Auto Tags Are Now Identifiers?

The other day my significant other came home and told me that his tire blew out on the road the other day.  It wasn’t a huge disaster, it just surprised him and he had to pull over to the side of the road.  We have AAA and so he called them and waited till they sent someone out to replace the tire.

What was interesting about the situation was while waiting on the side of the highway, my husband told me that a state police cruiser pulled up behind him, the officer got out of the car and approached his vehicle. My husband rolled down the window and the officer asked him if he was Mr. _______.

What?  How’d he know that straight away?  He must have had something that tells him who is the owner of each car which is accessible instantly.

None of this surprises me, nor should it surprise any of you, but I did notice today that someone out in California tried to get this information erased because his impression was that unless he was a criminal, the police didn’t need to create a data log on him as a driver.  There was no reason to know that his car was shopping in certain stores, or going across state lines, etc.

A judge denied his claim.

Here is some more information on that case:

In a decision on Thursday, a California judge upheld that local law enforcement agencies can keep secret records from a vast network of license plate scanners in the greater Los Angeles area.

Accumulated through a system of cameras mounted on stop lights and police cruisers, the movements of millions of vehicles in the U.S. are tracked and the information stored for law enforcement purposes. The rapidly expanding system, funded primarily by Homeland Security grants, is now in use by seven in 10 local agencies, according to a study by the Police Executive Research Forum.

Michael Robertson, a tech entrepreneur known for founding the website MP3.com, filed a personal lawsuit to acquire his own records stored in the secret database. A San Diego judge has ruled that local agencies can deny his request under California’s open records law, however, because the information pertains to police investigations.

“If I’m not being investigated for a crime, there shouldn’t be a secret police file on me” that details “where I go, where I shop, where I visit,” Robertson told the Associated Press. “That’s crazy, Nazi police-type stuff.”

Now I don’t think police officers having access to driver information is “Nazi police-type stuff” but it  was intriguing to us because it seemed when the officer drove over and got out of his car, well, it happened in a flash.  The officer was driving by at regular speed, and stopped on a busy highway and within a minute was out of the car and asking to confirm the identity of my husband.  Which can only mean that as the officer drove past and saw that a car was disabled, he was able to check the plates and identify the owner within seconds.

I just think it’s amazing.  What do you think?



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