The Danger of License Plate Readers in Post-Row America

The Danger of License Plate Readers in Post-Row America “The biggest problem is people sharing data without really being intentional about who they’re sharing it with and why,” says Dave Moss, senior research researcher for the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF). Moss notes that police can’t be the only ones using ALPR data to track people seeking abortion access. Thanks to the passage of Texas Senate Bill 8 (SB 8), anti-abortion groups could use license plate data in litigation, he said. Against the people as a whole.

That law allows anyone in the US to sue abortion providers who “aided or induced” someone seeking an abortion after a fetal heartbeat was detected (usually around six weeks), or who intended to help someone obtain an illegal abortion in the state. . Anti-abortion groups are also known write down Mass notes people’s license plate numbers at abortion clinics over the years, so they may already have a database of license plate numbers they can search.

“I am concerned about this large private database maintained by DRN data. “It’s not necessarily law enforcement but individual actors who try to enforce abortion laws under things like Texas’ SB 8,” Moss said.

DRN data Repo maintains a license plate reader database that receives its data from trucks and other vehicles equipped with ALPRs. (DNR Data has not yet responded to WIRED’s request for comment.) Regardless of who’s operating it, there’s no shortage of license plate scanners, and both Moss and Stanley say it’s hard for someone seeking an abortion to avoid spying on them. the way

“You can take Uber, but that’s going to create a different data trail. You can rent a car, but that’s a different data trail. You can travel by bus, but that’s a different data trail,” Moss said.

One policy change that could help solve the problem is if states adopt the same type of law that New Hampshire has, Stanley said. its statute States ALPR data “will not be recorded or transmitted anywhere and will be deleted from the system within three minutes of their capture, unless the number leads to an arrest, citation or protective custody, or locates a missing vehicle or person that requires transmission.” This type of law prevents police departments from storing usable data for long periods of time.

Like abortion laws, ALPR regulations vary by state. New Hampshire hasn’t been storing this data for long, but Arkansas—this was last month It criminalized almost all abortion care– Allows data to be stored 150 days. Other states may limit license plate data storage to between 21 and 90 days. Georgia, a pending law that would ban abortions after detecting fetal cardiac activity, allows police to store license plate data for up to 30 months after it is collected. Mass says these issues need to be addressed across the country.

“Legislators should take note of this. Law enforcement needs to talk to their city council members about how they’re going to address this,” Moss said. “Attorneys general who claim they are going to protect abortion access need to look at their data systems. Much of this has to be dealt with in a procedural context.

ALPRs are one of many surveillance tools available to police departments and anti-abortion groups, but they become one of the most powerful tools available if states make it illegal to cross state lines to obtain an abortion. States seeking to protect access to abortion care have little time to assess how this technology is being used and whether policies need to be changed to limit its use.

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