Is privacy just dead? Or can we revive at least some of it?
Last Friday the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) and the American Civil liberties Union (ACLU) of Southern California filed the opening brief in their lawsuit against the Los Angeles Police Department and the Los Angeles Sheriff Department. The lawsuit deals with how the law enforcement agencies are using Automatic License Plate Readers (ALPR) to gather information. The two watchdog agencies argue that the two departments are illegally keeping quiet on how the information is used.
The EFF and the ACLU fear that the ALPR mounted on traffic light poles and patrol vehicles are gathering information such as license plate, time, date and location, that can be used to create a detailed map of what individuals are doing. Concerns for privacy and freedom of speech prompted the lawsuit. The scanners are seen as an expansion of an already growing arsenal of federally funded surveillance tools, including drone aircraft, surveillance camera, and “gunshot detector” audio recording devices. In 2012 the Wall Street Journal reported that the five previous years the Department of Homeland Security distributed over $50 million in grants to fund the acquisition of license plate readers.