Do you think such a thing could be implemented without any public consultation or corporate media attention? It exists. About 6 months ago at an Ideas Victoria meeting, Kevin S McArthur brought up the fact Victoria Police were using cameras on some of their police cars, called Automatic Licence Plate Recognition, or ALPR. As Chris Parsons and myself were in attendance, no strangers to privacy issues in Canada, we immediately had a list of questions about such a system. Who was running it (later to find out the RCMP)? How wide spread was it? Where was the data sent and/or stored? Who had access to it? What type of information was stored? How was it claimed to be used, how could it be used?
Rob Wipond was also in attendance, one of Victoria’s last freelance journalists, and one of few I know who do investigative journalism… researching stories with more than a one day turn around for a quick hit. He was also very interested, and agreed to initiate the research by submitting some freedom of information (FOI) requests.
This story takes many bizarre twists and turns, including lies, misinformation and misunderstandings by everyone involved in this system. My thanks to the folks at FOCUS Online for supporting such research. This is the type of story that should be national, but none-the-less I’m proud a “little magazine from Victoria” can be responsible for disclosing such an important breach of our civil liberties.
You can read the entire article called Hidden Surveillance in the February 2012 issue of FOCUS, which is on newsstands now.
If the story interests you, Rob went a step further and published all of the documents he received from his FOI and Federal Access to Information requests!
Disclosure: I did not participate in most of the research, only in the initial planning stages, due to potential conflict of interest with my role on the Privacy and Access committee of the BC Civil Liberties Association and other committments.