(imported from old site)
The officials of town of Tiburon, California are currently proposing a system in which every license plate entering or leaving the town is photographed and recorded. Town Manager Peggy Curran says, “As long as you don’t arrive in a stolen vehicle or go on a crime spree while you’re here, your anonymity will be preserved.” The reason?
Curled on the edge of the San Francisco Bay in Marin County, Tiburon is not a high-crime spot. In 2008, police report there were 99 thefts, 20 burglaries and two auto thefts.
That was not a significant change from the year before. But police say with most of the crimes taking place at night, and suspects identified so far as out-of-towners with criminal records, they believe having the license plate information would be helpful in solving crimes.
The way the system would work is still cameras set up at town entry points will take a photograph of license plates — but not drivers. License plate numbers collected would be erased within 30 to 60 days and would not be viewed unless there is a crime to solve.
On paper it sounds like it could be a potentially useful idea, but I can’t help but think of how easily it could be to misuse the system. That is even before you realise that what this does is treat everyone who enters or leaves the town as a potential criminal. It seems like a sad twisting of the idea of innocent until proven guilty. In the end I think Lee Tien of the Electronic Frontier Foundation sums it up best with his quote on this: “If you keep pushing this, then that means we should track everyone just because some people might be bad guys. That’s not the way I think America is supposed to be.”
I have to agree.