A very unsexy-sounding piece of technology could mean that the police know where you go, with whom, and when: the automatic license plate reader. These cameras are innocuously placed all across small-town America to catch known criminals, but as lawyer and TED Fellow Catherine Crump shows, the data they collect in aggregate could have disastrous consequences for everyone the world over.


Watch the TED talk, listen carefully and answer the questions below:


Comprehension Questions


  1. Where was the crack down on protestors?


  1. What is the key technology that tracks driving mass called?


  1. Where do police cars read license plates near mosques?


  1. How old is John Kat?


  1. What is the name of the device which tracks cell phone signals in peoples houses called?



Gap – fill


Watch the video again from 05:13 to 05.:32 and fill in the blanks:


The question is, what should we do about (6) _____? I think this poses a serious civil liberties (7) _______ . History has shown that once the police have massive quantities of data, tracking the movements of (8) __________ people, it gets abused, maybe for (9) _________ , maybe for political advantage, or maybe for simple (10) __________.



True or False?


Listen to the material again and answer true or false to the following statements:


  1. The police shot Mark Brown in Ferguson.


  1. Automatic license plate readers monitor mobile phone signals.


  1. StingRay identifies cell phone locations.


  1. The police in Ferguson possess high-tech military weapons.


  1. There are no steps we can take to stop this invasion of privacy.






  1. Ferguson, Missouri
  2. Automatic License Plate reader
  3. New York City
  4. 80
  5. StingRay
  6. this
  7. threat
  8. innocent
  9. blackmail
  10. voyeurism
  11. (F) it was Michael Brown
  12. (F) they read car license plates
  13. (T)
  14. (T)
  15. (F)