Wednesday, February 3, 2016

An Unprecedented Threat to Privacy

A private company has captured 2.2 billion photos of license plates in cities throughout America. It stores them in a database, tagged with the location where they were taken. And it is selling that data.

Throughout the United States—outside private houses, apartment complexes, shopping centers, and businesses with large employee parking lots—a private corporation, Vigilant Solutions, is taking photos of cars and trucks with its vast network of unobtrusive cameras. It retains location data on each of those pictures, and sells it.

It’s happening right now in nearly every major American city.

The company has taken roughly 2.2 billion license-plate photos to date. Each month, it captures and permanently stores about 80 million additional geotagged images. They may well have photographed your license plate. As a result, your whereabouts at given moments in the past are permanently stored. Vigilant Solutions profits by selling access to this data (and tries to safeguard it against hackers). Your diminished privacy is their product. And the police are their customers.

The company counts 3,000 law-enforcement agencies among its clients. Thirty thousand police officers have access to its database. Do your local cops participate?

If you’re not sure, that’s typical.

http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2016/01/vigilant-solutions-surveillance/427047/

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