Kings Point plan takes it to a new level

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Kings Point plans to monitor 19 entrances into

Kings Point plans to monitor 19 entrances into the village. (April 18, 2011) Photo Credit: Newsday / John Paraskevas

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Joye Brown Newsday columnist Joye Brown

Joye Brown has been a columnist for Newsday since 2006. She joined the newspaper in 1983 and has

Welcome to Kings Point. Which, thanks to technology, could be on its way to becoming the nation's ultimate gated community.

Soon, there'll be a price for daring to drive through the 3.3-square-mile community: Cameras will gather license plate numbers to pry open a potential treasure chest of information about a vehicle's owner.

Name and address. Which is not so far from telephone number. Previous addresses. Work history. Driving record.

Pity the new pizza man. Or the mom from a neighboring village delivering a tot for a playdate.

What about the recent college graduate driving in for a job interview? Guests at a wedding? Mourners paying their respects after a funeral?

Cameras, hard-core silent sentries, make no distinction.

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The village says the system is intended to root out bad guys -- criminals or simply drivers dumb enough to ignore outstanding warrants.

And apparently there's no law against setting up the system because license plate numbers sit in plain sight.

Any determined criminal could, of course, get around the electronic dragnet by stealing a car. Maybe from a church parking lot, because that's likely where good folk -- hopefully with no outstanding traffic tickets -- tend to roam.

Criminals could also walk or jog into the community, or pedal through on a bicycle.

The only way to stop access would be to put beautiful Kings Point under glass.

Village officials appear to be well-intentioned in their desire to keep residents of Kings Point safe. But there's a difference between being vigilant and going overboard.

To be fair, other communities have placed surveillance cameras at intersections, too -- although in numbers that are dwarfed by Kings Point's ambitious plan.

And the notion of drivers maintaining privacy when, say, going through E-ZPass seems quaint in these high-tech, terrorism-fighting days.

Cameras are -- and will continue to be -- useful law enforcement tools. What makes Kings Point different, however, is that technology isn't being applied to troublesome, or even potentially troublesome, spots.

The village's aggressively democratic approach will have the effect of screening every driver -- resident or visitor -- for potential criminal activity.

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Just because Kings Point can do it doesn't mean it should. Especially since it's getting harder and harder to maintain even the illusion of privacy these days.

Run your name through pipl; run a friend's name through spokeo; these are but two of the deep Web search engines that go a lot further than the usual Google search.

The good news about GPS on cellphones is that police have a chance at locating people in danger. It can also help parents know where their children -- or at least their children's cellphones -- are, the notion of which could make some teens nervous.

Kings Point is taking things to a new level. Perhaps the next step will be to change the village signs.

"Welcome to Wonderful Kings Point. We've Got Our Eye on You."

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