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WTF Wednesday – The Government is Watching You Drive

Last weeks WTF Wednesday had to do with what the government pays to monitor your phone calls, texts and emails.  Guess what else about you they’re interested in?

Your driving!   Yep, they can tell where you drive, when you do it, how you may be doing it illegally … lots of stuff.  It’s all thanks to a series of tiny cameras you’ve probably never even noticed mounted on bridges, cop cars, signs, overpasses … they’re WTF-ing everywhere!!

Even if you’ve never done anything wrong, there are quite likely pictures of your vehicle, on file somewhere noting where and when you were driving that go back years!  According to an article at;

Using automated scanners, law enforcement agencies across the country have amassed millions of digital records on the location and movement of every vehicle with a license plate, according to a study published Wednesday by the American Civil Liberties Union. Affixed to police cars, bridges or buildings, the scanners capture images of passing or parked vehicles and note their location, uploading that information into police databases. Departments keep the records for weeks or years, sometimes indefinitely.

Photo by Jed Leicester/Getty Images

Of course, law enforcement agencies claim they never access these records unless your ride is implicated in a crime.  It’s still pretty creepy though knowing you’re being watched every time you go to the store.  Better quit picking your nose on the freeway .. they have pictures!

In this “nanny state” age, what else could this be used for? Will they tell your boss your car was at Wet n Wild that day you called in sick?  Make you go to counseling if you drive to the liquor store too often?   Search your babysitter’s house with a drug warrant because they see you and others coming and going there a lot and/or at weird hours?

And, exactly what crimes is this record keeping blitz stopping or preventing?  According to the yahoo article, in Maryland;

the state reported reading about 29 million plates between January and May of last year. Of that amount, about 60,000 — or roughly 1 in every 500 license plates — were suspicious. The No. 1 crime? A suspended or revoked registration, or a violation of the state’s emissions inspection program accounted for 97 percent of all alerts.

Money well spent, Maryland!  At least Maryland has rules regarding these records including a “criminal investigations only” policy and a limit of 1-year for the time records are kept. They have some checks and balances in place, but not all states do.

What will you say if you’re asked what your car was doing at a certain location 5 years ago?


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