Bay Area residents are reminded that the National Security Administration that is not the only organization that is collecting data. Law enforcement agencies throughout the area, including the Gilroy Police Department, have increased their use of Big Data technologies.
This includes but not limited to automatic license plate scanners. This data is scanned and collected on individuals regardless as to whether they are suspects in an ongoing investigation. All of this information is being stored and analyzed at an area fusion center. This center is located at a San Francisco Federal Building.
Gilroy Police Department officials have said that everything from your credit report, driving record, car rentals and other data is being sorted and filed. There are a total of 77 of these types of centers that are peppered throughout the United States. It is unclear exactly how much data is being collected and/or how it is being used.
Law enforcement representatives have said the primary focus is preventing future terror attacks. Others have confirmed it is being used to solve local crimes.
Higher ups within the Gilroy Police Department have said that law abiding citizens do not need to be concerned. They said they are simply using technology to do today what the eyes and ears of officers have done in years past. Technology simply allows them to be more efficient. Efficiency is needed in light of recent and ongoing budget cuts.
Center representatives have maintained they are not running a rampant spy center.
A spokesperson for the program said these centers have helped capture individuals who have threatened to bomb planes. They have also been able to thwart kidnapping attempts before they have taken place. One local chief of police has credited the use of license plate scanners at the town’s entrances and exits to a drop in property crime.
The cameras are well marked, he said, and this is a great deterrent for criminals. Other local law enforcement agencies have taken notice and are following suit.
Not everyone feels this is a good idea. The American Civil Liberties Union is concerned that this data could be abused. They also point out that video surveillance cameras are virtually everywhere these days. They are installed at ATM machines and are installed in a number of public areas. The Gilroy Police Department has confirmed they picked up half the tab for a six-camera instillation in the city’s downtown area.
The bottom line, according to data collection opponents, is that Big Brother is always watching.