Digital records show where your car has been - ABC 33/40 - Birmingham News, Weather, Sports

Digital records show where your car has been

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In a society already convinced that "big brother" is watching, comes this report from the American Civil Liberties Union. The ACLU says police department are amassing millions of digital records on the location and movement of Americans using automated license plate scanners.

Tens of thousands of these scanners are scattered across the United States according to the report. The scanners are on police cars, bridges, or buildings and capture images of passing or parked vehicles.

Birmingham Police Department and Hoover Police Department talked with abc3340. Both departments are aware of the technology, but neither uses it at this time. Hoover Police Captain Jim Coker says police in the city tried out the scanners within the last five years, but the technology was not good enough for the department to invest in it. The scanned license tags would be sent through the state's database. Coker said, "any time technology is used, proper protocol and procedures must be in place." Would Hoover police look at this technology again? Coker said, "Yes, technology is always changing and departments must stay aware of the latest advances."

Birmingham Police Captain Henry Irby said, "Birmingham doesn't use anything like that." Irby agreed with Coker and said, "the police department is constantly looking at new technology."

Law enforcement officials call the practice legal and say it helps to automate work the police are already doing. The ACLU wants stricter rules in place, such as immediately deleting records not tied to an investigation.

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