July 19, 2013
The patrol car in Acworth was a bit of a trailblazer in 2010. That's when the department mounted three stationary cameras on the rear of the car -- designed to scan traffic, snap still images of license plates, then match the tag number with a national database.
"And it's checking for wanted people, stolen cars, stolen tags, things like that," said Capt. Mark Cheatham.
They're called "license plate recognition" systems or LPRs, and they're increasingly becoming fixtures on police vehicles across the country. Acworth police say they have retained in a database every image taken by their LPR system, including the time and location of each image.
That includes the vast majority of images that have never produced a police investigation.
"All the information is kept in house," said Cheatham. "And should there be a need to look and see if we've ever had contact with a specific vehicle, then we can research that." Cheatham says the police images are subject to release under the state Open Records Act.
And that raises questions among critics
"With this technology, it constitutes a significant invasion of our privacy," said Chad Brock, staff attorney for the ACLU of Georgia. "Law enforcement can see what types of ... political events we're attending, what churches we are attending. That creates a whole host of constitutional concerns."
Critics say say the state should put limits on how long police can retain surveillance images that aren't part of active law enforcement investigations. "We do not believe it's acceptable to retain information indefinitely, particularly when you have collected data on innocent individuals," Brock said.
Acworth police counter they are merely gathering images on public streets that anybody can gather -- with camera equipment that's available commercially.
July 17, 2013
The ACLU has released the most comprehensive report to date on law enforcement’s use of license plate readers, one of the fastest-proliferating technologies in the government’s surveillance arsenal. Learn about how your movements on the road are being tracked and recorded: www.aclu.org/plates
June 10, 2013
U.S. Senator Johnny Isakson (R-GA) is defending the government surveillance program revealed to be gathering call logs from millions of Verizon phone subscribers.
Speaking after a conference in downtown Atlanta, Iskason said it’s been an important tool in preventing terrorist attacks.
“I can’t talk about some of the things that I know with regard to what our security procedures are, but I am satisfied that there’s no violation of the civil rights of an American citizen in there.”
The National Security Agency and others in the intelligence community are authorized to collect the call logs under 2001’s Patriot Act. Congress maintains oversight and federal judges on the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court must approve all data requests. In 2011, Congress renewed the Patriot Act for an additional four years.
September 24, 2012
Saturday, November 10, 2012The ACLU of Georgia's Annual Meeting
State Bar of Georgia Headquarters
104 Marietta Street, NW, Suite 100
Atlanta, GA 30303
Join us to meet newly elected members of the Board of Directors
and updates on our current civil liberties issues including: