Tuesday, September 25, 2012
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and the ACLU of Massachusetts(ACLUM) [advocacy websites] on Tuesday filed suit [complaint, PDF; press release] to obtain records and information regarding the use of automatic license plate readers (ALPRs) by federal law enforcement and agencies. The suit was filed in the US District Court of Massachusetts against the US Departments of Justice and Homeland Security [official websites] after the federal agencies refused to comply with a Freedom of Information Act request filed by the ALCU [JURIST report] in July. ALPRs are cameras mounted near roads and highways that photograph and record license plate numbers. The numbers are electronically interpreted so that police can be alerted when a license plate of interest is seen. The ACLU is seeking information about the length of time ALPR data is kept, with whom it is shared and the security of the records. They also seek information on any privacy polcies to protect drivers. An ALCUM staff attorney said, "If the government knows where you shop, where you worship, who you visit, and where you go to the doctor, it can put together a picture of your entire life. Police shouldn't track everybody. They should only track people they suspect of committing crimes."