The Justice Department has acknowledged constructing a database to track the movements of millions of vehicles across the U.S. in real time.
A Justice Department spokesman told Fox News that the tracking program is compliant with federal [law]… claiming it “includes protocols that limit who can access the database and all of the license plate information is deleted after 90 days.”
Perhaps (although with this Justice Department or this administration, that’s hard to see), but that doesn’t make it right, or consistent with the precepts of our Constitution. And how do we know the information is “deleted after 90 days?” We don’t know when it was collected, starting that clock. We have only the Eric Holder DoJ’s word that the data are deleted. We know from experience with IRS “lost emails” that “deleted” doesn’t necessarily mean deleted.
It is not clear whether the tracking is overseen or approved by any court.
The Wall Street Journal had this from its original tale:
The primary goal of the license-plate tracking program, run by the Drug Enforcement Administration, is to seize cars, cash and other assets to combat drug trafficking, according to one government document. But the database’s use has expanded to hunt for vehicles associated with numerous other potential crimes, from kidnappings to killings to rape suspects, say people familiar with the matter.
The program’s current scope is this:
[It] collects data about vehicle movements, including time, direction and location, from high-tech cameras placed strategically on major highways. Many devices also record visual images of drivers and passengers, which are sometimes clear enough for investigators to confirm identities, according to DEA documents and people familiar with the program.
The documents show that the DEA also uses license-plate readers operated by state, local, and federal law-enforcement agencies to feed into its own network and create a far-reaching, constantly updating database of electronic eyes scanning traffic on the roads….
That’s the problem with a government program—it grows, it never shrinks, it never is eliminated. When the program is a secret one, its expansion is hard to discern, and the program is even harder for a free people to control. When the program is used to spy on the citizens, it’s extremely dangerous to our liberty.
What will happen when the program is further expanded—because anonymous donations to this or that political organization is viewed, by government, to be inimical? What will happen when the program is used to harass groups of Americans of whom the men in government disapprove, or of whom the men in government especially favor? Think that can’t happen? Look no further than this Justice Department and white voter intimidation by New Black Panthers and this DoJ’s avowed policy of not going after voter crimes involving white victims and black perpetrators. Look no further than this administration’s use of the IRS to go after political groups the White House doesn’t like.