WJTV News Channel 12 - ACLU releases new report raising privacy questions about police

ACLU report raises privacy questions about police technology

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The debate over how much power our government and local law enforcement should have over our privacy is just about to get bigger.

The ACLU just released a new report showing that millions of license plates are captured by cameras mounted on police cars and bridges all over the country and some say it's going too far.

The next time you pass a police car and see two rectangle looking boxes attached on top of it, chances are, a picture of your license plate is being captured.

Sarah Preston is the policy director with the N.C. ACLU and said, "I think for most families and most people who aren't doing anything wrong, they still don't want to government to know what church they're going to, they don't want the government to know what doctors they see. These are private things, that they feel are protected from the government."

The ACLU's latest report shows just much these readers are being used to record and track our movements. In N.C. alone, they found at least 11 towns and cities that use this technology.

A Youtube video from PIP ALPR Systems shows a demonstration of how these cameras work. Officials say as soon as the officer starts using the car, the readers start taking images of license plates immediately.

Raleigh police say these cameras are valuable in observing and investigating criminal activity. They have six cars with those mounted cameras. But opponents say 99 percent of the time, the license plates captured, are of law abiding citizens. 

"The hit rate on this information is extraordinarily low" said Preston.

The ACLU is calling for local police departments to immediately delete any records of vehicles, not linked to any crime. How often this type of data is deleted varies from city to city. 

Eileen Park

Eileen joined WNCN after years of working as a foreign correspondent. During her time off, she enjoys relaxing with her dogs, reading, and exploring the Triangle. More>>

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