California Auditor Releases Damning Report About Law Enforcement’s Use of Automated License Plate Readers
By Dave Maass and Hayley Tsukayama
Posted April 13, 2020
California police and sheriffs are failing to protect the privacy of drivers on city streets, the California State Auditor’s office determined after a seven-month investigation into the use of automated license plate readers (ALPRs) by the Los Angeles Police Department and three other local law enforcement agencies. California State Senator Scott Wiener sponsored the State Auditor’s report.
The report is a damning assessment of how California law enforcement agencies use this mass-surveillance technology, which employs computer-controlled, high-speed cameras mounted on street lights, on top of police cars, or speed-monitoring trailers that automatically capture images of every vehicle that drives by, without drivers’ knowledge or permission. The cameras capture the exact time and place a license plate was seen, and often compares that data point to hot lists of “people of interest” to police. The cameras are capable of capturing millions of data points, which, taken in the aggregate, can paint an intimate portrait of a driver’s life and even chill First Amendment protected activity. More…