Jackson Michigan To Install License Plate-Reading Cameras. Are You Ok With Them?
License plate-reading (LPR) cameras are a great idea if you can trust the government. The problem today is trust in government. Not many people these days with an open mind can honestly say they trust the government. According to a Pew survey published in May of 2021:
Currently, 36% of Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents say they can trust government, compared with 9% of Republicans and Republican-leaners
The city of Jackson Michigan was approved last week to install license plate-reading cameras on the major streets coming in and out of the city. According to an article published by MLive they state those major streets are:
The 10 proposed locations in Jackson for the LPR cameras include Cooper Street at Porter Street, Elm Avenue at the northern city limits, Martin Luther King Jr. Drive at High Street, High Street at Martin Luther King Equality Trail, Lansing Avenue at Commonwealth Avenue, East Michigan Avenue at Ganson Street, West Michigan Avenue at Higby Street, Morrell Street at Brown Street, Page Avenue at Gorham Street and West Avenue at Commonwealth Avenue.
What exactly will these license plate-reading cameras be recording? A report that was submitted to the Jackson City Engineer stated:
The LPR cameras will provide assistance in locating stolen vehicles and identifying vehicles used in the commission of crimes
The LPR would be a great tool if we could trust governments, local, state and national to only use this database for “locating stolen vehicles and identifying vehicles used in the commission of crimes”.
How many cities are using these LPR cameras and how many of those are in Michigan? According to DeadlineDetroit.com there are several metro-Detroit cities that are using these cameras, those cities are Chesterfield Township, City of Warren as well as another 14 other police departments.
What does the Michigan government have to say about these cameras? Go to the Law Enforcement Information Network (LEIN) document about it.
According to one company that manufacturers these cameras, they are:
able to capture vehicles traveling up to 100 m.p.h. and up to 75 feet away—day and night…Our technology focuses solely on objective evidence" -- not on facial recognition….All data is stored in the cloud through Amazon Web Services using a standard encryption system used by both the Federal government and the National Security Agency.
The data is stored by Amazon, which certainly heightens many people's concerns.
According to Peter Swire, a law professor at the Georgia Institute of Technology said the LPR cameras could be "a privacy problem waiting to happen…Tracking license plates is another level of surveillance that raises privacy issues. ... It raises the issue whether you can look at this data without a warrant".
That is the main concern of most Americans. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) is opposed to these cameras and in a statement about them wrote:
Automatic license plate readers have the potential to create permanent records of virtually everywhere any of us has driven, radically transforming the consequences of leaving home to pursue private life, and opening up many opportunities for abuse. The tracking of people’s location constitutes a significant invasion of privacy, which can reveal many things about their lives, such as what friends, doctors, protests, political events, or churches a person may visit.
I could not say it better and for once I am agreeing with the ACLU.