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  1. #1
    Senior Member JohnDoe2's Avatar
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    Homeland Security wants to build national database using license-plate scanners

    Homeland Security wants to build national database using license-plate scanners




    The Department of Homeland Security plans to build a national database that would gather information from license-plate readers that scan every vehicle crossing their paths, according to a solicitation last week from the agency.


    U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement would use the technology to help locate and arrest “absconders and criminal aliens,” reducing surveillance hours and enhancing officer safety,
    according to the request.


    DHS spokeswoman Gillian Christensen told Ars Technica that the database “could only be accessed in conjunction with ongoing criminal investigations.”


    License-plate readers, which automatically record information on all vehicles that cross their paths instead of just suspect vehicles, are controversial among privacy advocates. The American Civil Liberties Union issued a report last year criticizing the increased use of such devices, saying they collect vast amounts of data on innocent individuals and could be used for abusive tracking and targeting.



    A reflection of the Department of Homeland Security logo in the eyeglasses of an agency analyst. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

    “More and more cameras, longer retention periods, and widespread sharing allow law enforcement agents to assemble the individual puzzle pieces of where we have been over time into a single, high-resolution image of our lives,” the ACLU said.

    The group has argued that constant monitoring can “chill the exercise of our cherished rights to free speech and association.”


    Despite concerns about automatic license-plate readers, the use of such devices has grown in recent years, in large part due to millions of dollars in grants from Homeland Security and the Justice Department to state and local law-enforcement agencies.


    A 2011 survey
    of 70 police agencies by the Police Executive Research Forum found that nearly three-quarters of the departments were using license-plate readers and 85 percent planned to increase their use of the devices.


    The Homeland Security plan comes amid increased concerns about the government’s sweeping domestic surveillance programs, which came under heightened scrutiny following leaks last year from former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden.


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    http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/...late-scanners/

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  2. #2
    Administrator Jean's Avatar
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    Government Wants To Catch Undocumented Immigrants With License Plate Technology

    Published February 18, 2014
    Fox News Latino


    (Photo by John Moore/Getty Images)

    A push for a new tool to aid federal immigration agents in their hunt for fugitive undocumented immigrants and criminals has some privacy rights observers nervous that the agency is becoming a little too big brother for its liking.

    The federal agency tasked with arresting and deporting undocumented immigrants, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, put out an official request last week for contractors to submit bids for commercial technology that would help the agency its law enforcement officers tap into the National License Plate Recognition Database, or NLPR.

    “The database should track vehicle license plate numbers that pass through cameras or are voluntarily entered into the system from a variety of sources (access control systems, asset recovery specialists, etc.) and uploaded to share with law enforcement," the request for proposals stated."NLPR information will be used by DHS/ICE to assist in the location and arrest of absconders and criminal aliens.”

    The technology that ICE wants developed for the agency would allow agents to use smart phones to quickly snap a photo of a license plate and quickly determine the plate is on a "hot list" of "target vehicles."

    License plate readers, however, would automatically record information on all vehicles that cross their paths instead of just suspect vehicles.

    "This system is supposed to be for the Immigrations and Customs Enforcement branch of DHS, for the tracking of illegal immigrants," said J.J. Green, a national security correspondent in Washington D.C. for WTOP radio.

    The agency noted that the system would help in locating criminal undocumented immigrants on the lam "and will enhance officer safety by enabling arrests to occur away from a subject's residence."

    While the specifics of how the smart phone application would works depend on who wins the contract, ICE said it wants a system that works with iPhone, Android or BlackBerry devices.

    Despite ICE guarantees that the "the database could only be accessed in conjunction with ongoing criminal investigations,” there are concerns that the system will breach privacy laws and could lead to discriminatory tracking.

    While this type of system is used extensively throughout the United Kingdom and in some law enforcement agencies throughout the U.S., groups like the American Civil Liberties Union still see it as going down a dangerous road toward breaching privacy rights.

    "The knowledge that one is subject to constant monitoring can chill the exercise of our cherished rights to free speech and association," a 2013 report by the ACLU stated. "If not properly secured, license plate reader databases open the door to abusive tracking, enabling anyone with access to pry into the lives of his boss, his ex- wife, or his romantic, political, or workplace rivals."

    Experts added that in light of the recent National Security Agency spying revelations, the public has become extremely wary when it comes to any type of government monitoring of civilians.

    "There are some significant concerns," Green said, "and probably rightly so, in light of the Edward Snowden revelations, that it could be used for something other than what it's intended for."

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  3. #3
    Senior Member JohnDoe2's Avatar
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    DHS Cancels Plan For License-Plate Tracking System


    Amid rising privacy concerns, senior Homeland Security leaders say they didn't know about proposal to develop new database system.

    In a sudden reversal, the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency cancelled plans announced earlier this week to develop a national license-plate tracking system.


    ICE, a division of the Department of Homeland Security, had posted a notice saying it was seeking proposals from companies to develop a database and notification system that would aggregate license-plate information gathered from various commercial and law enforcement tag-reading systems.


    But top officials at the immigration enforcement agency and DHS were caught off guard by the solicitation, which sparked a flurry of public concerns by privacy advocates. DHS secretary Jeh Johnson ordered the proposal be cancelled, according to an Associated Press report.


    "The solicitation, which was posted without the awareness of ICE leadership, has been cancelled," confirmed ICE spokeswoman Gillian Christensen, in a statement. "While we continue to support a range of technologies to help meet our law enforcement mission, this solicitation will be reviewed to ensure the path forward appropriately meets our operational needs."


    [Tech companies are also voicing the need for restraint on government surveillance. SeeSurveillance Protests Go Global.]


    The contract notice fueled growing public concerns about the government's surveillance of US citizens. While ICE officials said the proposed database would only be used in conjunction with ongoing criminal investigations or to locate wanted individuals, privacy advocates complained the database system would allow the government to track the daily movement of virtually every citizen who drives a car.


    Photo courtesy of Wikimedia
    The sudden turnabout on the contract solicitation also raised concerns about management at ICE.

    The public posting of the contract solicitation without the knowledge of ICE leadership "highlights a serious management problem within this DHS component," said Rep. Bennie G. Thompson (Miss.) in a statement in theWashington Post.

    Thompson, the ranking Democrat on the House Homeland Security Committee, noted that ICE currently does not have a director nominated by the president. He urged ICE leaders to work more closely with DHS privacy and civil liberty officers.


    The National License Plate Recognition (NLPR) database service that ICE had proposed would have given immigration enforcement officers enhanced access to the license-tag information already available to law enforcement agencies, according to an ICE solicitation document that had been available on FederalBizOps.gov, but has since been removed.


    The system would have allowed agents to upload license-plate information on any vehicle, via smartphone, and check it against a list of suspected fugitives.


    Even with the cancellation of the agency's license-plate tracking system, citizens won't be able to escape the electronic eyes of tag-reading systems now commonly used on the nation's toll roads, in parking garages, and many other commercial locations. State and local law enforcement agencies have been pooling information from those systems for nearly a decade and continue to gather more information as the cost of surveillance equipment grows cheaper and data analytics systems become easier for agents to use directly.


    The NSA leak showed that one rogue insider can do massive damage. Use these three steps to keep your information safe from internal threats. Also in theStop Data Leaks issue of Dark Reading: Technology is critical, but corporate culture also plays a central role in stopping a big breach. (Free registration required.)

    Wyatt Kash is Editor of InformationWeek Government. He has been covering government IT and technology trends since 2004.

    He served as Editor-in-Chief of Government Computer News and Defense Systems (owned by The Washington Post Co. and subsequently 1105 Media)


    http://www.informationweek.com/gover...d/d-id/1113921
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