The New York Police Department has been using license plate reader technology for over 5 years. They’ve recently entered into a contract with Vigilant Solutions that will give them access to Vigilant’s nationwide database. Vigilant’s system collects license plate data scanned by over 500 readers throughout New York City and combines it with surveillance footage from over 2 billion location points. The new contract means the NYPD now has access to this information and can use it to keep track of cars across the country.
The system uses the scanned information to send the police alerts for a wide range of issues, from minor offenses like expired tags to stolen vehicles and other criminal activity. The Vigilant database also allows police officers to conduct a virtual stakeout and predict where a particular car will be. So far, officers have found the system to be extremely successful. Scanning minor offenses such as suspended registration stickers has set off hundreds of alerts per day and the towing of hundreds of vehicles, especially in smaller municipalities.
However, because the Vigilant database allows the NYPD to learn intimate details about people’s whereabouts, many have voiced concerns that the readers are a harsh invasion of privacy. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has spoken out numerous times against the use of license plate readers. Jason Starr, Long Island Director of the NYCLU said, “the tracking of people’s location constitutes a significant invasion of privacy, which can reveal many things about their lives, such as what friends, doctors, protests, political events, or churches a person may visit.”
The information that these readers provide can be extremely useful for law enforcement when catching criminals, but when does technology go too far and invade our right to privacy? For now, the readers are a reality that is resulting in a multitude of citations and arrests. If you have received a traffic violation in New York, contact the experienced traffic attorneys at Rosenblum Law Firm. For a free consultation, call 888-883-5529, or send us an e-mail today.