Thursday, July 18, 2013

On Any Given Day-- Police are Photographing Your Car

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KOMO News: "Chances are, your local or state police departments have photographs of your car in their files, noting where you were driving on a particular day, even if you never did anything wrong."

Does this make you feel uncomfortable? Or is it just another freedom or liberty slipping away in the name of safety and security?

Here are the details and some things to think about.

The AP-KOMO article yesterday says law enforcement agencies across the country have amassed millions of digital records on the location and movement of every vehicle with a license plate.

Every vehicle.

Apparently it doesn't matter whether the vehicle is parked or moving.

"As technology becomes cheaper and more ubiquitous," the article says, "even small police agencies are able to deploy more sophisticated surveillance systems."

Cameras are now placed on buildings, traffic lights, bridges, police cars and hundreds of other places.

They're everywhere.

The Supreme Court has ruled that police agencies must get a judge's approval to track a car with GPS, however these plate scanning cameras are not GPS and do not fall under that ruling.

The case, of course, is made that this will keep us more safe and aid the authorities in catching the bad guys.

Authorities say, "These plate readers are not intended nor used to follow the movements of members of the public."

But they could be used for that. And sometimes good intentions are lost in translation.

The article says some agencies are keeping the information for several years.

And some would say, "I'm not doing anything wrong, I don't care if they track me."

Most of us are not doing something wrong, but do we really feel comfortable with the government recording our moves?

When I read this story, I thought of Benjamin Franklin's words:

"Those who would give up essential liberty to purchase a little temporary safety, deserve neither liberty nor safety." (1775)

It's interesting that Franklin is suggesting any trade-off between liberty and security is illegitimate.

Whether you agree or disagree with the Patriot Act, we are all learning that even more important than policy, is who we elect to execute those policies.

Elections really do have consequences.

We must choose trustworthy leaders. Ultimately we can't write enough policy and laws to cover every risk.

It becomes clear when we take a closer look at Franklin's statement and the context in which he is making it, that there is, by necessity, risk involved in making policy that protects liberty and ensures safety.

Sound policy is essential.

But it seems the greater risk is in the trustworthiness of our leaders.

If our leaders are merely activists, using their powerful office to advance their personal social agenda, risk is realized.

I personally believe that's the case in the present administration.

We must continue to work to limit government. But we can't forbid all policy because there is risk.

The greater risk is in our leadership choices. And in our citizenry as well.

John Adams knew there were risks. He and the other Founders knew how very fragile this new nation under God and its Constitution really was.

Adams told us, "Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people, and is wholly inadequate for the government of any other."

Sobering thought.

He was describing the risk---even with limited government and the power in the hands of the people. He was reminding us that trust and virtue trumps policy and politicians.

But he was not suggesting that we abandon our pursuit of happiness and liberty because there is risk.

I would not have wanted my daughters to date a serial killer or some con man, but I didn't forbid them to date because there is risk.

Nor should we grow weary in the pursuit of liberty and justice for all.

But we must remember that freedom is fragile and liberty must be refreshed from time to time. And we as a nation must remember that the foundation of our freedom, liberty and prosperity is found, in the words of Adams,---a religious and moral people.

To the degree we move away from our Christian roots, we will, in a corresponding way, move away from our liberty.

Our Constitution, as well as our policies, are ultimately "inadequate" for a non Christian, secular society. The Founders knew it and we must not forget it.

Cultural and social renewal can, and I believe will, come, but only when it is preceded by spiritual renewal.

Safety and security are ultimately only found in God, our Creator and His eternal principles.

Be Prayerful. Be Hopeful. Be Not Afraid. Be Vigilant. Be Free. Be Blessed.