ICYMI: The DEA Has Been Tracking License Plates Since 2008


There has always been a tug of war when it comes to the government’s responsibility to ensure public safety and privacy concerns. We can all agree that ‘bad guys’ need to be caught, but at the same time that doesn’t give the government the right to do whatever it wants to achieve that goal. If someone is a law abiding citizen, they shouldn’t have to look over their shoulder wondering if they are constantly being watched.

Waging a War on Marijuana, and the Drug War in general, has led to many infringements of civil liberties. An example of surveillance gone wrong, the DEA has been collecting license plate information since 2008. Per the Pacific Standard:

The DEA program collects data about vehicle movements, including time, direction and location, from high-tech cameras placed strategically on major highways. Many devices also record visual images of drivers and passengers, which are sometimes clear enough for investigators to confirm identities, according to DEA documents and people familiar with the program.

The documents show that the DEA also uses license-plate readers operated by state, local and federal law-enforcement agencies to feed into its own network and create a far-reaching, constantly updating database of electronic eyes scanning traffic on the roads to steer police toward suspects.

One of my all time favorite quotes comes from a Supreme Court case dealing with privacy. The case is Olmstead v. U.S. (1928) and the quote is from Justice Brandeis, “The right to be left alone—the most comprehensive of rights, and the right most valued by a free people.” Every American deserves to live their lives without big brother, whether it involves the scanning of license plates or otherwise.

Anthony, a longtime cannabis law reform advocate, was Chief Petitioner and co-author of Measure 91, Oregon's cannabis legalization effort. He served as director of both the New Approach Oregon and Vote Yes on 91 PACs, the political action committees responsible for the state's legalization campaign. As director of New Approach Oregon, Anthony continues to work towards effectively implementing the cannabis legalization system while protecting small business owners and the rights of patients. He sits on the Oregon Marijuana Rules Advisory Committee and fights for sensible rules at the legislature as well as city councils and county commissions across the state. Anthony helps cannabis business comply with Oregon's laws and advises advocates across the country. He also serves as content director of both the International Cannabis Business Conference and the Oregon Marijuana Business Conference, helping share the vision of moving the cannabis industry forward in a way that maintains the focus on keeping people out of prison and protecting patients. He was a member of the Oregon Health Authority Rules Advisory Committee, assisting the drafting of the administrative rules governing Oregon’s state-licensed medical marijuana facilities. He first co-authored and helped pass successful marijuana law reform measures while a law student at the University of Missouri-Columbia School of Law. He passed the Oregon Bar in 2005 and practiced criminal defense for two years before transitioning to working full-time in the political advocacy realm. His blogs on Marijuana Politics are personal in nature and don't speak for or reflect the opinions of any group or organization.