ACLU of Washington Comment on Automated License Plate Reader Expansion Proposal before the Public Safety Committee meeting of Seattle City Council

News Release: 
Tuesday, June 11, 2024
Seattle City Council is considering a proposal to roll out automated license plate readers (ALPRs) to Seattle Police Department’s entire fleet of cars. Both the expansion and the storage of the data collected by these readers raises new dangers to people’s privacy and civil liberties.
Tee Sannon, Ph. D., technology policy program director, had this reaction:
“The proposed ordinance would not only greatly expand the scale of surveillance in Seattle, but also raises new dangers to people’s privacy and civil liberties.
Particularly concerning is the plan to store the data using Axon, a third-party vendor headquartered in Arizona. This change could have dangerous consequences, potentially enabling law enforcement in states with abortion or gender-affirming care bans to bypass Washington State’s existing protections and obtain data on visitors seeking healthcare in Seattle.
Furthermore, this data is retained for 90 days, which further elevates the risk for misuse. Keeping license plate data that are not part of an investigation could cause real harm, particularly to immigrants and people seeking reproductive and gender-affirming care.”
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