The Surveillance State Just Got a Lot Bigger in Rhode Island

By Josie Wales

A Rhode Island House committee voted to move forward with expanding the surveillance in the state on Tuesday when it approved H5531, otherwise known as the “Rhode Island Electronic Confirmation and Compliance System Act.” The new legislation, which passed the House Corporations Committee by a vote of seven to two, allows for the statewide use of automated license plate readers (APLR’s) to fine uninsured motorists.

Revenue generated by the dragnet will be split evenly between the state and private camera company and would generate around $15 million annually.

Rep. Robert Jacquard, the bill’s sponsor, says the surveillance system will operate mostly on major highways, targeting uninsured motorists from out of state. Jacquard claims to have addressed the concerns of the bill’s critics by limiting the cost of citation fines to $120, prohibiting cameras from being installed on moving objects, and preventing the system from being used to collect tolls.

Many remain opposed to the measure, however, due to privacy and efficacy concerns. According to the language of the bill:

An automatic license plate recognition system to electronically capture license plate images in two (2) seconds or less and noninvasively attempt verification of the insurance and when possible, the registration status of the interstate vehicle. If the vehicle is covered under an automobile insurance policy or properly registered or there is no conclusive proof of noncompliance as determined by a law enforcement officer, the automatic license plate recognition system shall erase the record of the vehicle’s license plate within one minute.

This means the system will need access to databases in every state in order to verify vehicle registration and insurance status. This poses both constitutional and technical problems, according to Frank O’Brien, vice president of state government relations for the Property Casualty Insurers Association of America, which testified against the bill this year. “It’s really difficult to see how the information exchange would work,” O’Brien told the Providence Journal. He also said the new system would only complicate a recent law passed by Rhode Island lawmakers intended to catch uninsured motorists. That law is already working well and includes frequent reporting of policy lapses.

The ACLU of Rhode Island also testified against the legislation, highlighting that it benefits the private corporation owning the cameras. They noted that “it is inappropriate for a private company to receive half of the revenues gained from insurance penalties, as it provides an incentive to encourage penalties instead of minimizing their occurrence.”

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1 Comment on "The Surveillance State Just Got a Lot Bigger in Rhode Island"

  1. Mahatma Muhjesbude | June 24, 2017 at 10:39 am | Reply

    Yu[, first it was primitive Red light intersection cameras filling their greedy coffers, And now it will be using LP readers and other anti-4/A privacy intrusion to integrate with all sorts of little nickel and diming of the poor to get them to ‘cough up’ what they ‘owe’ and absolutely MUST PAY above everything else to the obsessively avaricious government and it’s sycophant big business cohorts to suck all the blood money they can from the masses. Dob’t these cognitively challenged people in Rhode I have any clue of where all this Citizen spying and monitoring is going?

    Wait until they get the Patriot Radar (it’s already a stock company) public frisk at distance cameras up and running in every major city! They’ll be doing body scan searches of everyone and anyone walking past one of these in a public area.

    And don’t insult what left you have of your own intelligence by saying something pitifully stupid like “if you’re not doing anything wrong, what do you have to worry about?” These scanners aren’t just looking for weapons, they can detect drugs and other ‘illegal’ things that so many people carry around.

    Because at this wonderful point in the rise of American Totalitarianism, it so happens that virtually every one of us commits some kind of crime/offense, including felonies at least once a week. You heard that right. Check out the book by Rutherford Institute Constitutional Attorney John W. Whitehead’s book “Battlefield America’ The (police state) War on the American People’ Where it goes into depth about the super abundance of laws on the books, not even including traffic laws, that cover virtually any and every human behavior you engage in the moment you step out your door, and soon to expand deeply into the privacy of your own bedroom…and then into the last sanctity of freedom…your own mind. (with facial recognition and FACIAL ANALYSIS to determine your potential to do anything that might be…um questionable against the government…er, I mean ‘law’.

    The very dark clouds are looming on the horizon in full view, people. Don’t look down and away

    We don’t flip this totalitarian flapjack out of the pan and turn off the heat by taking back ‘We, the People’ control over our government as required by the Constitution by repealing all these laws and privacy intrusion tactics, Hope your new set of social ball and chains will be comfortable for you while you watch cartoons.

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