Wednesday, July 22, 2009


KCBS - Tiburon's police chief is proposing using cameras to record the license plate number of every car that enters that city.

Tiburon is only accessible by two roads which means police could point the cameras, which are known as license plate readers, at every lane that leads into the city.

Police Chief Michael Cronin says the devises can compare plates to databases of cars that have been stolen or linked to crimes and immediately notify police of matches.

If the Town Council gives final approval to the idea, officials hope to install the readers by late fall.

Civil liberties groups are not happy about the proposal. Representatives of the ACLU of Northern California call the cameras a needle in a haystack approach that may waste money, invade privacy, and invite unfair profiling.

California ACLU - California cities are moving quickly to install video surveillance cameras on public streets and plazas without regulations, with little or no public debate, and without an evaluation of their effectiveness.

Even though 37 cities have some type of video surveillance program, and 10 cities are considering expansive programs, no jurisdiction in California has conducted a comprehensive evaluation of the surveillance cameras’ effectiveness. The ACLU sent Public Records Act requests to a total of 131 jurisdictions statewide and received responses from 119 cities.

Nicole Ozer, Technology and Civil Liberties Policy Director and report co-author, raises another serious concern. “The threat of widespread government surveillance only multiplies when cameras are combined with other new technologies such as radio frequency identification tags, face and eye scans, and automated identification software. In this light, video surveillance cameras provide a critical pillar for an emerging government surveillance infrastructure.”


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