Are new systems on police cars that automatically scan license plates to look for criminals or stolen cars an invasion of privacy?
Privacy advocates think so — and they’re going to court to try to find out more.
The American Civil Liberties Union and the Electronic Frontier Foundation have filed a suit against the Los Angeles Police Department and Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department asking that they disclose the information they have accumulated from the practice, the Los Angeles Times reports.
ACLU attorney Peter Bibring tells the Times that his group has no objection to scanning for stolen cars.Rather, they believe that law enforcement should quickly erase any information gathered on cars and drivers when they aren’t connected with a suspected crime. It’s the only way to keep police from creating electronic databanks on innocent citizens.
The sheriff’s department has 77 vehicles equipped with plate readers. There are also 47 cameras in fixed locations. Both departments say they hadn’t released the information required by the two privacy groups because it constitutes investigative material.