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Thu, Jun 27, 2013 -- 9:30 AM

License Plate Readers Gather Millions of Records on Drivers


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Michael Katz-Lacabe/CIR
A license-plate reader mounted on a San Leandro Police Department car can log thousands of plates in an eight-hour patrol shift.
Michael Katz-Lacabe/CIR
A license-plate reader mounted on a San Leandro Police Department car can log thousands of plates in an eight-hour patrol shift.

In the wake of revelations about the NSA's secret surveillance programs, more information is coming forth about how police departments store the data they collect from license plate readers. Mounted on police cars, the devices can log photos of thousands of license plates in a single day's shift. The Center for Investigative Reporting found that millions of these records are being stored in local intelligence fusion centers, one of which is funded by a Silicon Valley firm with ties to the Pentagon and the CIA. Supporters say the license plate data help law enforcement catch criminals -- but others say the photos are a violation of privacy and make it easy to track law-abiding citizens.

Host: Thuy Vu

Guests:

  • Ali Winston, reporter and photographer covering criminal justice and author of an article on license plate readers for the Center for Investigative Reporting
  • Mike Sena, director of the Northern California Regional Intelligence Center, which stores the data law enforcement collects from license plate readers from 14 local counties

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