A dozen cameras have been placed around our great monument to consumerism, the Mall of America, and over the last 3 months, they've managed to scan 2,275,357 license plates. Big Brother knows that you've got a serious Hotdog On A Stick problem.
Of the 2+ million scanned plates, 12,216 were described as "hits" according to documents obtained from the Bloomington, Minnesota police department. That means the license plate is associated with someone that's suspected of committing a crime, although this latest round of scans haven't reportedly led to any arrests. At least not yet.
The Automated License Plate Readers (ALPR) don't collect owner information, like names and addresses, but instead just focus on the plate itself to identify people suspected of crimes. But that hasn't stopped drivers or their elected representatives from taking issue with the mass surveillance.
"If you're innocent and there's no cause to be under surveillance, then you ought not be under surveillance," says State Senator Branden Peterson, a member of Minnesota's Legislative Commission on Data Practices. "The burden really is on the state to have a compelling reason to collect information on innocent people. It's not the other way around."
The Mall of America says that it doesn't have access to the information, which is collected by the local police department. Bloomington Police said in a statement that:
The Bloomington Police Department has installed and is using automated license plate readers at Mall of America. This is part of a comprehensive safety plan for mall visitors, employees and tenants. Bloomington Police are limited to using the data from these readers for safety, security and traffic management purposes. Mall of America does not have access to data relating to the registration or ownership of these vehicles.
The PD also claims that information is purged from the system after 90 days, although other cities around the country can hold onto the data up to one, two, or even five years, while cities in Texas and New York hold it indefinitely.