Wednesday, 23 July 2014 10:13

North Carolina Considers License Plate Tracking on State Roads

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The state senate of North Carolina is close to approving a bill that would allow state and local law enforcement to use automatic license plates reader systems to create databases of people traveling on state roadways.

The state House of Representatives passed the measure in May by a vote of 79-36.

The language of the bill defines the proposed tracking devices as:

a system of one or more mobile or fixed automated high-speed cameras used in combination with computer algorithms to convert images of license plates into computer-readable data.

In some of its broadest language, the bill authorizes use of the cameras to:

any agency or officer of the State of North Carolina or any political subdivision thereof who is empowered by the laws of this State to conduct investigations or to make arrests, and any attorney, including the Attorney General of North Carolina, authorized by the laws of this State to prosecute or participate in the prosecution of those persons arrested or persons who may be subject to civil actions related to or concerning an arrest.

In a familiar trope of those advocating growth of the surveillance state, proponents of the bill point to the potential for tracking and capturing fugitives from the law.

"Had this technology been available, at a right of way, it would've been possible to track down the individual who had committed the crime,” said state Senator Gladys Robinson, speaking of a recent case investigated by officers in her home county.

Others, however, recognize the fingerprints of Big Brother on the legislation.

"When I'm operating legally on a road that I paid for as a citizen, I'm going to be monitored by some nameless, faceless government bureaucrat, to see where I am, where I'm going, monitoring my whole trip," said state Senator Tom Goolsby, as quoted by WUNC, a North Carolina public radio station.

Goolsby, according to the WUNC story, says that “crime in North Carolina is low and this kind of technology is not necessary.”

According to figures released by the North Carolina Department of Justice, Goolsby’s depiction of crime in the Tarheel State is accurate. The NCDOJ reports:

The rate per 100,000 people of Crime Index offenses reported to law enforcement agencies throughout North Carolina decreased 4.4 percent during 2012 when compared to the figures reported in 2011.

Concerning violent crime, the murder rate decreased 3.8 percent, the rape rate decreased 1.0 percent, the robbery rate decreased 3.0 percent, and the aggravated assault rate increased 2.4 percent.

This isn’t North Carolina’s first foray into unwarranted surveillance, however.

An investigation conducted in June by a Wilmington, North Carolina news team found that the Wilmington Police Department “has spent over half a million dollars since 2008 to purchase, maintain and upgrade the equipment known in law enforcement circles as Stingray.”

The suitcase-sized Stingray masquerades as a cell tower to trick cellphones into connecting to it. It can give police tracking identifiers for phones within a mile or more, depending on terrain. Given the mobility of the device, police who use it can triangulate a target’s location with better accuracy than if they relied on data transferred by traditional cell towers.

This equipment isn't cheap. According to published reports, each Stingray device costs about $150,000. Despite the cost, however, USA Today reports that at least 25 police departments admit to owning a Stingray, with 30 other cities refusing to disclose whether or not they own one of these expensive surveillance devices.

Fortunately for North Carolina voters, the license plate tracking bill has been taken off the calendar and on July 21 was re-referred to the state senate Committee on Rules and Operations of the Senate.

This gives North Carolinians time to contact their state senators and encourage them to vote no on House Bill 348.


 

Joe A. Wolverton, II, J.D. is a correspondent for The New American. Follow him on Twitter @TNAJoeWolverton and he can be reached at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. .

5 comments

  • Comment Link Dave Burton Friday, 01 August 2014 00:37 posted by Dave Burton

    This article is not accurate. The language quoted from the bill in this NewAmerican article was NOT included in the version of the bill which passed the NC House. This is the version that passed the NC House on a 79-36 vote:

    http://ncleg.net/Sessions/2013/Bills/House/HTML/H348v2.html

    The language quoted in this article was added to the bill as "Amendment 1" by Senator Floyd McKissick (D-Durham), but it was never seen or voted on by the NC House. For it to have become law, the amended bill would have had to have been passed by the Senate and then sent back to the House for concurrence, neither of which has happened.

    The bill history (including the various versions of the bill) is here:

    http://ncleg.net/gascripts/BillLookUp/BillLookUp.pl?Session=2013&BillID=H348&submitButton=Go
    (Note that the version sent back to the Senate Rules Committee includes the changes in all three 07/16/2014 floor amendments.)

  • Comment Link Michael Dalene Friday, 25 July 2014 13:26 posted by Michael Dalene

    WE NEED CAMERAS IN HOMES AND BEDROOMS WHERE CHILD RAPE AND SPOUSAL ABUSE IS MOST LIKELY TO OCCUR!

    How often does a man rape a child at the local street corner? How often does a man beat his wife in the front yard?

    THE REAL CRIMINALS ARE HIDING INSIDE, AND THAT IS WHERE THE SURVIELENCE NEEDS TO BE!

    And whom among you that support such intrusions would deny that? WHY WOULD YOU OBJECT TO HAVING A CAMERA IN YOUR LIVING ROOM OR BEDROOM? After all, unless you are really doing 'some sic-sh8t,' YOU HAVE NOTHING TO FEAR!

  • Comment Link Michael Dalene Friday, 25 July 2014 13:19 posted by Michael Dalene

    TAKE MY GUN! TAKE MY KNIFE! When driven to the point of wanting to kill, I find watching their 'eyes pop' as I wrap my hands tighter and tighter around their throat much more Pleasurable and memorable than a quick "Bang!"

    Shooting people is ant-climatic. It's like having sex but never an orgasm!

  • Comment Link Michael Dalene Friday, 25 July 2014 13:10 posted by Michael Dalene

    IS GOVERNMENT SCARED? Damned right, and for GOOD REASON. The day is coming (hopefully very soon) that wearing a badge, working for the government (ST or Fed), voting (giving 'color of law' to), and (voluntarily) paying taxes (giving 'Aid and Comfort') will be considered the CRIMES THEY ARE...

    TREASON!!!

    Treason for which the punishment will be DEATH! LET THEM SUFFER BY THEIR OWN LAWS... let their children be "tried as adults" as their "laws?" allow?... TREASON IS AS INFAMOUS A CRIME AS MURDER, RAPE, CHILD MOLESTATION, etc.

    If these 'voters and taxpayers' that support sending children to 'jail for Life' for lesser crimes such as Rape and Murder than they shouldn't flinch or 'bat an eye' when their children are sentenced TO LIFE (or Death) for Treason!

    If "ignorance of the Law" is no excuse for those that violate them, then "ignorance of the CONSTITUTIONAL/COMMON Law" for those that blatantly commit Treason--- the Constitution's of this nation are far easier to access and understand than statutory laws,... is a WELCOMED fact!....

    EXECUTE FOR TREASON 250 MILLION SELF-PROFESSED "AMERICANS" AND DEPORT THE ILLEGALS... *** Those numbers subject to change--- However, more amerikans will die in next decade than all those of all the wars in American history!

    MANDATORY: ALL POLITICINS, THE "ELITE," AND THEIR FAMILIES MUST BE STRIPPED OF ALL WEALTH AND POWER--- and if not executed for their crimes, made PRISONERS FOR LIFE...

  • Comment Link Nora Wednesday, 23 July 2014 20:25 posted by Nora

    You citizens of North Carolina better hammer on those responsible for this horrible big brother baloney and stop it in its tracks. Pushing back is the only way to protect your constitutional rights to travel freely without government surveillance, illegal search and the seizure of your personal property.

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