It turns out 'big brother' is watching you after all.

NJ Turnpike
Flickr user Dougtone

A new American Civil Liberties Union report finds a rapidly growing network of police cameras is capturing, storing and sharing data on license plates, making it possible to stitch together people's movements whether they are stuck in a commute, making tracks to the beach or involved in some kind of criminal activity.

Authorities say collecting data in this way gives them a better opportunity to catch crooks and stop would-be terrorists, but not everybody is comfortable with it.

"This type of snooping and data-keeping on innocent people is often portrayed as a way to fight off a possible dangerous event or terrorist event, but I think it does threaten the rights of some individuals, and sadly the people who speak up against these things are viewed as not being cooperative," says Rutgers sociology professor Dr. Deborah Carr.

She says being under constant surveillance, "Is a feeling that is at odds with the ethos of being an American because in many ways we're promised a life of anonymity and confidentiality, but that's turning out to not be the case."

"It's an issue of our civil liberties being kind of railroaded over," she says. "I think there's this issue of people not knowing- that's the problem - there's no ability to give informed consent."

Dr. Carr points out holding on to this kind of data for months and years can open up a Pandora's box of possible problems, including false reports and information that could be used to falsely imprison a person, so it's very important for authorities to explain why keeping this data is important.

"On the one hand, we do need to preserve safety and be aware of terrorist threats," she says, "yet at the same time we need to balance that out with individual rights."

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