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Report – vast hidden surveillance network runs across America, powered by the repo industry

Follow up to previous postings on license plate collection programs – see Shawn Musgrave’s article [editor of MuckRock via BetaBoston]: “Today, a legislative committee in Boston is scheduled to hold a hearing on a bill that would ban most uses of license plate readers, including the vehicle repossession business, making exceptions only for law enforcement, toll collection, and parking regulation. “We have technology rapidly moving ahead in terms of its ability to gather information about people,” said state Representative Jonathan Hecht, a Watertown Democrat who filed the bill along with state Senator Cynthia Creem of Newton, Brookline and Wellesley. “We need to have a conversation about how to balance ­legitimate uses of this technology with protecting people’s ­legitimate expectation of privacy.” But Digital Recognition and other so-called “data brokers” who collect plate scans are fighting Hecht and Creem’s bill, arguing that repo agents are not invading privacy when they scan a ­license plate, which is available for all to see. The data brokers do not disclose the owner of the plates, they point out, though customers such as banks, insurers, and private investigators have ready access to that information. Brian Shockley — vice president of marketing at Vigilant, corporate parent of Digital Recognition — plans to warn legislators that Massachusetts risks getting left behind in the use of a new tool that helps fight crime.”

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