Rob Wipond has written a dizzying account trying to get to the bottom of privacy issues surrounding ALPR technology for the Feb 2012 issue of Victoria-based magazine FOCUS.
If you’ve ever attended court to get legal custody of your child, had a mental health problem attended to by police, or been accused of breaking a municipal bylaw, you have something in common with car thieves and child kidnappers in Victoria B.C.: Information about you that Automatic License Plate Recognition (ALPR) and the RCMP collects is stored in a giant database for two or more years – just in case.
It turns out the system isn’t as great, simple or straightforward as it has been reported elsewhere.
As Wipond writes, Micheal Vonn, policy director for the B.C. Civil Liberties Association describes the ALPR program:
"As an illustration of function creep, you have an absolutely brilliant illustration here…It means we go from instituting a technology that comes in through the back door of a pilot project, never properly debated up front…and the whole rationale is going to be stolen cars. And within how many months of the pilot, we’re already pushing for population-based surveillance…"
Wipond requested documents under Access to Information, was denied them, given the run-around and told things that conflicted what official documents stated – and even found contradictions in those documents themselves.
So, he wrote about the entire process and reveals what he’s found out so far about ALPR and what it means for individuals’ privacy. Check it out here.