walls at about 15 miles"

Yes but your paychecks were not three months late and your family back home was not starving due to a zimbabwe style inflation.

Patience may man, patience!

Took Red Pill's picture

Yes, the key will be to get the military and police to wake up and be on our side.

fallout11's picture

Yes, but when in history did this ever happen?

MeelionDollerBogus's picture

Military: when their children were in danger
police: never. They ARE the danger. They enjoy the terrorism of killing your children more than life itself.

MeelionDollerBogus's picture

#1 change what the walls are made of and then you can't.
#2 obviously resistance in Afghanistan & Iraq shows resistance can work, as it has with covert forces in various South American countries. It doesn't always work but you don't always win.

MeelionDollerBogus's picture

REALLY? So you could take down the system and NOT get shot for it, before they put another system back up and at GUN POINT for the next set of network engineers?
You don't get 2 chances at this.
The trick is not to "break" the current system. The trick is to ensure once it's down it stays down.

knukles's picture

When the very last of us is dead.


First they came for the Socialists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Socialist.

Then they came for the Trade Unionists, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Trade Unionist.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out—
Because I was not a Jew.

Then they came for me—
and there was no one left to speak for me. 
         -Martin Miemölle

GoinFawr's picture

Knuks, in your case wouldn't it be more like:


First they came for the lefties, and I did not speak out,

Because lefty don't golf.

Then they came for the employed lefties, and I did not speak out.

Because they lower the tone at the clubhouse.

Then they came for the Jews, and I did not speak out.

Because once a Jew shot 2 under, and I was 3 over

Then they came for me,

While I was enjoying a pleasant 18 holes by myself

-Snark Alexy

CH1's picture

When is this shit all coming to an end?

When people stop obeying them.

And not until.

Chupacabra-322's picture

@ Omegaman2211,

It's over when we hang the Criminal Bastards upside down, slice their throats from ear to ear, watch them drown in their own blood while simultaneously setting them on fire.

kliguy38's picture

relax it will only hurt a little

PT's picture

Remove the license plates from your car.

Better still, remove license plates from everyone elses cars.

Find out the license plate number of your Congressman, Corzine, Dimon, etc etc etc.  Put that number on your car.


knukles's picture

National Obammie License Plate Day