Did you know that the NSA uses Uber Drivers and Soccer Moms to Spy on You?

The NSA is watching you…

In the United States there are thousands of otherwise normal citizens with camera equipped cars driving the streets spying on your every move. Each day your car’s license plate is often scanned more than a dozen times, in several locations, by several different scanners from several different companies. The most common scanners are deployed on private vehicles and are capable of scanning 1,800 plates per minute. This data from these scans is uploaded to several different national license plate databases and sold to banks and law enforcement organizations — including the NSA.

External license plate scanners on a private individual’s car.
Hidden license plate scanner on private contractor’s car.

While I was writing my post on how the NSA identified Satoshi Nakamoto, my source at the DHS described how the NSA subscribes to these private sources of license plate data to determine where you’ve been and where you’re going. Over the years the number of companies like DNR and the number of mobile scanners and solutions like PlateSmart has exploded.

Graphic describing DNR’s business model.

Almost every local, regional, or national repo firm has made license-plate scanners standard equipment employing thousands of people to literally vacuum data for national databases. There are about a 250,000,000 cars in the United States and most are scanned more than a dozen times a day. In turn the NSA subscribes to EACH of these national databases so they have a global view of where every American has been and where they are going.


By plugging this data into tools built with an open-source software library for machine intelligence called TensorFlow the NSA is able to determine a driver’s home address, office, gym, and favorite bar. Then still other proprietary tools created by NSA contractors are able to process this data to predict, with high confidence, where you’ll be at any given hour of any given day.

This mass data collection and surveillance of American citizens is being accomplished legally by normal everyday citizens working for private companies — not some shadowy governmental organization like the NSA. While some of these companies rely on contractor networks others simply employ drivers from Uber as well as soccer moms like Lori Jones who works for Relentless sucking up license plate data in her Honda Fit. Lori’s car is outfitted with a 50MM lens that can capture plates 60 feet away allowing her to automatically collect half a million plates each month while she drives her kids to soccer and karate practice.

There are no more secrets…

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