Big Brother: Seattle Suburb Monitors All Vehicles Entering City

Big Brother comes to Medina, Washington:

In Medina, a new sign bears this warning: “You Are Entering a 24 Hour Video Surveillance Area.”

Cameras have recently been installed at intersections to monitor every vehicle coming into the city.

Under the “automatic license plate recognition” project, once a car enters Medina, a camera captures its license-plate number. Within seconds, the number is run through a database.

If a hit comes up for a felony — say, the vehicle was reported stolen or is being driven by a homicide suspect — the information is transmitted instantaneously to police, who can “leap into action,” said Police Chief Jeffrey Chen.

Now, it’s very, VERY rare that I ever agree with the ACLU, I have to somewhat agree with them in this case:

Doug Honig, spokesman for the American Civil Liberties Union of Washington, said such a system smacks of privacy violations.

“Government shouldn’t be keeping records of people’s comings and goings when they haven’t done anything wrong,” he said. “By actions like this, we’re moving closer and closer to a surveillance society.”

While I would normally be 110% behind any effort to lower crime and help protect the innocent, Medina isn’t exactly a high-crime area:

Medina — a city of 3,100 with an average household income of $222,000 — had discussed the idea for years as a way to discourage crime, city officials said.

Last year, there were 11 burglaries, Chen said.

“Some people think [that number of burglaries] is tolerable,” he said. “But even one crime is intolerable.”

3,100 people? 11 burglaries? Save us!

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~ by tom on September 16, 2009.

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