ACLU claims license plate readers' violate drivers privacy - MyFoxAustin.com | KTBC Fox 7 | News, Weather, Sports

ACLU claims license plate readers' violate drivers privacy

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According to the information presented by the American Civil Liberties Union, automatic license plate readers store not just snap shots of nearby cars and trucks, but also the license plate number, the date, time and location.

"The government, to invade our privacy, has to have probable cause, has to have a warrant, it can't just say, trust us," said Jim Harrington, with the Texas Civil Rights Project in Austin.

The information can be matched against a database containing vehicles involved in criminal investigations or cars whose owners may be in trouble with the law.

Harrington said, "We have to take their word that they were able to solve a crime by violating our rights? And they could not have gotten a warrant? That's hard to imagine."

ACLU's Executive Director released this statement, "The main problem with ALPRs is that they are not being used just to search for suspects, but also to keep records on the whereabouts of everybody. ALPR technology is increasingly becoming a tool for mass surveillance, and the ACLU report clearly documents that police departments are abusing ALPR technology by retaining data for long periods or indefinitely with few meaningful privacy protections."

"We are really becoming an amazing surveillance state and people ought to be really concerned about it," Harrington said.

"People just sort of sit there and say, oh, okay, I don't have anything to worry about. Then, all of a sudden, they wake up in the morning and APD has a folder about everywhere they have been for the last 30 days," said Harrington.

APD is using this technology and currently has one vehicle equipped with an ALPR.

The department has also been awarded grant money to buy more license plate reading equipment.

In a 2009 survey, over half of responding agencies that used license plate readers, which includes APD...admitted to not having a policy addressing license plate reader use.

Among the agencies that did have, or were developing policies, most did not address data retention or data sharing.

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