How Is ALPR Used For Surveillance in California

license plate reader cameras

ALPRs are high-speed camera systems that take pictures of license plates, translate the numbers and letters into machine-readable text, tag them with the time and place, and upload the information to a database for later retrieval.

ALPR is frequently used by law enforcement authorities to compare plates to a "hot list" of plates suspected of being linked to crimes or even belonging to owners who owe court fines. ALPR, on the other hand, is a mass surveillance device because it captures data on every driver, the vast majority of whom are innocent. The technology aggregates data might and detailed driving patterns and can identify drivers who frequent specific sites.

Laws require agencies to divulge several key policy points, which include: 

  1. The allowed uses of the ALPR system and the collection of ALPR data.
  2. Employees and independent contractors who are permitted to use or access the ALPR system, or to gather ALPR data, must have a description of their job title or other designation. The training requirements for approved workers and independent contractors must be specified in the policy.
  3. A explanation of how the ALPR system will be monitored to guarantee information security and adherence to applicable privacy regulations. 
  4. The purpose, procedure, and limitations for selling, exchanging, or transferring ALPR information to others.
  5. The title of the ALPR system's official custodian, or owner, who is in charge of executing this part.
  6. A description of the reasonable procedures that will be taken to guarantee that ALPR data is accurate and that data inaccuracies are corrected.
  7. The amount of time ALPR data will be kept, as well as the process the ALPR operator will use to determine whether or not to keep ALPR data.

The list below contains links to each of the agency's policies, but it does not indicate whether or not the policies themselves contain information that meets these requirements.

If you work for an agency that has an ALPR policy that isn't on this list, or if you independently discovered a policy that isn't on this list, please let us know or comment below on Disqus.

ALPR Policies in Local Government

Please aware that many of the links will take you to the websites of other jurisdictions. This is because, despite the fact that many agencies employ ALPR technology and share data, they are still obligated to link to a policy on their websites, even if the systems are not theirs.

Privately Operated ALPR Policies 

The ALPR statute in California also applies to private businesses. While we have not undertaken a survey of private ALPR systems, we are adding them as they become available.