Your local or state police department may have photographs of your car in their files, noting where you were driving on a particular day, even if you never did anything wrong, reports the Associated Press. Using automated scanners, law enforcement agencies across the U.S. have amassed millions of digital records on the location and movement of every vehicle with a license plate, says a new study from the American Civil Liberties Union.
Attached to police cars, bridges, or buildings, scanners capture images of passing or parked vehicles and note their location, uploading information into police databases. Departments keep the records for weeks or years, sometimes indefinitely. “At a time of fiscal and budget constraints, we need better assistance for law enforcement,” said Harvey Eisenberg of Maryland’s U.S. Attorney’s office. Law enforcement officials say the technology is legal in most cases, automating a practice that's been done for years. The ACLU found five states with laws governing license plate readers.