Police Vs. Privacy?
In June, The Liberty Block reported that the Lincoln Police became the first department in New Hampshire to utilize automatic license plate readers on their vehicles after the legislature repealed the state ban (largely due to pressure from NH police chiefs) on their use in 2016. Since then, at least one more - the Sunapee Police Department has begun to utilize this Orwellian device in the name of public safety. We have heard reports that many other police departments in NH are planning to buy license plate readers for their vehicles over the next few years.
As reported by NHPR.org, license plate scanners in Vermont scanned 7.9 million license plates (over 12 times the entire population of Vermont) in the 18 months preceding 2013. This was accomplished using only 61 police-car-mounted LPRs in the entire state. According to the VPR study, the recordings have remained in a central law enforcement database along with the time and location. Simply put, this means that nearly everyone in Vermont is being tracked by law enforcement, and their whereabouts and daily routines are now known to their government and police.
Despite its supposed use - to keep communities safe - the new technology has not led to any increase in arrests or tickets for the crimes that it is capable of detecting since they were first utilized in 2009, according to VPR. If they aren’t even helping police, why would they expect us to sacrifice our privacy?
When asked about the LPR use by police in Vermont by VPR, Allen Gilbert, ACLU Director of Vermont said “A citizen’s right to privacy is violated whenever a government records movements of individuals who are not subjects of an investigation.” and “After a while, a whole series of bits of information about us can paint a pretty detailed picture of where we’ve been.”
Under Vermont law, the recordings are only to be kept in the database for 18 months. Under the new NH program, recordings must be erased within 3 minutes. Do we have any reason to trust politicians and police though?
The politicians and police who wish to steal our privacy and convert it into power for themselves claim that LPRs are only a minimal infringement on our privacy and that they will only be used against dangerous criminals. Mark my words: Within a decade, every single time your car moves, the government and law enforcement will know exactly where you’re going. In 1913, the US government created the federal income tax. They were successful in passing a new tax because the brackets were only 1% to 7% at the time. Today, those brackets are 10% to 37%.
In 1950, only one in twenty workers in the US needed the government’s permission (occupational license) to work. Now, nearly one in three people need the government’s permission to work.
Government programs that take liberty from citizens only grow. They never shrink and they never even seem to remain stagnant.
Privacy and freedom in New Hampshire are dying. Actually, they’re being threatened by politicians. The Liberty Block plans to help reinstate the ban on automatic license plate scanners in the 2019 legislative session, but we need your help! Email and call your state representatives and senators as much as you need to until they agree to reinstate the ban on this horrific technology being utilized against innocent people by police. For the time being, we strongly recommend buying some sort of privacy screen for your license plate. Let’s not make it easier than we need to for these corrupt tyrants to track our every move!
The views expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the views held by The Liberty Block or any of its contributors or members.