The federal government is using more and more sophisticated tools to track and catch criminals at the southern border. But a new report warns that technology could be coming to a neighborhood near you. Things like drones, face scanners, and license plate readers---once only used at the border---are now part of the arsenal of local police and sheriffs across the country. Even some HOAs are now utilizing license plate readers.
This technological rush in the name of security has been staggering and is potentially dangerous, according to David Maass with the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF). "We know there are sensors, we know there are cameras that are triggered by movement, we have seen iris scanning, facial recognition, drones, spy planes," he tells KTRH. "I'm not even sure the government knows what it's collecting any more, and that's the issue---the government should not be collecting more data than it can control or than it can protect."
The public often supports these types of surveillance when it comes to border security or catching dangerous criminals, but local adoption of these tools is often motivated by other factors. "Surveillance is being driven by vendors," says Maass. "Not by public safety, not by security, not by discussions between community members and elected leaders, but rather by police sitting in rooms with sales people."
For that reason, Maass and the EFF are calling for voters and local officials to be more skeptical of this surveillance technology. "When police are telling you only the best-case scenario, but not telling you the worst-case scenario (with this technology), you should stop it dead in its tracks, and make sure it goes through a full, transparent, accountable process," says Maass.