Civil Rights Groups Urge Sacramento Police to Stop Sharing License Plate Data

The EFF and ACLU urge the Sacramento Police Department to stop sharing automated license plate reader data with out-of-state agencies, citing risks to civil liberties. The controversy surrounds the potential misuse of data to target individuals seeking reproductive or gender-affirming care in states with restrictive laws.

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Aqsa Younas Rana
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Civil Rights Groups Urge Sacramento Police to Stop Sharing License Plate Data

Civil Rights Groups Urge Sacramento Police to Stop Sharing License Plate Data

The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Northern California have written a letter urging the Sacramento Police Department (Sac PD) to stop sharing automated license plate reader (ALPR) data with out-of-state law enforcement agencies. The civil rights groups cite risks to civil liberties and civil rights, particularly for those seeking abortions or gender-affirming medical treatment.

Why this matters: The sharing of ALPR data with out-of-state agencies raises concerns about the potential misuse of this information to target individuals seeking reproductive or gender-affirming care in states with restrictive laws. This controversy highlights the need for law enforcement agencies to reevaluate their data-sharing practices and ensure they are not complicit in undermining individuals' rights and freedoms.

The controversy surrounding ALPR data sharing comes nearly two months after it was revealed that Sac PD shares this information with agencies outside of California. In their letter to Sac PD Chief Katherine Lester and City Attorney Susana Alcala Wood, the EFF and ACLU argue that the department should not only cease sharing ALPR data but abandon the use of such cameras altogether.

"The risks to civil liberties and civil rights that ALPR technology creates are well documented," the letter states. "Even if Sacramento PD takes steps to prevent the formal sharing of data with out-of-state agencies, the risk of informal sharing with these same agencies will remain."

The civil rights groups have given Lester and Alcala Wood until May 30 to respond to their letter. Neither the police chief nor the city attorney responded to requests for comment by the deadline for this article.

Sac PD is not the only California law enforcement agency sharing ALPR data beyond state lines. The Sacramento County Sheriff's Office also engages in this practice. The issue has sparked debate among law enforcement, civil rights advocates, and lawmakers amid concerns about the potential misuse of such data to prosecute individuals seeking abortions or gender-affirming care in states with restrictive laws.

Last year, California Attorney General Rob Bonta issued a legal memo warning state law enforcement that sharing ALPR data with out-of-state agencies violates state law. As the controversy continues, the Sacramento Police Department faces mounting pressure to reevaluate its policies on automated license plate readers and the sharing of data collected by this technology.

Key Takeaways

  • EFF and ACLU urge Sacramento Police Department to stop sharing ALPR data with out-of-state agencies.
  • Sharing ALPR data raises concerns about targeting individuals seeking reproductive or gender-affirming care.
  • Sac PD shares ALPR data with agencies outside of California, sparking controversy.
  • Civil rights groups argue that ALPR technology poses risks to civil liberties and civil rights.
  • California Attorney General warns that sharing ALPR data with out-of-state agencies violates state law.