January 1, 2009
Napolitano backs security tech
As Arizona's Democratic governor since 2003, Napolitano has:
• Pushed state police to use cameras that scan license plates of moving cars to find vehicles that are stolen or linked to a criminal suspect.
• Promoted "face-identification" technology that could help surveillance cameras find wanted people by comparing someone's face with a photo database of suspects.
• Signed a 2007 bill making Arizona one of 12 states that collect and store DNA samples of people accused but not convicted of certain crimes, including murder, burglary, sexual assault and prostitution.
• Proposed an optional state ID for legal citizens only that features a radio-frequency chip to allow authorities to read the card. State lawmakers blocked the effort this year.
"She sees technology as the panacea of all our law enforcement problems and immigration issues," said Alessandra Soler Meetze, head of Arizona's American Civil Liberties Union chapter. "It's like she's embracing these technologies without taking the time to appreciate the privacy implications."
Arizona Department of Public Safety spokesman Harold Sanders said the state's 25 license plate scanners are "tremendously helpful" because they check for stolen cars by instantly comparing a license plate with a national crime database. The system has read 1.6 million plates and led to 122 arrests since mid-2006, Sanders said.
If confirmed as Homeland Security secretary, Napolitano will have opportunities to deploy technology, including sensors along U.S. borders and airport body scanners that look for weapons on passengers by taking images underneath clothing.
"She's going to have a lot more money to play with" for technology, Meetze said. [Mark Godsey]
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