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Here are 79 California Surveillance Tech Policies. But Where Are the Other 90?

Laws are only as strong as their enforcement. 

That's why last weekend more than 30 citizen watchdogs joined EFF's team to hold California law enforcement and public safety agencies accountable. Together, we combed through nearly 170 California government websites to identify privacy and usage policies for surveillance technology that must now be posted online under state law.

On January 1, 2016 two new laws went into effect in California: S.B. 34 requires agencies that use automated license plate recognition (ALPR) or access ALPR data to publish privacy and usage policies, while S.B. 741 requires public policies for cell-site simulators, a type of cellphone tracking technology often referred to as "Stingrays" and "Dirtboxes." These policies must be posted "conspicuously" on their websites. 

We called the campaign the "California Surveillance Sweep," and it was an overwhelming success. In the lead-up to the event, we sent letters to the California Police Chiefs Association and the California State Sheriffs' Association to give them fair warning that we'd be scouring their websites to ensure compliance with the new laws. Some agencies proactively reached out to share their policies, including the Marin County Sheriff's Office and the Fremont Police Department. The latter of the two even went so far as to disclose that the agency was in the process of obtaining cell-site simulator technology and would enact a policy and post it online before officers deploy it. 

EFF's team located approximately 79 policies through extensive browsing and site searching. In most cases, the policies were relatively easy to locate (for example, they were linked on the front page of the agency's website). However, several agencies (e.g. the cities of Fullerton, Imperial, Oxnard, Palo Alto, and Riverside) required participants to search through policy manuals hundreds of pages long to find the necessary disclosures. Our volunteers could not locate policies for at least 90 agencies, which we believe could be using the technology based on public records.

We are very grateful for all the volunteers who joined us in person for the sweep and the dozens of others from around the country (and beyond) who contributed to the effort. In the coming weeks, we'll provide more analysis of these documents. 

Scroll down to read the policies of the agencies that are in compliance (or partial compliance) with S.B. 34 and S.B. 741 and view the list of agencies that still have work to do.

Updated April 11, 2016: Three volunteer researchers did not find an ALPR policy on the San Diego County Sheriff's website on April 9. Today it's linked on the front page. (Toggle between April 9 and April 11 on the WayBack Machine to watch it appear.)

Updated April 12, 2016: Three volunteer researchers did not find an ALPR policy on the Carlsbad Police Department's website on April 9. On April 12, the Carlsbad Police Department contacted us with details on where to find the policy online. It was posted at the bottom of the city's "Resources" page, but is not currently available through either the website's search function or Google searches. 

Updated April 13, 2016: The City of Elk Grove provided us with links to their policy, which was live as of April 6. However, the policy is currently buried three categories deep, which explains why three EFF volunteers were unable to locate it on April 9. The City of Coronado has also been added. According to a Coronado police representative, "Our agency is in the process of moving to a new web site and had included the policy, but had not placed it on the current site." The City of Walnut Creek has also been added. According to a Walnut Creek police representative, "The Walnut Creek Police Department had a glitch in posting our ALPR policy and we have now corrected it."

Updated April 14, 2016: The City of Los Altos has been added. According to a Los Altos police representative, "Our ALPR policy was posted last week, but apparently the link was not working. This has been updated." The City of Signal Hill police department wasn't included in our original search, but they contacted us and provided a link to their policy and thus have also been added.

Updated April 18, 2016. The City of Torrance has been added. The policy can be found in section 2.08.6 of a PDF accessible via a link on the Torrance Police Department's Website labeled "General Order 2.08 Computing and Communication Systems." That label doesn't clearly indicate that the linked document contains an ALPR policy, nor does any of the context of the linking page, which explains why three volunteer researchers were unable to find it on April 9.

Updated April 20, 2016. The City of Newport Beach has been added. (This policy was not yet posted on April 9 when our volunteer researchers were looking for it.)

Updated April 28, 2016: The City of Placentia alerted us that its ALPR policy had been upload to its site. It can be found by selecting "Departments," then "Police" under the main menu. A spokesperson also informed us that Placentia does not have cell-site simulators. 

Updated May 4, 2016: The City of Modesto posted its ALPR policy. A police spokesperson also confirmed that Modesto does not use cell-site simulators. 

Updated May 19, 2016: The City of Brea posted its ALPR policy on April 13, 2016. A police spokesperson said that the IT department had been instructed to uploaded it, but it was mistakenly not added. The County of Sacramento posted its policy for "Radio Frequency Measurement Equipment" on April 12, 2016. 

Automated License Plate Recognition

Cell-Site Simulators 

Agencies Without ALPR Policies 

These agencies were identified as potentially using ALPR technology or data based on public records. However, it is possible that these agencies have not used or no longer use ALPR and are therefore not required to post public policies. 

If you are a member of this agency and would like us to update this list, please email dm@eff.org. Include either the URL for the policy and the page where the link may be found or a statement that your agency does not use this technology. 

  • Cal State Fullerton
  • California Highway Patrol
  • City of Arcadia
  • City of Arcata
  • City of Arroyo Grande
  • City of Atwater
  • City of Bell Gardens
  • City of Benicia
  • City of Beverly Hills
  • City of Blythe
  • City of Brea (added 5/19/2016)
  • City of Brentwood
  • City of Buena Park
  • City of Burbank
  • City of Burlingame
  • City of Carlsbad (added 4/12/2016)
  • City of Ceres
  • City of Chino
  • City of Chula Vista
  • City of Coachella
  • City of Coronado (added 4/13/2016)
  • City of Costa Mesa
  • City of Covina
  • City of Desert Hot Springs
  • City of Downey
  • City of Dublin
  • City of East Palo Alto
  • City of El Segundo
  • City of Elk Grove (added 4/13/2016)
  • City of Garden Grove
  • City of Gardena
  • City of Glendale
  • City of Hawthorne
  • City of Hermosa Beach
  • City of Hesperia
  • City of Highland
  • City of Hollister
  • City of Irvine
  • City of La Palma
  • City of Lafayette
  • City of Laguna Beach
  • City of Los Altos (added 4/14/2016)
  • City of Los Angeles
  • City of Manhattan Beach
  • City of Manteca
  • City of Mill Valley
  • City of Modesto (added 5/4/2016)
  • City of Monterey Park
  • City of National City
  • City of Newport Beach (added 4/20/2016)
  • City of Oakland
  • City of Orange
  • City of Placentia (added 4/28/2016)
  • City of Rancho Cucamonga
  • City of Rancho Palos Verdes
  • City of Sacramento
  • City of San Fernando
  • City of San Gabriel
  • City of San Pablo
  • City of Santa Ana
  • City of Seal Beach
  • City of South Gate
  • City of South Pasadena
  • City of Torrance (added 4/18/2016)
  • City of Tulare
  • City of Vernon
  • City of Walnut Creek (added 4/13/2016)
  • County of Riverside
  • County of San Diego (added 4/11/2016)
  • County of San Joaquin
  • County of San Mateo
  • County of Solano
  • County of Stanislaus
  • CSU Long Beach
  • East Bay Regional Parks
  • Port of Los Angeles
  • San Jose/Evergreen Community College District Police Department
  • Town of Los Gatos
  • UC Irvine
  • University of Southern California

Agencies Without Cell-Site Simulator Policies

These agencies were identified as potentially using cell-site simulator technology based on public records. However, it is possible that these agencies have not used or no longer use cell-site simulators and are therefore not required to post public policies. 

If you are a member of this agency and would like us to update this list, please email dm@eff.org. Include either the URL for the policy and the page where the link may be found or a statement that your agency does not use this technology. 

  • California Department of Justice
  • City of Fremont
  • City of Los Angeles
  • City of Oakland
  • City and County of San Francisco
  • City of San Jose
  • County of Kern
  • County of Sacramento (added 5/19/2016)
  • County of San Bernardino (added 4/12/2016)
  • County of Ventura
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