It’s been 65 years since George Orwell published his renowned novel, Nineteen Eighty-Four. Since then, his story of a dystopian state controlled by Big Brother has been cited countless times, especially in reference to the United States.
Unfortunately, that’s not surprising. Surveillance is at an all-time high in America. Citizens’ rights, particularly regarding privacy, are being stripped away so fast that many don’t even realize it’s happening. And, sadly, there’s no end in sight.
In fact, the hits just keep coming. Most recently, on February 12, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) released its synopsis of the National License Plate Recognition Database, a program that will give the government an even greater ability to spy on its citizens at will.
The license plate tracking system is supposedly intended to “track aliens and absconders.” But, not surprisingly, other countries with similar programs already in place have had to deal with an avalanche of abuse.
Take the United Kingdom, for instance, where similar cameras were used to target anti-war protestors who had no connection to terrorism whatsoever. In Australia, the cameras have been used to keep a record of people who violate parking restrictions and to collect extraordinary amounts of data about innocent citizens.
In America, preliminary concerns over the tracking program seem justified, especially considering that the DHS has funded reports that characterize “liberty lovers” as potential terrorists.
Chipping Away At the Foundation of Liberty
The License Plate Recognition Database would be outrageous enough on its own, but it’s only the latest in a long line of privacy violations. The government’s thirst for control seemingly knows no bounds. And its obsession with tracking transportation is well documented.
In fact, in conjunction with the license plate tracking program, the DHS has launched a mass transit camera system in Massachusetts worth over $7 million. Soon, 70% of all MBTA bus routes will be on camera 100% of the time. So even if you’re just going to work or to the store, you’ll be on camera for the DHS to see. Better not make any sudden moves…
These recent DHS programs are far from the totality of the government’s plans. Just check out this article from Tech & Innovation Daily’s Chief Technology Analyst, Marty Biancuzzo, about hidden, government-mandated black boxes in cars. If you’ve bought a vehicle in the last two years, there’s a 96% chance that every move you’ve made in that vehicle has been recorded, from your distance traveled to your destinations to how fast you were going.
Marty also broke a story for Capitol Hill Daily fully seven months ago about license plate tracking! In preparation for the License Plate Recognition Database, the government has been installing “Automatic License Plate Readers” all across the country. They’re tracking millions of plates, despite an outrageously low percentage of plate reads actually leading to criminals. In Maryland, for example, the rate is 47 serious criminals for every 1 million plate reads.
Meanwhile, we’re all familiar with surveillance programs targeting our phones, computers and email, among other things. At this point, it’s almost impossible to escape the watchful eye of the government, whether you’re on the road, at work, or in your home. I bet George Orwell would be turning in his grave if he knew that his vision of Big Brother was actually coming to fruition.
In Pursuit of the Truth,
Originally Posted on Capitol Hill Daily