License Plate Cameras

Feds Share Captured License Plate Data With Insurance Companies

Hey, we're all friends here

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It may come as little surprise that every time you cross the border, cameras record your license plate number and feed it into a database of driver locations. More disturbing, perhaps, is the fact that the government seems to share that automobile surveillance data with an unexpected third party: insurance companies.

Documents obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request and released Tuesday by the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) catalogue just how pervasive automatic license plate readers have become at the Mexican and Canadian borders, with cameras placed in dozens of U.S. cities each capturing images of millions or tens of millions of plates a year. But the FOIA'd records also include memos outlining the sharing of that license plate data between the Department of Homeland Security's Customs and Border Protection, the Drug Enforcement Agency, and most significantly, the National Insurance Crime Bureau, an Illinois non-profit composed of hundreds of insurance firms including branches of Allstate, GEICO, Liberty, Nationwide, Progressive, and State Farm.

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