Tag Archive: Vigilant Solutions


They’re Tracking You Everywhere You Drive

 

 

 

” Towing companies are a necessary evil when it comes to parking enforcement and property repossession. But in the Google Earth we now inhabit, tow trucks do more than just yank cars out of loading zones. They use license-plate readers (LPRs) to assemble a detailed profile of where your car will be and when. That’s an unnecessary evil.

  Plate readers have long been a tool of law enforcement, and police officers swear by them for tracking stolen cars and apprehending dangerous criminals. But private companies, such as repo crews, also photograph millions of plates a day, with scanners mounted on tow trucks and even on purpose-built camera cars whose sole mission is to drive around and collect plate scans. Each scan is GPS-tagged and stamped with the date and time, feeding a massive data trove to any law-enforcement agency—or government-approved private industry—willing to pay for it.

  You’ve probably been tagged at the office, at a mall, or even in your own driveway. And the companies that sell specialized monitoring software that assembles all these sightings into a reliable profile stand to profit hugely. Brian Hauss, a legal fellow for the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), says: “The whole point is so you can figure out somebody’s long-term location. Unless there are limits on how those transactions can be processed, I think it’s just a matter of time until there are significant privacy violations, if they haven’t already occurred.”

  (How Is This Even Legal? License-plate-reader companies don’t have access to DMV registrations, so while they can track your car, they don’t know it’s yours. That information is guarded by the Driver’s Privacy Protection Act of 1994, which keeps your name, address, and driving history from public view. Mostly. There are plenty of exceptions, including for insurance companies and private investigators. LPR companies say only two groups can use its software to find the person behind the plate: law-enforcement agencies and repossession companies. In addition, the encrypted databases keep a log of each plate search and allow the ability to restrict access.)

  The companies that push plate readers enjoy unregulated autonomy in most states. Vigilant Solutions of California and its partner, Texas-based Digital Recognition Network, boast at least 2 billion license-plate scans since starting the country’s largest private license-plate database, the National Vehicle Location Service, in 2009.

  In total, there are at least 3 billion license-plate photos in private databases. Since many are duplicates and never deleted, analytics can paint a vivid picture of any motorist. Predicting where and when someone will drive is relatively easy; software can sort how many times a car is spotted in a certain area and, when fed enough data, can generate a person’s driving history over time.”

 

Read the rest at Popular Mechanics

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

U.S. Spies On Millions Of Cars

 

 

 

 

” The Justice Department has been building a national database to track in real time the movement of vehicles around the U.S., a secret domestic intelligence-gathering program that scans and stores hundreds of millions of records about motorists, according to current and former officials and government documents.

  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.

  Officials have publicly said that they track vehicles near the border with Mexico to help fight drug cartels. What hasn’t been previously disclosed is that the DEA has spent years working to expand the database “throughout the United States,’’ according to one email reviewed by The Wall Street Journal.

Many state and local law-enforcement agencies are accessing the database for a variety of investigations, according to people familiar with the program, putting a wealth of information in the hands of local officials who can track vehicles in real time on major roadways.

  The database raises new questions about privacy and the scope of government surveillance. The existence of the program and its expansion were described in interviews with current and former government officials, and in documents obtained by the American Civil Liberties Union through a Freedom of Information Act request and reviewed by The Wall Street Journal. It is unclear if any court oversees or approves the intelligence-gathering.”

 

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License Plate Reader Technology Looks At Faces

 

 

 

 

” The leading suppler of automated license plate reader technology in the US (ALPR, also known as ANPR in Europe) is expanding its offerings to law enforcement. Vehicle owners have already had their movements tracked by the company Vigilant Solutions, which boasts 2 billion entries in its nationwide database, with 70 million additional license plate photographs being added each month. Now passengers can also be tracked if they hitch a ride with a friend and are photographed by a camera aimed at the front of the car. The Livermore, California-based firm recently announced expanded integration of facial recognition technology into its offerings.”

 

 

 

 

 

” ” The new Vigilant Mobile Companion app expands the benefits of license plate recognition and facial recognition technologies to all areas of the agency,” a Vigilant Solutions press release claimed. “Using many of the new analytic tools that Vigilant has released in its Learn product over the last couple of years, the app makes these tools even more easy to use and accessible on a mobile device. The app also features Vigilant’s FaceSearch facial recognition which analyzes over 350 different vectors of the human face.”

 

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IRS Among Agencies Using License Plate-Tracking Vendor

 

 

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” The Internal Revenue Service and other U.S. agencies awarded about $415,000 in contracts to a license plate-tracking company before Homeland Security leaders dropped a plan for similar work amid privacy complaints.

  Federal offices such as the Forest Service and the U.S. Air Force’s Air Combat Command chose Livermore, California-based Vigilant Solutions to provide access to license plate databases or tools used to collect plate information, according to government procurement records compiled by Bloomberg.

  Vigilant, a closely held company, has received such work since 2009. In February, Jeh Johnson, secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, ordered the cancelation of an immigration agency plan to buy access to national license plate data. While the technology can help solve crimes, the American Civil Liberties Union and other groups have said the mass collection of data infringes the privacy of innocent people.

“ Especially with the IRS, I don’t know why these agencies are getting access to this kind of information,” said Jennifer Lynch, a senior staff attorney with the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a San Francisco-based privacy-rights group. “These systems treat every single person in an area as if they’re under investigation for a crime — that is not the way our criminal justice system was set up or the way things work in a democratic society.” “

Read more at Bloomberg