CONTACT: Tom Hargis, Director of Communications, ACLU of Texas, 832.291.4776, [email protected]

Police departments around the country are rapidly expanding their use of automatic license plate readers (ALPRs) to track the location of American drivers, but few have meaningful rules in place to protect drivers' privacy rights, according to documents released today by the American Civil Liberties Union. The ACLU’s report, "You Are Being Tracked," shows that many departments are keeping innocent people's location information stored for years or even indefinitely, regardless of whether there is any suspicion of a crime.

Statement from Terri Burke, executive director for the ACLU of Texas:

“The main problem with ALPRs is that they are not being used just to search for suspects, but also to keep records on the whereabouts of everybody. ALPR technology is increasingly becoming a tool for mass surveillance, and the ACLU report clearly documents that police departments are abusing ALPR technology by retaining data for long periods or indefinitely with few meaningful privacy protections.”

Statement from Rebecca L. Robertson, legal and policy director for the ACLU of Texas:

“The ACLU report shows that Texas should enact safeguards to limit how ALPR data may be collected, retained, and shared by government agencies. At present, police departments in Texas can implement and operate ALPR programs with no official policy on how data will be used and how long it will be stored. That’s troubling because this kind of tracking and recording of people’s movements by the government raises serious privacy concerns.”

Last summer, the ACLU of Texas and ACLU affiliates in 37 other states filed nearly 600 freedom of information requests asking federal, state, and local agencies how they use the readers. The 26,000 pages of documents produced by the agencies that responded – about half – include training materials, internal memos, and policy statements. The results and analysis are detailed in the "You Are Being Tracked" report, which includes charts and policy recommendations.

The report, an interactive map with links to the documents, and an interactive slide show are available here: