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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7 Responses:

  1. MattyJ says:

    Yet another reason to take the bus.

    • Peter says:

      Or use a bicycle, which is often faster than public transport for journeys less than 10km or so because it's door-to-door rather than stop-to-stop plus a walk and waiting for the damn thing to deign to turn up. If it's slower because one is a lard-arse, getting on a bike will soon fix that.

      Curiously, I've seen some bikes in the Netherlands that have number plates on them. They're neither vanity plates nor do they seem to follow the local vehicle number plate convention, so I don't understand their purpose. I have no idea why anybody would actually choose to display a number plate where there's no legal requirement to. Heck, most Dutch cyclists seem to flout all of the road laws anyway (with the motorists not faring much better).

      • jer says:

        Curiously, those are called "speed pedelecs" - electrically assisted bicycles with a maximum allowed speed of 45km/h.

        Since they are allowed to go just as fast as mopeds, other requirements apply just as well. Since July 2017, riders are required to wear a helmet, to obtain and carry a driver's license, are restricted in where they can ride them, require liability insurance, and are required to register the vehicle and install a license plate acquired via that registration.

      • pavel_lishin says:

        Some parts of the US are more amenable to bike transit than others. Large parts of Dallas, for instance, have virtually no bicycling infrastructure. There are some places that are only connected by freeways. Your best case scenario is that the drivers - who have literally never seen a bicyclist on that road, and some of whom may have never seen one on any road - only run you off the road, instead of killing you.

    • Happen Muche says:

      Is public transport, at least as currently implemented in your municipal area, suited to guys working construction labour?

      If you don't have any idea because you've never seen guys in workboots on your bus at 5 am, the answer is no.

  2. pavel_lishin says:

    I wonder about the legality of flooding these with false data by setting up displays by the side of the road that show randomly generated license plates.

    I'm reasonably sure you can't just put up fake plates on your car, anywhere, but what about small billboards that happen to be parked by the roadside?

    • Ronald Pottol says:

      Probably, after all, what you need is for their scanner to see a plate, not a human, so if you can figure out how their scanner works, it should be quite doable (but, I doubt they will lend you one for research).

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