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Privacy: Once it's gone, it'll be hard to get back

Register • Jul 30, 2013 at 1:03 PM

My topic this week is about the license plate readers.

It appears the city grabbed up a free grant and didn’t know exactly what they were getting into. The city claims they can’t get into the state’s data base with the readers and they practically serve no purpose but to collect data for Homeland Security. Washington has flimflammed the city with the word free in exchange for our privacy. I am glad there wasn’t any local matching money included because there would be an even bigger issue with the whole matter.

There was once a Washington senator who gave out Golden Fleece awards to the government for wasted tax dollars. The police readers would surely qualify for that award. I can’t imagine the police department receiving the grant and not asking whether or not the equipment would be adaptable with the entity’s application; but on the other hand, the grant was free so who cares to ask any further questions to vet the equipment.

There seems to be a lot of complacency among the younger generation about privacy. The younger people were brought up with cameras all around them. The older folks have experienced what freedom is all about so it is difficult for the older folks to give it up without a fight. It seems our freedoms are being slowly stripped away until we end up feeling like we are living in a communistic country. If you don’t complain to your elected officials about how you want your privacy distributed, you will wake up some day and wonder how all your privacy just vanished when you were too busy to even pay attention.

Once freedom is gone, it will be impossible to gain it back. The public cannot afford to become complacent or too busy to contact your elected officials to tell them you are not at all happy with their decision to circumvent your privacy. I think if data collection is warranted, the people should have the right to be notified of that fact.

I would like for our police department to completely remove the readers and not just tell us that they are no longer being used while they are still installed on the cars. If the police department didn’t ask enough questions before the readers were installed, how can we trust the police department to keep the readers on the car and then tell us they are not being used?

Until next week, if no one complains, the entity tends to take advantage of the situation and more cameras will start to appear all in the name of terrorism and safety as an excuse to collect data on us. It is entirely up to you to monitor how much personal data collection is tolerable.


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