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Biometrics and Drivers' Licenses - Updated November 10, 2016

There's been a lot of talk lately about biometric features of the newer drivers licenses. The fear is that we'll end up with a drivers license system the government can use to track our every move and every transaction. Most Americans view these new techniques with a combination of dread fear and outright horror.

Imagine a new surveillance system that's hooked up to a vast range of new computer databases. A video camera atop a tall pole detects your car’s movement as you back out of your driveway, which triggers it to zoom in and do a look-up on your license plate.

The plate number is run through the DMV records and your entire DMV record suddenly flashes up on the monitor screen. The computer behind the cameras instantly creates a “trip file” which will contain many details on your journey.

As you leave the first camera’s area, the computer prompts another camera to pick you up and maintain a continuous long-term record of your travels.

When you park your car across the street from a store the camera there watches as you leave your car and stroll across the street. If you stop to chat with a friend, that fact is also recorded along with your friend’s identity.

You then enter the store and make a purchase. Of course the details of your purchase are recorded in your trip file. As you walk back to your car where you walk is carefully recorded and analyzed. Should you do anything but walk directly to your car, the monitoring computer may label your activity as “suspicious” and contact the local police to send a car to check you out.

Sound like some wild science fiction fantasy from the far distant future? Think again! The first such system is already up and running in several cities in England. Here in the US we're not quite so comfortable with a gross invasion of our personal privacy so we’re going to “go slow” on the use of such invasive technology.

In England the government there loves their new system. They claim it’s cut crime in the most heavily monitored areas by more than half. But what they're not mentioning is that what has really happened is that crime has moved from the monitored areas to the unmonitored areas where crime is exploding. That's a good deal for the richer people who live in the monitored areas but a very bad deal for the working class people who are forced to live in unmonitored zones.

Privacy groups and the ACLU have pressured the federal government to restrict such "big brother" systems so hopefully this technology will stay where it belongs - on the other side of the pond.

So what’s the state of the art in monitoring technologies? By combining several different technologies the police now have several units that can provide a level of intrusion that is truly mind-boggling.

The police officer sits in the passenger seat of a standard police car while his partner drives. In his lap is a powerful laptop computer with a large display. As he drives past your house he points a large black gun-like device at the front of your house.

An image pops up on the screen. It’s a razor sharp image of the inside of your house. It can watch you as you move around your house. With this breakthrough technology they can determine if you’re committing illegal acts. They can also watch as you have sex. They can also watch as your daughter undresses and takes a shower! 

Not only can they watch you inside your home, they have a system in development that can actually identify you using facial recognition technology (FRT). With this new technology they’ll be able to determine not only how many people are in your home but be able to them by their facial traits!

Afraid? If you're not - you're not paying attention. 

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