Here's the secret details of 200 cities' license-plate tracking programs

Originally published at:


The po po are data trolls, also…


So much for privacy and security of your person in Amerika. When do we get to the point where we’re expected to inform on our neighbors?


What the heck is going on in Hawthorne, California?! According to the reported data, over almost 34 million license plate scans in Hawthorne, they have a “hit rate” against a “a predetermined ‘hot list,’ a sort of watch list of vehicles that law enforcement is actively looking for” of 54%! (The average is 1.2%)

Realizing that this likely includes repeated scans of the same license plates, this is still an absurd percentage. How many people are on their “hot list”?

1 Like

Isn’t there some principle in US law that says law enforcement may not conduct investigations or gather evidence on those not accused or suspected of a crime? Something about our 4th protecting us from unreasonable searches and all that?


Not if you’re in “public view”. The police, clever hackers that they are, now hammer away at what “public” and “view” mean.


“Here ARE the secret details…”



“the law enforcement agencies we surveyed sometimes appeared not to fully understand how their systems worked and consequently provided inaccurate, incomplete, or unclear data. When the problem was obvious, we contacted the agency to obtain more precise information. However, it is possible that incorrect data provided by agencies may appear in the data set due to agency error.”

1 Like

Are! Arr!
Avast ye scurvy editors!


The life of a repo intelligence agent is always intense.

1 Like

In a way, we’re already there…


We already are if we’re Muslim.


The “If you see something say something,” and 1-800-something-TIPS programs suggest we already are.


I decided to check out the repo company cited. I guessed (incorrectly) that their site would be got an interesting redirect.

Every time we plug a hole, they open a new one. I don’t think we are going to catch up, fellas.

1 Like

I don’t like being tracked in public, and I really don’t like the idea of allowing access and mixing of these databases.

However, I will give the ONE example I have seen in person where license plate tracking was helpful: local parking meter readers use an automated scanner. Scanner alerts meter reader “car wanted in relation to possible kidnapping.” Real police get notified, they stake out the car, track the driver to a motel a few blocks away, and apprehend the driver as they leave the motel. Inside, they find the kidnapped kid (from out of state). Oddly, this never made the newspaper.

So the system worked at least once.

That’s… disturbing.

I’m sure there are ways they can be helpful, but the risks outweigh the benefits.

And i’ve not heard of other instances where the system worked - just talk about how the system ‘notes’ cars that are on ‘the list,’ and other vague things that try to sound good, but either haven’t produced results are seem (to me) as being spin.

I agree - large database tracking of citizens, especially when available to the highest bidder, is not safe.