cars

ACLU of Northern California v. ICE (License Plate Readers)

Status:
Closed Case
May 16, 2018

The American Civil Liberties Union of Northern California filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit on May 23, 2018 demanding records of ICE’s relationship with private companies to access vast troves of information about drivers through Automated License Plate Reader (ALPR) databases.

Earlier in 2018, it was revealed that ICE purchased access to two private databases of ALPR data for potential use for civil immigration enforcement. This type of data—a scan of each license plate of a vehicle that passes an automated license plate camera, along with the date, time, and exact location the license plate was recorded–can disclose extremely sensitive information about an individual's movements. Aggregation of this information into databases containing billions of license plate scans stretching back months and even years threatens core civil rights and liberties protected by the Constitution.

While police departments collect the data for local criminal investigations, ICE may now be using the data for civil immigration enforcement. 

The lawsuit seeks ICE’s contracts with the private companies operating ALPR databases, as well as relevant training material, privacy policies, and other documents showing how ICE uses this surveillance technology. 

The ACLU of Northern California first sought this information through FOIA requests submitted to ICE on March 19, 2018 and March 21, 2018. ICE has improperly withheld the requested records.

The suit was filed in the United States District Court for the Northern District of California.

Between July and December of 2018, ICE produced more than 1,800 pages of documents.

Learn More:

Records Reveal ICE Agents Run Thousands of License Plate Queries a Month in Massive Location Database (June 5, 2019)

Documents Reveal ICE Using Driver Location Data From Local Police for Deportations (March 13, 2019)

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