The report warns that while currently the cameras are being sold to private institutions like homeowners associations in Illinois and North Carolina to monitor speed, they are also being sold to police departments to keep minute-by-minute surveillance of individual cars as the company “effectively enlists its customers into a giant centralized government surveillance network,” according to the ACLU report.
Across America, a new and rapidly growing surveillance company called Flock Safety is building a giant interconnected surveillance network that law enforcement can use to track us.
This form of mass surveillance is unlike anything we’ve seen before in our country.
— ACLU (@ACLU) March 3, 2022
Recently, such surveillance methods were deployed on both sides of the border to keep track of those who participated in the Freedom Convoy of truckers in Canada, raising worries that these technologies will be used to create a surveillance state.
“We are concerned about all of this massive influx of technology over the last year or so and the question of what really happens to it and ultimately (it is) utilized,” said Ed Yohnka, director of communications and public policy with ACLU of Illinois, according to the Center Square.
Police departments, said Yohnka, are justifying the deployment of these systems as crime continues unabated in the US and police continue to look for every advantage to fight crime, said Center Square.
The problem comes that with proprietary technologies comes a lack of supervision that legally protects the privacy of the companies that own the technology, effectively barring a look at how they came up with results.
And that privacy can lead to biased interpretations.
“You could do the same with your law enforcement facial recognition data to make sure that your friends were unrecognizable and your enemies were misidentified as criminals,” Joseph Flores, a software developer told the New York Times last year about facial recognition technology.
“It’s hard to challenge the legality or the reliability of math that you can’t review. Especially with the data scale we’re talking about. With no review everything is falsifiable and just modern phrenology.”
The ACLU says that the risks of abuse far outweigh any potential benefit that the technology may offer.
“The risk of abuse by government is all too real,” the ACLU reports found.
“Unfortunately, this country has a long tradition, extending up to the present, of law enforcement targeting people not because they’re suspected of criminal activity but because of their political or religious beliefs or race,” the report continued. “There are also many documented instances of individual officers abusing police databases.”
Illinois in particular has had issues with these types of traffic enforcement providers cutting inside deals with politicians that have too often lead to bribery, corruption, indictments and prison sentences.
“With a federal corruption probe burrowing deeper into Springfield, the Illinois General Assembly has only one choice when it comes to the future of a red-light camera industry that has infected nearly 100 communities statewide: shut it down,” said the Illinois Policy Center.