While the U.S. government's mass surveillance on emails and phone calls has dominated the news cycles, local governments have quietly been scanning license plates of unsuspecting motorists across the nation.
The American Civil Liberties Union, or ACLU, released documents today that confirm local police departments are using scanners on top of police cars or at fixed locations to photograph license plate info, which is held for years, notes RT.com.
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According to documents obtained through a number of Freedom of Information Act requests filed by the ACLU, license place scanners allow police officers to see and record every vehicle that passes.
Then the information is matched against a database that contains vehicles involved in criminal investigations. According to the ACLU, this information sweep also includes innocent people (video below).
“But increasingly, all of this data is being fed into massive databases that contain the location information of many millions of innocent Americans stretching back for months or even years," said ACLU staff attorney Catherine Crump on the ACLU's website today. "What can location data reveal about people? Trips to places of worship, political protests or gun ranges can be powerful indicators of people’s beliefs. Is it really the government’s business how often you go to the drug store or liquor store, what doctors you visit and the identities of your friends?"