You’ve seen those signs at the side of the road telling you how fast you’re going. Well, they’re seeing you too.
Still, it’s not the data collection itself that’s the issue, as much as what authorities do next with that information, explained Maass.
“The technology is fairly simple, but as they start collecting more and more data and applying more and more algorithms to that, you can get information about people’s travel patterns, where their doctor’s office is, where they sleep at night, or put in the address of a place and see who visited it: an immigrant health clinic, a medical marijuana facility, or even a [marijuana] grow [operation] that would be completely legal under state law but illegal under federal law,” Maass said. “You could [link someone to] an abortion clinic, any number of sensitive locations.”
Precise details of the DEA’s license plate reader program are extremely difficult to pry loose. The DEA declined to comment on either the program in general or its latest purchase of license plate readers; Sherman Green, the Department of Justice contracting officer handling the RU2 deal did not respond to an interview request.
I’ve seen more of these signs popping up around Houston, and now I wonder how many of them are actually surveillance devices – and how comfortable people would be if they knew that, given the brouhaha here a few years ago about red light cameras.