The Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) and Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department (LASD) use an electronic camera program called the "Automatic License Plate Reader" (ALPR) that records all of the license plates of cars on the road.
The ALPR cameras are mounted on police and sheriff cruisers, and on street poles.
Under the California Public Records Act, the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) asked the LAPD and LASD what the ALPR had recorded for the past two years and what their policies were for using this technology, noted Reason.com.
However, the LAPD and LASD refused to answer.
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According to the EFF, the LAPD and LASD stated in a court brief: "All ALPR data is investigatory—regardless of whether a license plate scan results in an immediate 'hit' because, for instance, the vehicle may be stolen, the subject of an 'Amber Alert,' or operated by an individual with an outstanding arrest warrant."
This means that all motorists in Los Angeles are under 24/7 surveillance for and their information may be kept for an unlimited amount of time.
However, the EFF claims this huge data sweep is not part of any actual "investigation" as the LAPD and LASD claim.
Ironically, the LAPD told the court that releasing this information might violate "individual citizens’ privacy interests," which it did not mention to citizens when secretly recording their plate information.
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The LASD also claimed that to be concerned about releasing the "personal identifying information” that it got from people's license plates without their knowledge.
The EFF is scheduled to argue their case in court tomorrow.