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DEA and ATF Team Up to Monitor Phoenix Area Gun Shows, Says ACLU

According to the ACLU, the DEA and ATF were conspiring to use license plate readers at gun shows. Presumably all this was because, war on drugs, and because, terrorism or something like that. You have to wonder with as pervasive as the surveillance state is becoming, with technology enabling it to ever greater heights, how long we have until there’s de facto registration even without the government even needing to resort to 4473s. Just watch a gun range for a while via drone or satellite, and just start compiling a list. Soon you won’t even need people to do this. You won’t even need to specifically focus the camera on the gun range. It’ll all be done algorithmically by computers, compiling tons and tons of data to be called up and analyzed any time the powers that be want to scrutinize someone.

The scary part is, I don’t know if there’s a good way to stop it. The chest pounders among us would perhaps suggest such a state deserves “Second Amendment remedies,” and it’s hard to argue that such a persuasive surveillance state has any legitimacy. But the technology will be there. Would you trust anyone with it?

14 Responses to “DEA and ATF Team Up to Monitor Phoenix Area Gun Shows, Says ACLU”

  1. fknauss says:

    It is probably much simpler, and more reliable, for them to subpoena the information from Google and Apple.

    (https://maps.google.com/locationhistory/ for those of you with android phones…)

    The government is not the one doing the surveillance.

    • MattW says:

      Correction, the government is not the ONLY one doing the surveillance. With all the tax money we pay into the .gov, you are correct in that they actually prefer to use someone else’s hardware and labor.

      And yes, always turn location history off. Not that I trust my location is no longer logged – but it makes me feel warm and fuzzy…

  2. asdf says:

    Yeah Google has WAAAAAAAAY too much information on everybody. I wish there were some other service that were as convenient and reliable but my whole life runs on Google and switching to a paid service would probably disrupt my life as countless accounts are tied to my gmail/google account.

    I thought that Chrome was a pretty good browser until I realized that the browser is tied to your Google account EVEN WHEN YOU SIGN OUT ON THE GOOGLE HOME PAGE! Everything you do is logged by them as long as the browser is open, no matter if you’re signed in or not. And hell no, I don’t trust those flimsy “privacy policies”.

    I thought Firefox was more or less safe until I installed Ghostery and realized how many trackers there are on the internet that can uniquely identify you. There are seven on this page alone.

    And I don’t really understand how UDID (unique device identifiers) work, but somehow “they” know exactly which device is used to connect to the internet and there doesn’t seem to be any easy way to hide that.

    There really is nowhere left to hide. Everywhere we’ve been and Even our most secret inner thoughts are logged somewhere in the form of location data and internet search logs tied to UDID and/or IP Addresses. Once your name comes up in a Google search, you’re pretty much stuck there forever.

    BTW, has anybody seen Black Mirror? I highly recommend it!

    • MattW says:

      I had never heard of it but now I’ll have to try to check it out!

      And you can hide UDIDs and IP Addresses etc… but its not easy for the average user.

  3. Ish says:

    To play devil’s advocate: do you really have any expectation of privacy in the parking lot of a large semi-public venue like the exhibit halls that gun shows are typically held in? Officer Krupke could easily walk up and down the parking lot aisles with a pencil and notebook.

    The issue isn’t the technology used to gather this information, the issue is the “law enforcement” culture that has our government thinking that such information is worth gathering in the first place.

    • Sebastian says:

      It’s a good point. But it would take quite a lot of work to do it the old fashioned way. With the right technology, a quick drive through the parking lot and you could have everyone at the show in minutes. Do that enough you have quite a database you can mine.

      • Ish says:

        Continuing my advocacy for Beelzebub, couldn’t you say the same thing about every new technological tool that the state uses for police work? Fingerprinting, DNA analysis, radar guns, traffic cameras, and so on and so forth. I’m as paranoid about my privacy rights as the next wookie-suited neckbeard, but we are talking about cars in a publicly accessible parking lot.

        • Sebastian says:

          Because of that, I would argue that it’s unconstitutional. But how much data collection, even in public, of citizens is acceptable before privacy as we know it ceases to exist? Someone who follows you around all the time will know quite a lot about you. How long before you can be followed around without anyone actually doing the following?

          • Ish says:

            Which is why I don’t see the technology as the problem, but the mentality of government agents thinking that this sort of monitoring is necessary and acceptable. Blame the actor for the bad act, not the tool used to carry it out: that’s a mantra our side should extend to more than just firearms.

      • Jake says:

        Both good points, but Sebastian nails it. At our local gun show – which is not one of the biggest ones – one officer writing down every license plate in the parking lot would take several hours, if not all day. In that time, he would miss many, many people who either leave before he gets to their section or new arrivals who park in opened spots in areas he’s already done.

        With the automatic license plate readers that are springing up in departments all over the country, one officer can simply cruise through the parking lot in just a few minutes, recording every single license plate there, and he can do that several times a day so that very few are missed. As a bonus, this is much less obvious than walking around writing down numbers, and can easily look like part of a routine patrol.

  4. SPQR says:

    Another scandal is that with real organized crime smuggling drugs into our country, the DEA and ATF want to avoid investigating them and go do something safer like investigate gun shows.

  5. Brad says:

    Great, the Phoenix ATF office. The same folks who brought us operation Fast and Furious!

  6. Chris from AK says:

    Sounds like a good argument for eliminating vehicle registration.

    Registration = confiscation! ;)

    A lot of registration strategies imposed in the past didn’t really envision the role that Big Data would play. I would think that if you balance the civil liberties intrusion against the benefit to the government, that balance can change over time depending on how the policy interacts with technology.

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