Letter to the Editor: No to license plate readers

Letter to the Editor: No to license plate readers

Letters to the Editor

This letter was forwarded to The Alamedan for publication.

Dear Vice-Mayor Marilyn Ezzy Ashcraft:

It was troubling to hear you say, at Tuesday's council meeting, that you "could not follow (my) argument." Seriously? Please view the following links, (Google search "Jerry Hill Vigilant "):

http://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-law-enforcement-contractors-201405...

http://www.abajournal.com/news/article/proposed_california_bill_would_re...

http://www.smdailyjournal.com/articles/lnews/2014-04-07/license-plate-da...

After hearing the Alameda City Council's discussion on ALPRs, it was painfully clear that you and the rest of the council had either not read the ACLU's paper, or failed to understand it.

Note the San Leandro man who discovered "one image that showed his daughters in the driveway." It is FALSE that these archived images show only license plate data, no matter what Chief Rolleri says. It was also in the ACLU report.

Also note the date on this LA Times story: May 16 - before the council meeting. Are you really claiming to have done your due diligence on this issue?

Unfortunately, Assemblyman Jerry Hill's bill is only addressing the sharing of data with private companies. As I attempted to inform you all, a myriad of state and federal agencies have their own squad of sworn peace officers, who carry guns and handcuffs and wear body armor. They have full police power and would have no problem accessing ALPR data for use as an "investigative tool." Investigative tools need no probable cause, and their use does not require due process to be afforded to the subject of the investigation. Obviously, state and federal agencies would not have to buy this ALPR data from Vigilant - they could just pull rank on the Alameda Police Department. And if they access the data as an investigative tool, they might not even have to inform the local police what they are up to.

Some of the agencies with such squads are: ICE, IRS, DEA, OSHA, EPA, ATF, DCA and of course, FBI and NSA. It only takes a single anonymous complaint to the right agency to trigger the use of an "investigative tool." This is what has already happened to conservatives like Catherine Englebrecht of TrueTheVote, who were targeted by someone in the federal government. She and her family business were investigated by the EPA, ATF, FBI and OSHA, as well as being audited by the IRS. The investigations turned up no wrongdoing, but cost the subjects much in stress, time and money.

The local angle: Many small businesses (liquor stores, beauty parlors, acupuncturists, chiropractors, doctors offices) involve some kind of government issued professional license. Filing an anonymous and fabricated complaint with a government agency is a not uncommon way to make trouble for your competition in small business. Use of one of these "tools" can make more trouble for your competition in a week than they can undo in a year or more.

If Alameda was just a bedroom community like Piedmont or Tiburon, ALPRs might make some sense. But ALPRs create a chilling effect on small businesses in the long run, even if the current business owners you poll are unable to appreciate the concept.

If you doubt my word, just look up the job description of "DCA Investigator" or the case law on the absence of due process in the quasi-judicial process which is administrative law.

Very truly yours,
Carol Gottstein