Slatest PM: The Police Know Where You've Been

The Slatest
Your News Companion by Ben Mathis-Lilley
July 17 2013 4:14 PM

Slatest PM: The Police Know Where You've Been

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A super-camera reading license plates is probably in this picture somewhere.

Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

They Can Do What? Washington Post: "The spread of cheap, powerful cameras capable of reading license plates has allowed police to build databases on the movements of millions of Americans over months or even years, according to an American Civil Liberties Union report released Wednesday. The license-plate readers, which police typically mount along major roadways or on the backs of cruisers, can identify vehicles almost instantly and compare them against ‘hot lists’ of cars that have been stolen or involved in crimes."

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Why This Is Troubling: More from WaPo: "But the systems collect records on every license plate they encounter — whether or not they are on hot lists — meaning time and location data are gathered in databases that can be searched by police. Some departments purge information after a few weeks, some after a few months and some never, said the report, which warns that such data could be abused by authorities, and chill freedom of speech and association. ‘Using them to develop vast troves of information on where Americans travel is not an appropriate use,’ said Catherine Crump, a staff attorney at the ACLU and one of the authors of the report, ‘You are Being Tracked: How License Plate Readers Are Being Used to Record Americans’ Movements.’”

Shifting Standards: Wired: "The standards by which the authorities may access the data varies. In the Northern California town of Pittsburg, for example, local police may analyze the database for ‘any routine patrol operation or criminal investigation,’ and ‘reasonable suspicion or probable cause is not required,’ according to the report. In Scarsdale, New York, the barrier for access ‘is only limited by the officer’s imagination.’ The report also illuminates a network of private companies — many in the repossession business — that scan 50 million license plates a month in major metropolitan areas and sell the data to law enforcement agencies. ‘These huge databases of plate information are not subject to any data security or privacy regulations governing license plate reader data,’ the report said. ‘These companies decide who can access license plate data and for what purposes.’”

It’s Wednesday. Welcome to the Slatest PM, where we’re rounding up the day’s top stories and keeping the A/C on high (because we should). Follow me, your afternoon news guide, on Twitter at @s_brodez and the whole team at @slatest.

Queen Signs Off on Gay Marriage in UK: Washington Post: “With little fanfare or controversy, Britain announced Wednesday that Queen Elizabeth II — hardly a social radical — had signed into law a bill legalizing same-sex marriages in England and Wales. … Official word that the queen had approved the bill drew cheers in the usually sedate House of Commons. ‘This is a historic moment that will resonate in many people’s lives,’ Equalities Minister Maria Miller said in a statement. ‘I am proud that we have made it happen and I look forward to the first same sex wedding by next summer.’”

Map of the Week: Where Gay Marriage is Legal

U.N. Says Syria Worst Crisis Since Rwanda: Al Jazeera: “Six thousand people are fleeing Syria every day as the conflict intensifies and merges with violence in neighbouring Iraq, United Nations officials have said. The warnings were given on Tuesday at a rare public briefing of the UN's Security Council in New York. The High Commissioner for Refugees, Antonio Guterres, told the meeting that the organisation had ‘not seen a refugee outflow escalate at such a frightening rate since the Rwandan genocide almost 20 years ago.’”

CVS, Walgreens to Boycott Tsarnaev Cover: Boston Magazine: “The latest issue of Rolling Stone magazine, which features a close-up of alleged Boston bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, doesn’t hit shelves until Friday. But in some locations that usually carry the magazine, it won’t be hitting the shelves at all. … CVS chains will also hold off from promoting the Tsarnaev cover. In a statement from the company, representatives said they couldn’t support Rolling Stone. ‘CVS/pharmacy has decided not to sell the current issue of Rolling Stone featuring a cover photo of the Boston Marathon bombing suspect. As a company with deep roots in New England and a strong presence in Boston, we believe this is the right decision out of respect for the victims of the attack and their loved ones.’” Photo of the cover: here.

Zimmerman Juror on Stand Your Ground: Reuters: “A juror in the George Zimmerman trial on Wednesday called for changes in the self-defense law that she said gave her no option but to find Zimmerman not guilty in the shooting death of unarmed black teenager Trayvon Martin. With her identity kept secret, the juror, designated B-37, gave an interview to CNN on Monday. … After receiving a torrent of criticism, including a statement to CNN from four other jurors who said she did not speak for them, the juror issued a statement further stressing her position that Florida's self-defense law, commonly known as Stand Your Ground, forced the jury to vote not guilty."

Senator Calls for Olympics Boycott: NBC News: “A key U.S. senator has told NBC News that the United States should consider boycotting the upcoming Winter Games if Russian President Vladimir Putin grants leaker Edward Snowden asylum — a suggestion that a top U.S. Olympic official quickly rejected. ‘I love the Olympics, but I hate what the Russian government is doing throughout the world,’ Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., told NBC News on Tuesday. ‘If they give asylum to a person who I believe has committed treason against the United States, that's taking it to a new level.’  Graham even suggested that Putin's actions should raise the specter of the pre-World War II Berlin games hosted by Adolf Hitler's regime.”

House Committee Slams NSA: Reuters: “U.S. spy agencies went too far when they built a massive database of all daily telephone call records and may have jeopardized political support for the very law they relied on to create it, members of Congress said on Wednesday. Lawmakers said at a hearing of the House Judiciary Committee that they doubted the legal provision had the votes to win renewal before it is set to expire in June 2015.”

Wrong Time for Cheney?: Politico: “Sen. John Barrasso, the junior senator from Wyoming, said Wednesday he supports Sen. Mike Enzi in the 2014 Republican primary against challenger Liz Cheney. ‘I think that Liz, she’s terrific and I think she has a future that is very, very bright,’ Barrasso said on MSNBC’s ‘The Daily Rundown.’ ‘I just think this is the wrong race at the wrong time.’ Cheney, daughter of former Vice President Dick Cheney, announced her run Tuesday shortly after Enzi said that he would run for reelection.”

A Few More Quick Hits from Slate:

That's all for today. See you back here tomorrow. Until next time, tell your friends to subscribe, or simply forward the newsletter on and let them make up their own minds.

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