Crime Fighting vs Privacy Rights
For a long time there has been a struggle going on between government/law enforcement and right to privacy advocates. The government, through law enforcement agencies, constantly seeks access to information on people. Not just criminals, all people. The idea being that if a person commits a crime the police are ahead of the game in finding that person. Privacy rights advocates cite the First and Fourth Amendments saying that we have freedom of speech, religion and the press and that we also have the right to assemble (1st Amendment) and that “the United States Constitution prohibits unreasonable searches and seizures and requires any search warrant to be judicially sanctioned and supported by probable cause.” (4th Amendment).
We’re Beginning to Sound Like China
But no matter how hard people have fought to protect our 1st and 4th amendments, we have slowly been losing ground. And those rights are being attacked from different directions. Not only is our information being captured and sold by private companies anytime we use the internet to access those companies but law enforcement is using companies that do license plate reading, to track us.
Those companies have cars that drive around all day with cameras all over the vehicle. The cameras capture a picture of the license plate and also time stamp and geo locate every vehicle license plate they find. The constitution only prohibits government agencies from doing this. The private company then sells their service to law enforcement. The law enforcement agency types in a license plate number and they get a response of every place that license plate was found by the cameras, including the day and time. Law enforcement then uses this information to find people associated with the person they are looking for either to get information or to find the wanted person at the location.
And we all know about facial recognition. That too is being used by law enforcement. Now we have aerial surveillance infringing on our rights to privacy. A federal judge just ruled to allow Baltimore to continue with implementing a program that uses city-wide aerial surveillance. I’ll let the ACLU describe what is happening. I highly recommend you watch this short video.
BREAKING: A federal court ruled the Baltimore Police Department can temporarily move forward in deploying its city-wide aerial surveillance program.
This program should never get off the ground. We plan to appeal as quickly as possible to ensure that’s the case. pic.twitter.com/5Hz5rHUGSM
— ACLU (@ACLU) April 24, 2020