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Portola Valley: Hidden license-plate cameras captured drive-by traffic

Original post made on Apr 15, 2014

Radar-equipped vehicle-speed-monitoring trailers often seen along the side of the road in Portola Valley have been doing double duty recently: informing motorists of their forward velocity and taking photographs of their license plates.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Tuesday, April 15, 2014, 8:58 AM

Comments (19)

Posted by LaderaLiberal
a resident of Portola Valley: Ladera
on Apr 15, 2014 at 12:56 pm

The silence regarding the cameras "was not intentional......"
(And as I recall, the speed trailer blocking the bike lane was in Ladera, not PV.)

Posted by CraigHughes
a resident of Portola Valley: Woodside Highlands
on Apr 15, 2014 at 2:00 pm

LaderaLiberal, there was a trailer at both the Portola Rd and Alpine Rd entrances to town. The Alpine Rd one was pretty badly in the path of bikes, but the Portola Rd one was not much better.

Posted by Hmmm
a resident of another community
on Apr 15, 2014 at 2:18 pm

Yet another reason not to patronize PV.

Posted by We The People
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Apr 15, 2014 at 4:14 pm

Totalitarianism: When the government seeks to control every aspect or public and private life.

What has happened to us as a society and why is no one screaming from the rooftops right now??? Immoral, unconstitutional deeds done for good intentions are still immoral, unconstitutional deeds. Citizens have a right to be presumed innocent and go about their daily business without being spied on, even if there have been a spate of break-ins. The ends don't justify the means. Spy cameras, drones, etc. are the tools of totalitarianism because they film every move including perfectly legal and innocent ones to keep tabs on people. If "captured" license plate numbers are now being stored in an NCRIC data base that means anyone who drives through Portola Valley will automatically have a permanent record. Meanwhile, the criminals are still at bay.

Posted by Menlo Voter
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Apr 15, 2014 at 5:58 pm

Menlo Voter is a registered user.

We the people:

they did nothing illegal, unconstitutional or immoral. One has no expectation of privacy in public. Period. Long established case law. Every where you go there are cameras recording you. Get used to it. It's not illegal.

Posted by Security and Liberty
a resident of Atherton: other
on Apr 15, 2014 at 7:49 pm

menlo voter:

So you're okay with a drone looking down into your back yard?

And new camera technologies that can see past your drapes, and soon, walls?

And all this info stored indefinitely, and accessible by a host of "agencies"?

So when you son is talking with a woman, and her ex is watching (who is a cop) and he can then search all the databases and finds out your son is staying in your house for a few months, and he decides a little extra "surveillance" is in order...

You're good with all that?

Where is YOUR line, menlo voter? Is it just with APD?

If PV is recording information with out strict policies and guidelines fir the protection of that data, and the timely removal of that data, then there's a problem.

"Hidden" tells us there is not adequate protections in place.

Posted by Menlo Voter
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Apr 16, 2014 at 7:25 am


{Portion removed. Please discuss topic without attacks on posters.] I said we have no expectation of privacy IN PUBLIC not in private. The example you site about drones looking into back yards and seeing through drapes clearly are a violation of ones privacy because they are looking into a non public area. Those things have also been addressed by various court cases. [Portion removed.]

Posted by Free Society?
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Apr 16, 2014 at 9:22 am

Honestly, I'm not paranoid and am willing to accept that the police department was operating creatively in good faith.

However, why are they storing the collected data AT ALL much less for a YEAR. There was nothing found so discard the data. If they want to keep it for a few weeks, (in case there is another reported issue on those days) that would probably be ok too. And this assumes the NCRIC (really 'regional INTELLIGENCE CENTER' in our free state) will actually delete anything. Last I read, they have no data purge policy or obligation to their contributing agencies who might have a purge policy.

We must stand up and demand better practices and accountability with these new technologies

Posted by Joseph E. Davis
a resident of Woodside: Emerald Hills
on Apr 16, 2014 at 11:29 am

Menlo Voter, when you say that "we have no expectation of privacy in public" just who is the "we" that you refer to?

I certainly expect that while in public:
- I do not have policemen following me around and recording my every move.
- I do not have security cameras taping my every move and keeping the records available for anyone in government to look at forever more into the future.
- The government does not have access to all of my business transactions.
- The government does not know where I am every moment of the day.

The problem is that with the advancement of technology it is more and more practical for the government to gather this information. The statement that we have "no expectation of privacy in public" is a foolhardy and dangerous one if it is taken to mean that full recording is fair game.

Posted by Martin Engel
a resident of Menlo Park: Park Forest
on Apr 16, 2014 at 11:34 am

Makes you wonder why George Orwell bothered to write "1984." I guess a lot of people, although apparently not enough of them, were also "paranoid" in Nazi Germany's '30s. Then, there were the "Stasi" in East Germany under Soviet rule. Lots of paranoids in Soviet Russia also. Many ended up in Siberia. But, don't worry, that can't happen here. Last point, Menlo Voter: Of course, you know the story of the frog that immediately jumped out of the very hot water, but the frog put in the tepid water on the stove didn't jump out and cooked to death. That, I'm guessing, was Edward Snowden's point.

Posted by Public Protection
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Apr 16, 2014 at 12:51 pm

Yes, it's an absolute shame that our government agencies have cameras watching and tracking people in public. Too bad there were cameras in Boston in April 2013 so the agencies tasked with protecting the public could catch the people responsible for the Boston Marathon Bombings before they struck again and killed more innocent men, women and children.

Menlo Voter is correct, there is no expectation of privacy in public and I for one have no problem with it because I'm doing nothing wrong. All of you conspiracy theorists will be the first ones running to the "agencies" asking for details and information to catch "the bad guys" when your house is broken into or one of your loved ones is harmed. You can't have it both ways folks.

Moral of the story, look both way before you cross the street... you never know who's watching!

Posted by Joe
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Apr 16, 2014 at 12:59 pm

Police were fighting crime effectively before the invention of surveillance cameras, were they not?

The idea of creating a net with essentially no holes in it IS a surveillance state. Police like to justify the use of this technology because it is available and they should not be denied. They should be denied. We're just not exercising our judgment.

It's time we as a society put our collective foot down at this intrusion. It is NOT justified.

The proposal that you're doing wrong and thus have nothing to fear is the epitome of the earlier metaphor of the frog -- in warm water.

Posted by Joe
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Apr 16, 2014 at 1:00 pm

Sorry, I meant the idea that you're doing NOTHING wrong and therefore have nothing to fear, etc.

Posted by Hmmm
a resident of another community
on Apr 16, 2014 at 2:45 pm

Of course we can have it both ways. We can demand to have a voice to develop reasonable protocols and best practices with these types of surveillance. None of us is paranoid. Those of us commenting against this use of the technology are rational, informed and thoughtful. I've had my home broken into, I've had loved ones murdered. I never ran to the authorities to suddenly demand hiding cameras to catch the bad guys. And trying to conflate property crimes with crimes against persons is ridiculous.

Posted by Menlo Voter
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Apr 16, 2014 at 3:09 pm

Mr. Davis:

a police officer can follow you all over in public now and record your every move now if he wants to. You're in public. You may not like it, but the courts have said you have no expectation of privacy in a public space.

Security cameras are located all over the place in public taping your every move now. Take a look around next time you're out in a store or other public place. They've become ubiquitous. Most of them are not controlled by the government, they're owned by private citizens. They can keep the recordings as long as they want. They can also do with them as they please.

The government should not and does not legally have access to all your business transactions. I never said they should.

If you're in public, if the government wanted to know where you were every moment in public they could. It's been that way for quite some time. Fortunately, we are not like Great Britain where the government makes extensive use of cameras to monitor public places. At this point, I think it unlikely the government could follow you around using fixed cameras. They would need drones. I'm not suggesting that they are a good idea either.


It could be said the police were fighting crime effectively before the invention of the mobile radio. Technology advances. As it does we adopt it where we can to make our police forces even more effective. Should we have not allowed the police to use mobile radios when they became available?


You are right. We can exercise reasonable controls on the technology our government and police use to do their jobs. A blanket ban is fool hardy.

Posted by Joe
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Apr 16, 2014 at 3:35 pm

Menlo Voter: I think there are times when a line must be drawn. Since 9/11, police have taken liberties with the 4th Amendment. They've become quasi-military. And who is standing in their way? Who is contesting or at least questioning their decisions to buy and employ new technology? Who has that role? And are they exercising it and exercising it sufficiently?

Ask the Congressional reps about police tactics, and I have, and they defer to local authorities.

Police have had a free hand, in my opinion, thanks to judges like the conservatives now on the Supreme Court who blithely overturn precedent, trashing the legacies of decades of terrible and prolonged struggle for justice.

Posted by Menlo Voter
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Apr 16, 2014 at 6:04 pm

Menlo Voter is a registered user.


you ask who is contesting or at least questioning the decisions to employ new technologies. We should be and our elected representatives should be. And if they're not they need to be replaced. Enough people make it clear to them where the "line in the sand" is and if they don't enforce it they will be voted out of office and they either perform or we do just that. The problem is that most of the electorate are sheeple.

I agree that there needs to be a line. For me that line is between public and private spaces. the courts long ago ruled we have no reasonable expectation of privacy in public. Those were liberal courts at the time I think. It is totally impractical to try to "gerrymander" some exceptions in some public spaces and not in others. Public is public. If you don't want people up in your business don't conduct it in public.

Posted by Name hidden
a resident of Menlo Park: Suburban Park/Lorelei Manor/Flood Park Triangle

on Jun 4, 2017 at 2:41 pm

Due to repeated violations of our Terms of Use, comments from this poster are automatically removed. Why?

Posted by Name hidden
a resident of Atherton: West of Alameda

on Sep 24, 2017 at 9:52 pm

Due to repeated violations of our Terms of Use, comments from this poster are automatically removed. Why?

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