Civil Liberties

License Plate Scanners, Linked With "Fusion Center," Spread Across Northern California

They have their eyes on you


The feeling of freedom that comes from driving down California's sunny open roads is at risk—and rising gas prices are not to blame. Our investigations show that at least twenty Northern California law enforcement entities as well as the California Highway Patrol track the whereabouts of millions of Californians using automated license plate readers (ALPR), and some apparently even share records with a "fusion center" connected to the federal intelligence community.

Scanning thousands of plates per minute, ALPR cameras create records of innocent people's movements that can be held for years. Unfortunately, as the ACLU's recent report shows, many agencies use ALPR without clear privacy protections for the collected data. Without proper safeguards, license plate readers can be used to identify every car parked near a protest or event, or to collect data about your visits to a doctor's office, local bar, religious services, and more. We need clear, strong rules to prevent the misuse of ALPRs and the data they collect.