Are Radar Speed Signs Collecting Plate Numbers?
Normally, when you pass by one of those roadside radar speed signs they show you how fast you're going (and yes, when they are flashing YOU ARE GOING TOO FAST), but they soon may start doing something new.
According to an article on Quartz, the Drug Enforcement Agency may soon begin using those radar speed signs to collect license plate numbers. In the 2018 budget for the DEA, they describe the program as:
“A federation of independent federal, state, local and tribal law enforcement license plate readers linked into a cooperative system, designed to enhance the ability of law enforcement agencies to interdict drug traffickers, money launderers or other criminal activities on high drug and money trafficking corridors and other public roadways throughout the U.S.”
While the concept of placing these readers in roadside signs is new, the readers themselves have been around for over a decade and the DEA has been using them since 2008.
This video demonstrates how the Denver PD uses the system
Clearly, many people are concerned that this amounts to mass surveillance. Some people fear they could be considered a suspect in a crime simply because the license plate readers logged them as being in the vicinity of a crime. So far, the DEA isn't saying much about their plans for the data they collect.
It appears this program, at least initially, will be based on the Southwest part of the U.S. But, as Maine is a border state, who knows when they may start using them up here.
The DEA is expected to take possession of their first batch of signs on October 15th.