Surveillance

EPIC: Federal Agencies Trading Data on Motorists' Movements for Software, Hardware from Insurance Industry

Documents obtained by the Electronic Privacy Information Center reveal state capitalism and the surveillance state at its worst

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Federal agencies are giving away data on the movements of innocent motorists in return for software and equipment provided by the insurance industry. The Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) on Tuesday released documents revealing in greater detail how federal agencies are using the data collected by automated license plate recognition systems (ALPR or ANPR in Europe). These devices are use cameras and computer algorithms to create an history of where people drive, and when. As first reported in Forbes, the new EPIC documents show the data generated by the cameras are being handed over to private insurance firms.

EPIC and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) have been hitting government agencies with freedom of information requests regarding the use of license plate readers. Until now, the public has been kept in the dark about how their driving history is being used, or lead to believe the cameras would only be used to find specific, targeted vehicles on a "hot list" of stolen cars. Instead, the systems are building a history of the movements of people who have done nothing wrong.