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License readers are Orwellian

Editorial cartoon by Jacob Bogdanoff

Editorial cartoon by Jacob Bogdanoff

The Los Angeles Police Department and the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department have installed and are currently using Automatic License Plate Readers, or cameras mounted to poles and patrol cars, which have the ability to record every passing vehicle’s license plate, along with the time, date and location they passed by.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation and the American Civil Liberties Union have filed a lawsuit against both departments arguing that they are improperly withholding records and are keeping important information about the invasive technology away from the public.

While this new technology may be a great way for the police to track criminals, it also raises privacy concerns.

Without any restrictions on its use, ALPR technology can potentially bring harm to people’s privacy and civil liberties. With these new cameras, the police are able to collect a large amount of data on an individual without their knowledge and without raising any level of suspicion.

Why must we all be forced to feel like we are constantly being watched? This is something that would fit into Huxley’s “Brave New World.”

Didn’t we all learn the dangers of giving the state control over new and powerful technologies?

With all the furor that George Orwell’s “1984” raised when it was published in 1949, it would seem that we as a society have become complacent. Today in 2014 “big brother” has gotten bigger than anything Orwell could have imagined.

Without public access to information on how the ALPR technology is being used, those people who are being recorded would not know if their rights were being infringed upon.

This would leave them helpless if they were to even try to challenge the policies that are supposed to be protecting their rights.

The Los Angeles Police and Sheriff’s Departments must release information on their ALPR technology. If not, there is a lot of potential for misuse. While the police does protect us, I guess the question I would like to ask is who polices the police?

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