The National Security Agency is not the only taxpayer-funded organization that is compiling massive databases filled with the intimate details of people’s lives. Local governments are doing their part to grow the surveillance society we live in today.
The Post-Gazette reveals that the Pittsburgh Parking Authority has been scanning unsuspecting driver’s license plates in an effort identify vehicles with too many tickets. Most months 200,000 license plates are scanned, allowing anyone with access to the database to track a vehicle’s movement in the city.
Now entering its eighth year, the authority’s License Plate Reader program has photographed several million vehicles in the city. Designed to pick out scofflaws from the countless rows of cars parked on Pittsburgh’s public streets, the cameras alert enforcement officers when they drive by a vehicle with too many tickets. On goes the dreaded boot.
But because of loose privacy policies at the Parking Authority, the system has allowed license plate records to accumulate for up to 30 days, allowing anyone with access to the database to track an individual car throughout the city based on where and when it has been scanned.
That includes you, by the way: The Parking Authority says the license plate database is a public record, opening your travels to anyone who bothers to fill out a right-to-know request.
As this story demonstrates, Fourth Amendment violations and intrusive State behavior is not confined to the Federal level. Abolishing the NSA or passing new “privacy” legislation will not solve this epidemic. The State will find another way to monitor your every move. The State’s criminal conduct will only end when the people understand the State’s confiscation of property is illegitimate. The government has no right to invade our privacy. This is because the State is an illegitimate institution, since it can only survive by stealing from the productive at the point of a gun.