About that PPD SUV disguised as a Google Street View car - Technical.ly Philly

Civic

May 13, 2016 11:50 am

About that PPD SUV disguised as a Google Street View car

Alas, that “Government Spy Truck” you read about yesterday is really just the byproduct of some shoddy police work.
The vehicle in question.

The vehicle in question.

(Photo via Motherboard)

Writing for Vice’s Motherboard blog, local journo Dustin Slaughter reported this morning that a white van bearing a Google Maps decal on its side was actually registered to the Philadelphia Office of Fleet Management.

But, man, wasn’t it a better story with the added menace of “Government Spy Truck,” as was reported yesterday?

Anyway, today’s spoiler alert adds some clarity.

The vehicle, parked in the tunnel beneath the Pennsylvania Convention Center, had two automated license plate reading (ALPR) cameras mounted on top. To the untrained eye, the units might have passed as standard equipment for a Google Street View vehicle, like the ones that started periodically canvassing Philly back in 2011.

The Philadelphia Police Department (PPD) admitted, in an emailed statement to Motherboard, that the van was in fact a city-owned vehicle, but that the decal was an unauthorized addition.

Advertisement

“We have been informed that this unmarked vehicle belongs to the police department; however, the placing of any particular decal on the vehicle was not approved through any chain of command. With that being said, once this was brought to our attention, it was ordered that the decals be removed immediately,” a PPD spokesperson told Vice.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania released a statement this morning condemning the use of Google imagery to conduct police work.

“In today’s digital era, many people trust and rely on Google to make their lives easier and safeguard their communications and privacy. By hiding mass government surveillance under a fake Google logo, the Philadelphia Police Department has further jeopardized police-community relations at a time when they are already fragile,” said Reggie Shuford, president of the local ACLU chapter.

-30-
CONTRIBUTE TO THE
JOURNALISM FUND

Already a contributor? Sign in here
Connect with companies from the Technical.ly community
New call-to-action

Advertisement

ROAR for Good is discontinuing its flagship product, Athena, at the end of the year

Here’s how 11 startups grew during the second LIFT Labs Accelerator

Why this dev planted roots at The Philadelphia Inquirer after starting her career abroad

SPONSORED

Philly

How ShopRunner’s mentorship program is pushing its employees to think beyond their fields

Philadelphia, PA

Macquarie

Technical Lead – Asset Management Software

Apply Now

Philadelphia, PA

Macquarie

Global Data Technology Senior Manager

Apply Now

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Macquarie

Data Modeler

Apply Now

Public safety app Citizen is now live in Philly

Hear from the privacy pros at Security by the Schuylkill

Philly Mag: These 5 technologists are changing the face of power

SPONSORED

Philly

How Relay is helping enterprise clients get proactive about customer engagement

Horsham

Penn Mutual Life Insurance Co

Product Systems Specialist

Apply Now

Philadelphia

The Philadelphia Inquirer

Digital Account Executive

Apply Now

Philadelphia

The Philadelphia Inquirer

Sales Analyst

Apply Now

Sign-up for daily news updates from Technical.ly Philadelphia

Do NOT follow this link or you will be banned from the site!