The editorial board of the Orlando Sentinel has an editorial on the use of Automated License Plate Readers that is…. naive and unworthy of the paper. Joe Cadillic sent this along without comment, but I could hear him gritting his teeth from far away…
After noting the problems and risk, the editorial goes on to say
Such assurances sound good, but they must be backed up by policies. OPD hasn’t finalized them yet, but Draisin said every officer will need a username and password to access Vigilant Solution’s database.
Having unique accounts will allow supervisors to essentially watch the watchers. The policies and training programs are expected to be in place within 60 days.
“Every agency we’ve talked to says this is far and away the best tool they’ve started using,” Draisin said.
In real life, APBs are more than plot devices. They mean a convenience store has been robbed or a child has been abducted or a murderer is on the run.
There’s no question high-tech surveillance can threaten civil liberties. But as long as safeguards are in place, the rewards should outweigh the risks.
But the safeguards aren’t in place yet. And no one has yet audited the safeguards if they really do safeguard civil liberties. So why is the editorial board talking about what “should” happen. Given all the abuses of power and surveillance we have seen — and might I remind everyone that Florida has had more than its share of insider breaches — a more prudent editorial would have been to demand that first all safeguards be in place, then they get audited by the ACLU or civil liberties group, and then, we can talk about whether this is a good idea or not….