The town of Paradise Valley in Arizona has installed license plate scanning cameras in fake cactuses with no public consultation whatsoever, just days after the DHS announced its intention to revive a nationwide version of the program.
Residents were alarmed to see the cactus cameras popping up throughout the town over the last few days with no indication of what they were being used for as city officials refused to explain their purpose until all the cameras were installed.
Town leaders initially declined to even talk to local station Fox 10 about the cameras, with Paradise Valley Police saying they were “not prepared to make a statement at this time.” The network was similarly rebuffed when they attempted to get answers on license plate scanners that were being installed in traffic lights back in February.
Fox 10’s Jill Monier was eventually able to speak to Town Manager Kevin Burke, who admitted that the cameras were being used to “run license plates of cars against a hotlist database.”
When asked why officials had been secretive about the cameras, which are being placed on the perimeter of the town, Burke asserted that there was “nothing to hide” and that the cameras wouldn’t be activated until privacy concerns had been addressed.
“Shouldn’t that have been vetted before they even went up?” asked Monier, to which Burke responded, “It probably is fair.”
The cameras are part of a $2 million “technology upgrade” passed by the council last year. It is not know whether the Department of Homeland Security contributed to this figure, although the DHS has funded the introduction of license plate scanners in other cities.
In February 2014, the DHS announced that it intended to create, “a nationwide database with information from license-plate readers that scan every vehicle crossing their paths,” a proposal that alarmed privacy groups.
Americans are a little slow on the uptake. I have firsthand knowledge of what it’s like to live under total electronic surveillance, forced to live in a house that I had deduced had been outfitted with surveillance equipment. I’m here to tell you that it’s kinda creepy. You can’t even pick your nose or jack off without thinking about the pervs in your audience. And if they’ve done it once, they’ll do it again. If I want to have a private conversation with someone, I have to leave my own house. It’s America! It’s Freedom Land USA!
You do not want to live in a surveillance state.
If I were ever to find some sort of license plate reader or other camera in public, I would come back later and spray paint it. Paintball guns would probably work well for that purpose. And after all the cameras had been destroyed, our useless government employees would have to content themselves with performing their original function of defending the people’s natural rights. And while there is no natural right to privacy in public, I think we might reasonably demand that the most useless stratum of society stop making databases of the comings and goings of their masters.
I am America’s Senior Comedian. Thank you for your kind attention in this matter.