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Automated License Plate Readers and You

The automatic license plate readers (ALPR) used by California law enforcement agencies capture and store photographs of license plates when cars pass within the ALPR’s field of vision.

ALPRs are cameras mounted across the territory of a law enforcement agency atop stationary things, such as light poles, and mobile objects, such as police vehicles.

As the cameras take photographs of cars, trucks, vans, etc., inside their field of view, the images are translated into searchable data and stored in a database.

ALPR aids police enforcement in detecting automobiles associated with crimes, thefts, kidnappings, and other investigations.

For instance, the authorities are notified of armed assault and robbery and identify the vehicle if a witness provides partial details of the license of a fleeing vehicle.

By querying the ALPR database in real-time, law enforcement agencies can trace any ALPR sites that the car has passed, assisting in the suspects’ location.

ALPR data helps create “hotlists,” lists of car license plates related to a criminal investigation or person of interest.

Since ALPRs do not distinguish between license plates, every vehicle passing by an ALPR gets sent into the system.

In Los Angeles County, 99.9% of ALPR license plates do not match a hotlist, but the information is still maintained.

The use of ALPRs creates serious privacy problems. This was the conclusion reached by the California State Auditor’s Office, which was mandated by the legislature to audit ALPR systems in the state.

ALPRs are mass surveillance technologies that, according to the audit, are being misused.

According to the auditor, the usage of these systems does not represent the privacy principles required by section 1798.28 of the California Civil Code, which governs ALPRs and requires certain privacy practices of the systems.

The audit discovered that the ALPRs gather and store data, including in some instances personal information such as names, addresses, and dates of birth, in cloud storage controlled by a third-party vendor.

The data reveals a person’s travel habits, which might be utilized for malicious objectives. 

The audit provided an example of how this travel data may be used to blackmail a person; it just takes some creativity to understand how this could occur.

There was nothing written in the contracts that these third-party providers would safeguard the confidentiality of this information.

The audit also revealed that the data is being retained for a considerably longer period than is required.

It was discovered, for instance, that this data was held for five years in Los Angeles County.

In addition, the ALPR data is shared without discrimination with other authorities around the country. Most motorists do not know that their roadway movements are recorded and may be kept for years in a database.

ALPRs may be a helpful tool for police enforcement, but they also raise privacy problems and may lead to civil rights abuses.

In this era of widespread technological monitoring, the rights and liberties guaranteed by the United States Constitution are being eroded.

The Law Offices of Alex R. Hernandez Jr. serve Los Angeles County as criminal defense experts and are always prepared to fight aggressively to safeguard and uphold the rights of their clients. Get briefed on your best defense options via a free consultation.

Corpus Christi Criminal Defense Lawyer

Alex R. Hernandez Jr. PLLC is client-focused, results-driven, and wholly committed to achieving the best outcome possible for your criminal law case. He specializes in defending a wide variety of criminal offenses, including DUIs, drug crimes, white-collar crimes, domestic violence, federal crimes, and juvenile crimes.

Call 866-634-1092 for your free consultation today

Alex Aims To Prevent Your Criminal Offense From Defining Your Future.

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