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California Automated License Plate Reader Policies

Any person or entity in California, including public agencies, that deploys automated license plate readers (ALPR) or accesses ALPR data must post a privacy and usage policy online under a new state law that went into effect on Jan. 1, 2016.1 With the help of our supporters, EFF has compiled links to more than 135 policies published by government agencies (primarily for law enforcement purposes). We have also built a Google Map of the jurisdictions with relevant links (subject to Google's Privacy Policy). 

ALPR are high-speed camera systems that photograph license plates, convert the numbers and letters into machine-readable text, tag them with the time and location, and upload that data into a database for retrieval. Often law enforcement agencies that use ALPR compare plates to a "hot list" of plates suspected of being connected to crimes or even belong to owners with outstanding court fees. However, ALPR is a mass surveillance technology in that it collects information on every driver, the overwhelming majority of whom are innocent. The technology poses a threat to locational privacy; in aggregate the data can reveal detailed driving patterns or identify the drivers who frequent particular locations, such as protests, gun shows, and health care facilties. 

The new law requires agencies to divulge several key policy points, including: 

  • The authorized purposes for using the ALPR system and collecting ALPR information.
  • A description of the job title or other designation of the employees and independent contractors who are authorized to use or access the ALPR system, or to collect ALPR information. The policy shall identify the training requirements necessary for those authorized employees and independent contractors.
  • A description of how the ALPR system will be monitored to ensure the security of the information and compliance with applicable privacy laws.
  • The purposes of, process for, and restrictions on, the sale, sharing, or transfer of ALPR information to other persons.
  • The title of the official custodian, or owner, of the ALPR system responsible for implementing this section.
  • A description of the reasonable measures that will be used to ensure the accuracy of ALPR information and correct data errors.
  • The length of time ALPR information will be retained, and the process the ALPR operator will utilize to determine if and when to destroy retained ALPR information.

The list below contains links to each of the agency's policies, but it does not reflect whether the individual policies include information satisfying these requirements.

If you represent an agency with an ALPR policy that is not included in this list, or you have independently found a policy that is not on this list, please contact EFF Investigative Researcher Dave Maass at dm@eff.org

Local Government ALPR Policies

Please note that many of the links will redirect to other jurisdictions' websites. This is because many agencies engage in ALPR equipment and data sharing, but still are required to link to a policy on their websites even if the systems do not belong to them. 

Click to visit Google Map (Google privacy policy applies)

Click to visit Google Map (Google privacy policy applies)

Non-governmental ALPR Policies 

California's ALPR law also applies to private entities. While we have not conducted a survey of private ALPR systems, we are adding them as we are made aware of their existence. 

  • 1. Transportation agencies are exempt from this requirement because their ALPR systems are regulated by another section of California law. If an entity does not have a website, it must policy available on request
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