Two privacy activist groups formally appealed on Tuesday to the California Supreme Court, in their attempt to compel two Southern California law enforcement agencies to release one week’s worth of license plate reader data.
In May 2013, the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) and the American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California (ACLU SoCal) had sued the Los Angeles Police Department and the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department to gain access to the data as a way to better understand this surveillance technology. The groups lost in 2014 at the lower court level and last month at the appellate court.
Both agencies, like many others nationwide, use license plate readers (LPRs, or ALPRs) to scan cars and compare them at incredible speeds to a “hot list” of stolen or wanted vehicles. In some cases, that data is kept for weeks, months, or even years. Handing over such a large volume of records by a California law enforcement agency is not without precedent.
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