The Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) are moving to create a database of license plates that are spotted driving down a targeted highway:
The DEA wants to capture the license plates of all vehicles traveling along Interstate 15 in Utah, and store that data for two years at their facility in Northern Virginia. And, as a DEA official told Utah legislators at a hearing this week (attended by ACLU of Utah staff and covered in local media), these scanners are already in place on “drug trafficking corridors” in California and Texas and are being considered for Arizona as well. The agency is also collecting plate data from unspecified other sources and sharing it with over ten thousand law enforcement agencies around the nation.
Why do they want this data? What do they plan to do with the data when they have it? The state does have a hardon for civil forfeiture laws and a database of license plate numbers driving on specific highways would certainly help the state increase the amount it can steal using said laws. Considering the state already claims that merely possessing “too much” cash is evidence of a drug crime it’s not stretch to imagine them claiming driving on a stretch of highway, say during your daily commute to work, would constitue evidence of drug trafficking.
But it’s OK, the DEA only wants to collect license plate numbers, not personally identifiable information:
The DEA official claimed to the Utah legislators that “we’re not trying to capture any personal information—all that this captures is the tag, regardless of who the driver is.” The idea that a license plate number is not personally identifiable information is laughable. It is true that different people can drive one vehicle, but they are usually closely related to the registered owner and their identities are rarely difficult to ascertain after the fact.
I don’t know why the state even feels the need to justify its violations of privacy anymore. Instead of trying to feed us bullshit like claiming license plate numbers, which are registered by the state to a vehicle owner, aren’t personally identifiable information they should say, “We don’t give a fuck about your privacy, due process, or your so-called rights. Now shut up slave or we’ll put you in a cage.”