J. D. Heyes
June 30, 2013
The road to hell is paved with good intentions, and that appears to apply to a new program which plans to force drivers to begin using electronic updatable license plates so police will be able to tell whether the vehicle – or the driver associated with the vehicle – is wanted for any alleged criminal activity.
The problem with this crime-fighting solution, however, is that the program, if it is implemented, will mean that authorities will have yet one more tool to track your every move, once again in violation of the fast-diminishing Fourth Amendment.
According to tech website PopSci:
A small company in South Carolina is attempting to introduce electronic license plates for the state’s cars and trucks. The plates are fairly simple: An electrophoretic display that can display certain bold words when necessary, like “STOLEN” or “UNINSURED.”
The site reported that electrophoretic displays are often referred to as “e-ink” (though E Ink is the actual name of a notable company that produces electrophoretic displays “and is not particularly fond of becoming the next Kleenex or Xerox,” PopSci noted).
Sure, electronic license plates might be cool and handy, but…
The displays are also referred to as e-paper sometimes, since they are utilized in e-book readers like Amazon’s Kindle and Barnes & Noble’s Nook. Right now the displays are black and white only, and have slow refresh rates. But they are very lower power consumption and the resolution is decent, says the tech site.
The displays are also being advertised as handy. Since they are displays – not hard metal, number-stamped objects – they can be changed. That would save a state money by not having to manufacture and re-issue license plates  for any number of reasons (such as when a driver switches from a car to a truck, or vice versa). Renewing them would also be much more efficient, and they could even serve in a public service role:
The benefits of an electronic license  plate are interesting. Theoretically, you’d never need to actually visit a DMV to get a new plate–you could fill out the paperwork online, and presto, your license plate number is now changed. And, if a driver is doing something wrong, something other drivers should know about, the DMV can beam a sort of scarlet letter message to the license plate over an included wireless connection, like your smartphone has.
The Digital Age has been no friend of privacy
But the overarching concern among Americans who are learning more and more each day that their government has committed long-term, serial violations of the Constitution should be that, without question, the Nanny State will use these plates as yet another means of tracking your every move – even though you have done nothing wrong and have no plans to do anything wrong.
Until the dawn of the Digital Age, American legal thought revolved around the principle that the accused is innocent of a crime until proven guilty in a court of law. But technology has been hijacked by statists and would-be tyrants who worship at the altar of Big Government and who increasingly misuse technology in a way that presumes all of us are guilty – of something, sometime, so it’s okay that we are constantly monitored, watched, and surveyed.
That is as much a bastardization of the rule of law by those we entrust to uphold it as it is a betrayal of our founding principles. What’s worse, the attitude of the ruling class assumes that those of us who are being “ruled” don’t have a right to object to any method of governance, if done on our behalf, and even if we did, that we are powerless to do much about it.
The Digital Age has done more to undermine our founding principles than any other technological development in our history.
Sources for this article include: