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How Are Police Departments Using License Plate Reader Data?

Written by Govtech
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  • Govtech
  • 2 years ago

Automatic license plate readers (ALPR) have grown in sophistication, and a number of police departments across the nation have adopted the technology. On Jan. 21, the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) released ALPR data it received from the Oakland, Calif., Police Department (OPD). A foundation blog post demonstrates what the ALPR data collected by a police department looks like when mapped, and speculates on what the data might be used for.

EFF Investigative Researcher Dave Maass explained to Government Technology that while his organization finds it difficult to take a stance for or against the technology, today’s landscape presents several potential problems around ALPR, including issues of oversight and data retention. The data is interesting to look at, Maass said, and provides insight that will help legislators understand how this technology manifests. But the EFF hasn’t reached any definite conclusions about what the OPD’s data means.

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