Advanced AI Monitors Countless Vehicles, Alerting Law Enforcement to Reckless Driving

**Artificial Intelligence in Policing: Uncovering Constitutional Issues**

**Case Study: David Zayas and AI-powered Policing**

In March of 2022, David Zayas was driving down the Hutchinson River Parkway in Scarsdale, New York when he was pulled over by the Westchester County Police Department. The reason behind this stop and subsequent search of Zayas’ vehicle was the department’s new AI tool that flagged his car as exhibiting suspicious behavior. The AI had analyzed Zayas’ driving patterns by searching through a database of 1.6 billion license plate records collected over the past two years. The system determined that Zayas’ car had followed routes often used by drug traffickers and made consistently short stops. The search of his car led to the discovery of crack cocaine, a semiautomatic pistol, and $34,000 in cash. Zayas pleaded guilty to a drug trafficking charge a year later.

**The Constitutional Implications of AI-powered Policing**

This case brings to light the evolution of AI-powered policing and the constitutional issues that arise with its implementation. Typically, Automatic License Plate Recognition (ALPR) technology is used to search for license plates linked to specific crimes. However, in Zayas’ case, the technology was employed to examine the driving patterns of anyone passing through the area covered by Westchester County’s 480 cameras in a two-year period. Zayas’ lawyer, Ben Gold, argued that the AI-driven analysis of every vehicle captured by the cameras amounted to an “unprecedented search.” He contended that this type of surveillance violated citizens’ reasonable expectation of privacy and highlighted the lack of judicial oversight.

**Rekor and the Proliferation of AI-powered Policing**

Westchester PD’s license plate surveillance system was built by Rekor, an AI company with a market capitalization of $125 million, traded on NASDAQ. Rekor has sold its ALPR technology to at least 23 police departments and local governments across the United States. Rekor’s software can be installed in existing cameras without the need for new equipment. It also runs the Rekor Public Safety Network, which aggregates vehicle location data from customers who opt-in to the project. This centralized database, with its cross-state data sharing, has raised concerns among civil rights activists, especially in light of instances where license plate reader data has been shared with states that have prohibited certain activities.

**Privacy Concerns and the Growth of AI-powered Surveillance**

With Rekor and its competitors expanding their reach across federal and state governments, the ALPR market is predicted to be worth at least $2.5 billion. Companies like Flock, Motorola, Genetec, and Jenoptik are vying for a share of the market. While this growth presents potential profit opportunities, it also raises significant privacy concerns. The expanding use of AI-powered surveillance has sparked alarm among privacy advocates, who note the lack of legal protections for individuals. The massive scale of surveillance through ALPR and the advent of advanced AI technologies has the potential to infringe upon citizens’ rights and invade their privacy.

**Beyond Law Enforcement: AI-powered Surveillance in Retail and Fast Food**

Seeking profitability, the market is now exploring applications beyond law enforcement. Retail and fast food industries, such as McDonald’s and White Castle, have begun using ALPR to personalize drive-through experiences. By detecting returning customers and utilizing past orders, these establishments can guide customers through the ordering process or offer individualized promotional offers. Rekor’s technology is involved in this context through its partnership with Mastercard. As AI-powered surveillance continues to expand, it is becoming increasingly challenging to evade the watchful eyes of government and corporate surveillance, while also remaining unaware of their presence.

**The Inescapable Nature of AI Surveillance**

Given the extensive nature of the ALPR network and the necessity of using public highways in modern life, avoiding surveillance through ALPR seems unfeasible if not impossible. Individuals may find it challenging to ascertain the locations of cameras and, ultimately, have limited control over their privacy.

In conclusion, the case of David Zayas and the use of AI-powered policing highlights the constitutional issues that arise with the implementation of such technologies. The proliferation of AI-driven surveillance, spearheaded by companies like Rekor, has raised concerns among privacy advocates regarding the lack of legal protections for individuals. As AI-powered surveillance expands beyond law enforcement and into various industries, it becomes increasingly difficult to evade the omnipresence of government and corporate surveillance. The need for a balance between public safety and individual privacy is crucial as society navigates the growing impact of artificial intelligence on policing and surveillance practices.

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