Los Angeles—On Tuesday, June 6, at 9:30 am, the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) and the ACLU Foundation of Southern California will argue that license plate data, collected by police indiscriminately on millions of drivers each day, are not investigative records that police can shield from public scrutiny.
Automated License Plate Readers (ALPRs) are high-speed cameras mounted on light poles and police cars that continuously scan the plates of every passing car. They collect not only the license plate number but also the time, date, and location of each plate scanned, along with a photograph of the vehicle and sometimes its occupants. Police departments store this data for years. Location data like this, especially when stored over time, can reveal sensitive information about the history of a person’s movements, associations, and habits.
EFF submitted public records requests to Los Angeles law enforcement agencies asking for a week’s worth of data collected by the hundreds of ALPR cameras around the city and county of Los Angeles. When the agencies refused, EFF teamed up with ACLU to sue for access to the records. A lower court ruled all license plate data could be withheld from disclosure as “records of law enforcement investigations.”
EFF co-counsel Peter Bibring, director of police practices at the ACLU SoCal, will argue that ALPR data are not investigative records because they are collected indiscriminately on all drivers within view of the cameras—the vast majority of whom are innocent citizens going about their daily lives. The data should be released so the public can understand and scrutinize how this intrusive technology is used.
What: Hearing in ACLU of SoCal and EFF v. Superior Court of Los Angeles
When: Tuesday, June 6, 9:30 am
Where: California Supreme Court
Ronald Reagan State Office Building
300 South Spring Street, Third Floor, North Tower
Los Angeles, California
For more information on this case:
For more information on ALPRs: