ICE has struck a deal to track license plates across the US

The system gives the agency access to billions of license plate records and new powers of real-time location tracking.

Vigilant Solutions has amassed a database of more than 2 billion license plate photos by ingesting data from partners like vehicle repossession agencies and other private groups. Vigilant also partners with local law enforcement agencies, often collecting even more data from camera-equipped police cars. The result is a massive vehicle-tracking network generating as many as 100 million sightings per month, each tagged with a date, time, and GPS coordinates of the sighting.

ICE agents would be able to query that database in two ways. A historical search would turn up every place a given license plate has been spotted in the last five years, a detailed record of the target's movements. That data could be used to find a given subject's residence or even identify associates if a given car is regularly spotted in a specific parking lot. [...]

ICE agents can also receive instantaneous email alerts whenever a new record of a particular plate is found [...] With sightings flooding in from police dashcams and stationary readers on bridges and toll booths, it would be hard for anyone on the list to stay unnoticed for long. [...]

The biggest concern for critics is the sheer scale of Vigilant's network, assembled almost entirely outside of public accountability. "If ICE were to propose a system that would do what Vigilant does, there would be a huge privacy uproar and I don't think Congress would approve it," Stanley says. "But because it's a private contract, they can sidestep that process."

SF Public Defender Vows to Defend San Franciscans Detained in Planned ICE Raids:

Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) is reportedly planning massive sweeps in Northern California in response to Gov. Jerry Brown's signing of the California Values Act, a law that prohibits the use of local and state tax dollars to assist in federal civil immigration enforcement. [...]

"ICE's threats are outrageous and designed to terrorize immigrant community members. But we will not be afraid. Our highly trained staff stands ready to defend the rights of all San Franciscans regardless of immigration status," said Adachi.

There is no evidence to support claims made by ICE officials that sanctuary policies compromise public safety, and a host of studies, including one from the Journal of Law and Economics, that found no correlation between public safety and increased deportation. There is little dispute that immigrants commit fewer crimes than citizens. And, the Center of American Progress found that sanctuary jurisdictions are actually safer than those without sanctuary policies.

ICE regularly engages in enforcement action without any judicial oversight. Under the Bush Administration, ICE agents routinely raided homes without warrants, where they arrested people on sight, often breaking up families in the middle of the night. ICE often acts in secret, and provides very little information to the public about their operations.

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Stay Klassy, Bezos.

Jeff Bezos is The Richest Man in the World, But 10% of Amazon's Ohio Employees Are on Food Stamps:

In 2017, Amazon founder and CEO Jeff Bezos became the richest person in the world with a net worth of over $100 billion. But a new report from the non-profit Policy Matters Ohio shows that Bezos-owned company had 1,430 Ohio-based employees or family members on food stamps as of August last year. [...] One in every 10 of those locals were beneficiaries of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). The report revealed that Amazon warehouses also receive significant state and local subsidies.

"The state and local tax incentives Amazon receives doesn't include the tens of thousands of dollars its Ohio workers need each month in food benefits," Zach Schiller, a research director at Policy Matters Ohio, said in a release on January 5. "When you consider that, the subsidies are even larger," Schiller said.

Coincidentally, The Amazon Go Store Doesn't Accept Food Stamps:

That's a letdown you wouldn't have seen mentioned in the giddy coverage of the opening, which has explained how the new store works, how Amazon has spent five years perfecting the technology, and how the company did extensive research on how people really hate standing in lines.

Billionaires Earned Enough Money in 2017 to End Extreme Poverty Seven Times Over:

Last year, the world's billionaires made over $462 billion combined -- enough money to end extreme poverty around the globe seven times over. With a new billionaire added to the list nearly every two days, wealth inequality widened, according to a new report from Oxfam.

Forty-two of the richest people in the world now hold as much wealth as 3.7 billion of the poorest people in the world, according to the report, released Monday by the international charitable organization. [...]

According to the Oxfam report, the three wealthiest Americans claim as much wealth as the 160 million poorest people living in the United States. Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos made over $35 billion in 2017 to become the richest man in the world.

Jeff Bezos Just Tossed A Nail-Studded Baseball Bat On The Floor Between The Mayors Of Pittsburgh And Kansas City And Asked Who Really Wants The Second Amazon HQ:

Industry experts say the civic leaders initially laughed off Bezos' suggestion, but are now taking it seriously after the executive poured himself a glass of fine bourbon, took one long sip, and simply said, "Thousands of highly skilled jobs that will need filling."

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Lyft: Still trying to catch up to Uber in their utter contempt for their customers and the rule of law.

Former employees say Lyft staffers spied on passengers:

Similar to Uber's "God View" scandal, Lyft staffers have been abusing customer insight software to view the personal contact info and ride history of the startup's passengers. One source that formerly worked with Lyft tells TechCrunch that widespread access to the company's backend let staffers "see pretty much everything including feedback, and yes, pick up and drop off coordinates."

When asked if staffers, ranging from core team members to customer service reps, abused this privilege, the source said "Hell yes. I definitely looked at my friends' rider history and looked at what drivers said about them. I never got in trouble." [...]

They claimed that staffers could use Lyft's backend software to view unmasked personally identifiable information. This was said to be used to look up ex-lovers, check where their significant others were riding and to stalk people they found attractive who shared a Lyft Line with them. Staffers also could see who had bad ratings from drivers, or even look up the phone numbers of celebrities. One staffer apparently bragged about obtaining Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg's phone number.

Don't fool yourself that Lyft is any better than Uber: While Uber is a 12-alarm fratboy dumpster fire of a company, Lyft is still at least a 3-alarm dumpster fire. They don't get as much bad press because they have a smaller market share, and so they make less good click-bait.

Both companies are morally bankrupt. Both companies' business models are best described as "insurance fraud".

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The elite belief in Uberized, Muskized cities is at odds with fundamental, irrefutable facts of geometry

Jarrett Walker:

Walker's overarching thesis is that city transit is undermined by "elite projection," where rich people pretend that the way they like getting around -- in private vehicles that go from door to door -- can possibly work at urban scale, despite the fact that simple geometry shows that this is a physical impossibility.

As in, "It doesn't matter how tightly you pack self-driving Ubers together on our roads. If all the people who make your coffee and empty your wastebin are in private vehicles rather than on buses and trains, the roads will be at 5 or 10 times their physical capacity." [...] These all share the geometric flaw: even the smallest cars, packed as tightly as possible, multiplied by all the people who rely on buses and trains, will overflow all the roads we have now and all the roads we could ever build.

There is another flaw: when you make it cheaper to ride private vehicles (rather than public transit), you siphon transit riders out of the buses and trains, and put them on the roads, increasing congestion: so adding "efficient rideshares" actually makes transit worse, not better

Walker tried to explain this to Elon Musk on Twitter [...] Musk called him an idiot.

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