Thursday, January 12, 2012
Capitalizing on one of the fastest-growing trends in law enforcement, a private company in Livermore has compiled a database bulging with more than 550 million bits of information that let police know when and where specific license plates of both innocent and criminal drivers were spotted.
The technology has raised alarms among civil libertarians, who say it threatens the privacy of drivers. It's also evidence that 21st century technology may be evolving too quickly for the courts and public opinion to keep up. The U.S. Supreme Court is only now addressing whether investigators can secretly attach a GPS monitoring device to cars without a warrant.
A ruling in that case has yet to be handed down, but a telling exchange occurred during oral arguments. Chief Justice John Roberts asked lawyers for the government if even he and other members of the court could feasibly be tracked by GPS without a warrant. Yes, came the answer.