Archive for the ‘Big Brother’ Category


Illinois residents who have appeared in a photograph on the Google Photos app within the last seven years may be eligible to receive a portion of a $100 million settlement.

A lawsuit alleged Google’s face grouping tool, which sorts faces in the app by similarity, is in violation of Illinois’ Biometric Information Privacy Act, or BIPA. The law, enacted in 2008, requires companies to get user consent for the use of such technologies.

Ed Yohnka, director of communications and public policy with the ACLU of Illinois, said the state has one of the most stringent biometric privacy laws in the country.

“The use of biometric information has expanded across the world,” said Yohnka. “Illinois has been a place that has really protected the privacy of individuals who live here.”

Google did not admit to any wrongdoing as part of the settlement, which resolves a group of lawsuits filed by five plaintiffs.

If a final order is approved in the case, Illinoisans who appeared in a photograph in Google Photos between May 1, 2015, and the date of the settlement’s preliminary approval would be able to take part in the deal.

A Google spokesperson said Google Photos users in Illinois will be prompted to provide opt-in consent to face grouping in the coming weeks, and will expand nationwide soon after.

More here.

Related: “As Facebook deletes more than a billion users’ face templates, Illinoisans still waiting on payout

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Two bills on Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s desk would spend $20 million to add license plate monitoring cameras to 6,600 miles of highways in 22 counties. Civil rights groups fret about abuse. Illinois State Police can’t say they increase safety.

Two bills on Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s desk could expand Illinois highway camera monitoring program to cover 6,600 more miles of road across 22 counties as the General Assembly looks to crack down on expressway crime before November elections.

House Bill 260 and House Bill 448 – passed alongside 80 other proposals in the final day of the legislative session – would see the governor expand a license plate monitoring pilot program from Cook County to the rest of Illinois with $20 million in new funding.

The measure would add hundreds of new cameras while increasing the number of crimes the cameras can be used to investigate and number of parties who can prosecute them.

While lawmakers argue the bills could assist in the investigation and prosecution of crimes committed on state expressways, the Illinois State Police note they have been unable to quantify the number of crimes solved by the cameras during the Cook County pilot program.

Civil liberty groups opposed to the devices said there is a lack of transparency that leaves the program ripe for abuse. There is no information on how cameras are placed, there is a ban on drivers reviewing footage when charged with violations and there are requirements for law enforcement to delete video 120 days after recording – essentially destroying the evidence.

ISP spokesman Melaney Arnold said the agency would finalize and share camera locations only after the bill was signed into law. The new legislation notably excludes explicit guidance on which roadways would receive the additional monitoring.

More here.

Related:Highway camera expansion covering 6,600 miles of road in 22 counties awaits Pritzker’s signature

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Barrington Road
A pair of bills on Gov. JB Pritzker’s desk would expand a state roadway camera monitoring program to 21 additional counties while also expanding the number of crimes the cameras can be used to investigate and the number of parties that can prosecute them.

The measures – House Bill 260 and House Bill 4481 – were among 80 bills that cleared the General Assembly in the final 24-hour stretch of a legislative session in which Democrats looked to bolster their voting records on crime.

They expand a pilot program that directs the Illinois Department of Transportation, the Illinois State Police and the Illinois Toll Highway Authority to increase the number of cameras on state roads through funding from the state’s Road Fund. The underlying program was launched in 2020 in response to expressway shootings. ISP has recorded 580 such shootings since 2019, including 72 this year.

In February, Pritzker appeared alongside ISP Director Brendan Kelly to publicize more than 20 arrests related to expressway crime due to an increased law enforcement focus. But Melaney Arnold, an ISP spokesperson, said this week the department was unable to quantify the number of crimes solved by expressway cameras due to the number of open investigations and pending charges.

“Since installation of (automatic license plate readers) in the Chicago area, our investigators in Cook County have used ALPRs, in addition to other information and evidence, as part of every investigation,” she said in an email.

The bills received the backing of ISP, the state’s attorney general and broad majorities in the legislature.

But civil liberties advocates and lawmakers from each party aired concerns about potential misuse of the cameras, a lack of clarity regarding how camera placements will be chosen, and that an individual would be prohibited from accessing their own camera footage via the Freedom of Information Act.

Read more here.

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The Illinois House approved a law calling for the installation of license plate reading cameras. Big Brother just wants to solve crime.

A new measure passed in the Illinois House would have cameras with license plate scanning abilities installed along highways – useful for fighting crime or for taxing vehicles for the miles they travel.

Unlike typical traffic cameras that photograph plates for an infraction, this new technology records license plate information regardless of wrongdoing.

Gov. J.B Pritzker insisted more surveillance cameras will reduce crime.

Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart said there’s no need for privacy concerns, that the state isn’t spying on people and that no warrants are needed.

He, too, said the cameras are essential to curbing crime such as Chicago-area highway shootings.

“Technology is critical to defeating crime, funding for cameras using automated license plate reader technology to help us identify and catch suspects involved in expressway shootings, and other violence, and we welcome the responsible expansion of that technology across the state,” Dart said.

More here.

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As Illinois police departments lobby city councils on the importance of cameras to combat crime, some are raising concerns about the right to privacy.

The American Civil Liberties Unions has released a report on Flock Safety, a company that sells license plate reading camera systems to taxing bodies. The ACLU report looks at how the technology is building a form of mass surveillance never seen before in American life.

Flock systems have been installed in 1,400 cities (including our Village) across the country and photograph more than a billion vehicles every month. Its ambition is to expand to “every single city in America.”

“We are concerned about all of this massive influx of technology over the last year or so and the question of what really happens to it and ultimately utilized,” said Ed Yohnka, director of communications and public policy with ACLU of Illinois.

Champaign and Peoria are using the technology.

In Springfield, taxpayers are paying $415,000 for 83 cameras to be installed in certain areas of the city.

Bloomington city leaders this month voted to install the license plate cameras despite opposition from the Central Illinois chapter of the ACLU.

Yohnka said company officials are using fear as a way to sell their products.

“The marketers of these systems are telling local leaders that they can adopt these systems in order to fight a recent spike in gun violence,” Yohnka said. “There’s actually no evidence that it works that way or that it will help in terms of that.”

Read more here.

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The Winter 2022 edition of the Village Newsletter was released yesterday.  A copy can be viewed and downloaded here.

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As the state continues to see new coronavirus cases by the thousands, a survey reveals why some Illinoisans still won’t get vaccinated.

QuoteWizard looked at the latest data on vaccine hesitancy and found that concerns over side effects was on the minds of Illinoisans.

“What we found specifically in Illinois is that 58% of people are worried about side effects,” said lead researcher Nick VinZant. “Fifty-three percent are waiting to see if the vaccine is safe, so there is a lot of vaccine worry in Illinois about side effects and wondering if its safe.”

The survey also found that 44% of Illinoisans have avoided getting vaccinated because they don’t trust the government, and 31% don’t believe that COVID-19 is a threat.

The coronavirus vaccine has been available free of charge but the survey found that people without insurance are nearly twice as likely to not get the vaccine. Nearly 20% of people without healthcare coverage are vaccine hesitant.

Researchers also found that the reasons for vaccine hesitancy vary across demographics. Women are more hesitant to get the vaccine that men. Older populations are more likely to get vaccinated, and white communities have higher rates of vaccine hesitancy than most communities of color.

Read more here.

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Chicago Speed Cameras

Chicago speed cameras in 2021 sent out a ticket every 11 seconds, meaning that by the time you finish reading this article there will be 21 more drivers unaware they have a rude surprise coming in the mail.

City speed cameras issued 2.3 million tickets through late October, slapping drivers with nearly as many speed camera violations in 10 months as the city issued in 2018, 2019 and 2020 combined. The spike came March 1, the start of Mayor Lori Lightfoot’s new policy to ticket drivers going 6 mph over the limit.

And the spike was big. Speed cameras churned out eight times as many tickets per day: $250,000 worth.

Grand total for the first 10 months of 2021: $73.8 million in speed camera fines. So in 10 months, Chicago made about $30 million more than it had in each of the prior three years.

Vanessa Ortiz was among the drivers caught under the new policy. One time she was making what became a very expensive coffee run.

“I’ve lived in Chicago for 13 years overall, starting in 2005, and I have never been pulled over by CPD or Illinois State Police for speeding,” Ortiz said. “The last time I received a speeding ticket was 15 years ago.”

“But there was one day where I went to go get coffee and I got a ticket on the way there and on the way back. It was a $70 cup. And of course, I didn’t know that until afterward when I got the notice for the two, I already received nine speeding tickets from the city.”

“And the max ticket was allegedly 38 miles an hour.”

Read more here.

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Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle


Cook County issued new rules effective Jan. 3 requiring people to show proof of vaccination against COVID-19 to enter county restaurants, fitness centers, and bars or entertainment and recreational venues serving food to reduce spiraling cases.

“Earlier this year, we had hoped that we were on a path to finally put the pandemic behind us,” Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle said Thursday.

“But unfortunately, with the dual threat presented by the Delta and Omicron variants, and with cases, hospitalizations and deaths rising to new heights across Cook County, we must once again reassess and realign our strategies with what the science is telling us.”

On Wednesday, the Illinois Department of Public Health reported 16,581 new COVID-19 cases. It’s the second highest daily count since the pandemic began.

Contributing to the latest virus surge is the omicron variant, which is extremely contagious and causing about 73% of new infections in the U.S., the U.S. Centers for Disease Control said Wednesday.

On Tuesday, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot instituted similar rules.

Read more here.

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A Flock Safety license plate reader camera uses a proprietary algorithm to identify a license plate, vehicle make, type and color.

Lake County officials want to know more about how data is used before determining whether automatic license plate readers should be allowed on county-owned highway rights of way.

Members of the county board’s public works, transportation and planning committee agree high-speed cameras can help law enforcement but are wary of unintended consequences involving potential privacy issues.

“There are some concerns of who has access to this information and when,” said committee member John Wasik of Grayslake.

“Our responsibility is things are not always used as intended,” said committee member Ann Maine of Lincolnshire.

The high-speed, computer-controlled cameras capture license plate numbers, location, date and time, a photograph of the vehicle, the driver and/or passengers.

In early October, the county staff was directed to study the possibility of allowing readers to be installed along several county highways in Zion’s municipal limit. The city already has readers in its jurisdiction and wants to add more.

“The push to our community is to improve the safety of citizens by using technology,” Zion police Chief Eric Barden told the committee.

Several other communities also have notified the Lake County Division of Transportation they are considering using the readers, according to Shane Schneider, director of transportation and county engineer.

Read more here.

Related:Libertyville police planning license plate readers at five locations

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