Under the Firearm Owners Protection Act of 1986, the federal government is banned from keeping a registry that ties specific firearms to gun owners. The very idea of a “national gun registry” is repugnant to most Second Amendment supporters. The intention of the Second Amendment is that the people were to be armed in case we need to throw the bums out of office in DC. Therefore, gun owners don’t want the government to know who has guns and who does not. If the government ever moves to confiscate firearms from the public, it’s better for us if the government doesn’t know where to look. Unfortunately, the legal protections we have against the government don’t seem to apply to Google and Facebook.
The first discovery of the massive data mining that Google and Facebook are doing against all of us – without our knowledge or consent – actually involved license plates. If you’ve checked out your neighborhood (or any neighborhood) with Google Streetview, you probably noticed that all of the license plates on vehicles are blurred out. Google allegedly does this to respect the “privacy” of drivers.
But that doesn’t mean Google doesn’t have everyone’s license plate number. The auto website Jalopnik discovered that Google has not only indexed the license plate number of every vehicle in every photo on the internet but has also made vehicles searchable based on their license plate numbers. All you have to do to test this is go on Google Images and type in your license plate number in quotes. (This may not work if you have a newer car that hasn’t been photographed by the Google Maps car, or if you’ve never posted images of your vehicle online.)
Pause for a moment to consider how dangerous this is if you’ve ever posted a picture of your car in your driveway. A guy who pitches a road rage fit at you during your morning commute could potentially track you down at your home address if he gets your license plate number. All it would take is a couple of Google searches and some creative guesswork.
Google has never mentioned to the public that it is data mining our license plates. Nor has this ever been mentioned in a congressional hearing. As usual, the tech giant believes it’s better to ask for forgiveness than to ask for permission. How does Facebook fit into this? Facebook is helping Google to aggregate the data so that a specific license plate is tied to a specific vehicle, which is tied to a specific individual, i.e., you.
But it’s much worse than just spying on which cars we drive. The Firearm Blog became suspicious when it learned that Google was indexing everyone’s license plates without their knowledge or consent. So, the blog typed in the serial numbers from some firearms, silencers and other gear that they had featured in photographs on the site.
Sure enough, Google Images identified the blogger’s firearms when he typed the serial numbers in. This means that Google and Facebook know that those individual firearms are owned by that specific individual. You can call it anything you’d like, but that’s a “national gun registry.”
Do you think for one second that the FBI, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives (BATFE), or your local police department don’t know about this? I wouldn’t be surprised if we learned that BATFE asked Google and Facebook to do this for them.
The Obama administration was caught circumventing the laws about a national firearms registry back in 2012, after all. When you purchase a gun and the background check is run through the FBI, that record is supposed to be destroyed by the FBI within a few months. This is a specific protection for gun owners, which helps prevent the creation of a “national gun registry.” Team Obama worked around this by sending a copy of every background check to BATFE, and then the FBI destroyed the original record. As usual, Obama was following the letter of the law with one hand while completely subverting it with the other. The records in BATFE’s possession were supposedly destroyed after they got caught. Believe them if you wish.
The bottom line is that Google and Facebook are in fact creating a national gun registry. If you’re a gun owner, think twice before you post any pictures of your firearms online – especially with the serial numbers in view.