I don’t know how many of you remember reading about Arlington’s implementation of OCR cameras last spring to help them catch drivers with unpaid parking tickets and property taxes.
I was sort of uncomfortable with it at the time, but can’t tell if it’s really my libertarian principles that are bothered or if it’s just that I know how bad I am with things like property tax paperwork. I mean, is it really and unreasonable search to read your plate number when your car is parked on a public street just because they use a camera and a computer instead of a human and a phone to do it?
But a line is being crossed: This month, the county began using the cameras to find, and possibly tow, your vehicle for everything from unpaid parks and recreation fees to overdue library books.
I’ve got to leave for work in a minute, so I don’t quite have time to go into the several levels of invective I’ve got reserved for county officials who think the theft a person’s source of transportation is an appropriate response to forgetful people who don’t return library books. I don’t have time to talk about what a monumentally stupid thing it is to deter people from the use of public libraries by threatening the family car should they slip up and lose a book.
But I do have time to point out the danger of giving this technology to a bureaucracy so inefficient and forgetful that they are still trying to tax me for a car that I sold over a year ago- No doubt, the tag number from my old car will be in their database of offenders, seeing as how they have threatened to put a lien on it. Good luck finding it, guys- the dealer where I traded it in sold it at auction. It’s probably halfway to Nebraska by now.
And this is but the smallest of previews of my rage should the situation in Arlington County reach the level of that in New Haven, CT, where people’s cars are being stolen from private driveways over tax bills as low as $85.
Have any of you fallen victim to the roving eye of Big Brother Arlington?
This post appeared in its original form at DC Metblogs