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ACLU Looks to Probe License Plate-Reading Cameras

Cameras could be collecting data on people suspected of no wrongdoing, organization says.

Police cruiser-mounted surveillance cameras are intended to scan license plates to detect drivers with outstanding warrants and stolen or unregistered vehicles, but if they're used for other purposes they could be violating privacy rights, according to the American Civil Liberties Union.

And the ACLU is looking to find out if that's happening. The organization submitted a lawsuit in U.S. District Court in Boston, requesting under the Freedom of Information Act that national law enforcement organizations turn over their records on information collected by the cameras, known as Automatic License Plate Readers.

"As ALPRs increasingly blanket American roads and highways, they raise the prospect of pervasive and prolonged surveillance of Americans' movements, a problem exacerbated when law enforcement agencies keep data about people not suspected of wrongdoing, and when data from discrete ALPR systems is pooled together into state, regional and even national databases."

The request was previously sent as a letter to the Department of Justice, FBI, DEA and other federal agencies in July; the lawsuit was filed Sept. 25. It seeks to obtain records of the type of data collected and stored by the cameras and records regarding the development or implementation of any federal database from the cameras.

The Medford Police Department has had a cruiser equipped with two license plate-reading cameras mounted to its trunk since 2009. It received the cameras through a federal grant funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

Frampton September 28, 2012 at 11:09 AM
I don't believe anyone has a right to privacy with their license plates. They belong to the Registry. The ACLU has nothing better?
stevieB October 01, 2012 at 04:28 PM
Funny the aclu never looks into when Obama violates the constitution in an almost weekly basis
Perault October 01, 2012 at 04:58 PM
Good point
Vic October 01, 2012 at 10:40 PM
License plates are qwned by the DMV if you dont want the police to check your plate dont get one. Typical ACLU looking to make criminals lives easier than those of us who do the right thing in our lives.

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