On behalf of community activists, we are suing the Marin County Sheriff for illegally sharing the sensitive location information of millions of drivers with out-of-state and federal agencies, including Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and Customs and Border Protection (CBP). The Sheriff uses automated license plate readers (ALPRs)—high-speed cameras mounted on street poles or squad cars—to scan license plates and record the date, time, and location of each scan. This data can paint a detailed picture of the private lives of Marin County residents, including where they live and work, visit friends or drop their children off at school, and when they attend religious services or protests.

The Sheriff’s ALPRs scan thousands of license plates each month. That sensitive data, including photos of the vehicle and sometimes its drivers and passengers, is stored in a database. The Sheriff permits over 400 out-of-state and 18 federal agencies, including CBP and ICE, to run queries of full or partial license plates against information the Sheriff has collected.

This data sharing particularly impacts the safety and privacy of immigrants, communities of color, and religious minorities. Like many other surveillance technologies, ALPRs have a history of disproportionately impacting marginalized communities. ICE has used ALPR data to detain and deport immigrant community members. NYPD used ALPRs to scan license plates near mosques.

The Sheriff’s sharing of ALPR data to entities outside of California violates state law. S.B. 34, enacted in 2015, prohibits California law enforcement agencies from sharing ALPR data with entities outside of California. Moreover, the California Values Act (S.B. 54), enacted in 2018, limits the use of local resources to assist federal immigration enforcement, including the sharing of personal information.

In October 2021, EFF, the California ACLU affiliates (Northern California, Southern California, and San Diego & Imperial Counties), and the Law Office of Michael Risher filed a lawsuit on behalf of three activists against Marin County and Sheriff Bob Doyle for violating S.B. 34 and the California Values Act. We seek a court order prohibiting the Sheriff from sharing ALPR data to out-of-state and federal agencies.

Read the complaint and press release. Check out the ACLU of Northern California’s case page.

Meet our clients:

Cesar S. Lagleva is a community organizer and activist from Marin County, where he works as an educator and consultant. He is also a psychotherapist in private practice. Read his statement.

Tara Evans is an archaeologist and community activist who lives in Marin County. Read her statement.

Lisa Bennett is an immigrants’ rights activist and a grocery store owner in Marin County. Read her statement.