Every day, the power of the police (and their federal financiers) to track the movements of every American expands.
The latest loss of liberty involves the ability of license plate tracking software to recognize the faces of individual travelers in target vehicles.
A company called ElsaAG North America (a division of Finmeccanica, an Italian defense, aerospace, and security conglomerate) has developed automatic license plate readers (ALPR) and is aggressively marketing its high-tech trackers to U.S. law enforcement. Vigilant Solutions, another ALPR manufacturer, boasts of being a “trusted provider to tens of thousands of law enforcement professionals.” The Vigilant database reportedly “contains 2 billion entries,” with “70
million additional license plate photographs being added each month.”
Lest anyone doubt the scope and power of these tracking technologies, consider the following description of one of Vigilant’s latest products, the Mobile Companion:
Vigilant Solutions’ Mobile Companion is an industry-exclusive mobile app delivering the benefits of Vigilant’s Intelligence-Led Policing Package (including license plate recognition (LPR) and facial recognition technologies) to your mobile device.
The Mobile Companion is available to every officer with a mobile device and proper user permissions, as set by an Agency Manager. With the Mobile Companion, officers are now able to scan license plates, match against agency hotlists, query historical data, use the exclusive Mobile Hit Hunter feature to locate nearby hits generated by the Vigilant LPR network, and verify identities in the field using facial recognition. [Emphasis added.]
Simplicity is the selling point of this technology, according to information provided by Vigilant on its website.
“Plate capture is simple,” they boast.
“Mobile Companion’s interface is incredibly intuitive,” they claim.
Facial Recognition is made incredibly simple and convenient on the Mobile Companion. Simply take a picture, or upload an image from a file or from social media, and match against the available gallery. Vigilant prepopulates the gallery with mugshot data, CrimeStopper data, and registered sex offender data. Agency Managers may upload additional images into their gallery (using the web interface) for better matching against local known individuals.
For your sake, I hope you don’t drive anywhere that suspected criminals frequent, because Vigilant’s Mobile Companion app empowers police to “query for possible associates of known criminals with just a few clicks of the mouse based on license plates frequently seen in close proximity to the subject.”
The Vigilant-developed facial recognition software supporting the expanded capabilities of the license plate trackers is known as FaceSearch. In order to lure new law enforcement customers, the power of the product is proudly proclaimed:
FaceSearch is an easy-to-use facial recognition solution that works. Available via the web, on mobile devices, and as a PC-based application, FaceSearch was developed by Vigilant to deliver a functional, scalable and affordable solution like no other. Hosted in the cloud, FaceSearch offers easy importing and integration capabilities, along with pre-populated face image data from Vigilant.
Over 350 facial vectoring algorithms are at the heart of Vigilant Solutions’ FaceSearch. Rather than making use of commercially available facial recognition engines, Vigilant leveraged its experience in image recognition to develop these new facial vectoring algorithms in-house. Why? — to benefit you in terms of accuracy, speed, and flexibility in deployment.