Can license plate information from California result in prison costs in Texas? – Orange County Register

Abortion is usually unlawful in Texas. Anybody who helps a girl get one might be criminally liable below Lone Star State legislation.

So, who’s in danger if the Orange County Sheriff’s Division has shared information it collects from automated license plate readers with police companies in Texas cities like Giddings, El Paso, Gulfport, Liberty County, Nacogdoches County and Sensible County? May that California-collected information be used to trace down and prosecute of us who assist Texas girls get care that’s authorized right here, however outlawed there?

A license plate reader put in alongside Cerritos Avenue in Los Alamitos in 2022. The Los Alamitos Metropolis Council accredited a one-year pilot program to lease 12 Automated License Plate Readers from Flock Security. The readers seize car license plate info and filter it by legislation enforcement information sources to see if the car is a stolen or a wished car. (Photograph by Mark Rightmire, Orange County Register/SCNG)

Seems OCSD — and 70 different police companies throughout 22 California counties — have obtained demand letters from the Digital Frontier Basis and American Civil Liberties Union, urging them to cease sharing this information with states that limit or outlaw abortion. California’s Legal professional Normal has been copied on these letters as nicely.

“ALPR (automated license plate reader) know-how is a strong surveillance system that can be utilized to invade the privateness of people and violate the rights of complete communities,” the demand letters learn.

“ALPR methods acquire and retailer location details about drivers whose vehicles cross by ALPR cameras’ fields of view, which, together with the date and time of seize, might be constructed right into a database that reveals delicate particulars about the place people work, reside, affiliate, worship, search medical care, and journey. A lot of this info has historically been unavailable to legislation enforcement with no search warrant.”

The civil liberties organizations aren’t the one ones involved about this know-how.

In 2020, the California State Auditor concluded “the legislation enforcement companies we reviewed should higher defend people’ privateness by guaranteeing that their insurance policies mirror state legislation. As well as, we discovered that these companies should enhance their ALPR information safety, make extra knowledgeable selections about sharing their ALPR information, and increase their oversight of ALPR customers.”

There have been some coverage adjustments since then, however maybe not sufficient.

Who’s watching?

We suspect most folk aren’t conscious that so many cities acquire license plate information.

Orange County has the excellence of getting essentially the most police companies receiving the demand letter, at 12. Along with OCSD, there are the police departments in Buena Park, Cypress, Fountain Valley, Backyard Grove, La Habra, La Palma, Laguna Seashore, Orange, Seal Seashore, Tustin and Westminster.

A lot bigger Los Angeles County has 11 police companies on the checklist: Alhambra, Arcadia, Burbank, Downey, Hermosa Seashore, Montebello, Monterey Park, Palos Verdes Estates, Pasadena, Torrance and West Covina.

There are seven in Riverside County: Beaumont, Desert Scorching Springs, Hemet, Menifee, Murrieta, Palm Springs and the Riverside County Sheriff’s Division.

And there are 5 in San Bernardino County: Chino, Fontana, Ontario, San Bernardino Police Division and the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Division.

In Northern California, there are eight in Contra Costa County (Antioch, Brentwood, Hercules, Oakley, Pittsburg, San Pablo, San Ramon and Walnut Creek), two in Marin County (Novato and San Rafael) and one in Santa Clara County (Gilroy).

The EFF and ACLU say that sharing this info with companies past California’s borders is against the law, and provides the cities and counties a June 15 deadline for “immediate motion and response.”

A license plate reader installed along Katella Avenue in Los Alamitos on Saturday, February 12, 2022. The Los Alamitos City Council approved a one-year pilot program to lease 12 Automated License Plate Readers from Flock Safety. The readers capture vehicle license plate information and filter it through law enforcement data sources to see if the vehicle is a stolen or a wanted vehicle. (Photo by Mark Rightmire, Orange County Register/SCNG)
A license plate reader put in alongside Katella Avenue in Los Alamitos in 2022. (Photograph by Mark Rightmire, Orange County Register/SCNG)

Lawsuits might lurk on the horizon.

“Now we have obtained the letter and are analyzing it,” stated a spokesperson for Legal professional Normal Rob Bonta by e-mail. “Past that, to guard its integrity, we’re unable to touch upon, even to verify or deny, a possible or ongoing investigation.

“That stated — Legal professional Normal Bonta stays dedicated to safeguarding the digital privateness of people looking for reproductive care, and defend delicate well being information from being misused to focus on them.”


On this post-Roe v. Wade world, the knowledge collected might be utilized by police and/or prosecutors in anti-abortion jurisdictions in Texas to watch California abortion clinics, and the automobiles close to them, EFF and ACLU preserve.

That would spell authorized peril for the docs, nurses and others who work in these clinics, in addition to for out-of-state individuals who search care and supply transportation.

“There are some prosecutors and police which might be going to be treating this very aggressively, on par with homicide or kidnapping,” stated Dave Maass, investigations director for EFF. “And license plate readers are one of many best issues to entry. You don’t want possible trigger or a search warrant. This information shouldn’t be shared exterior state strains. The only and most accountable factor to do is to chop off entry for the exterior companies.”

The baker’s dozen cities that contract with the Orange County Sheriff’s Division for his or her neighborhood’s police companies maintain the contracts with license plate reader companies, not with OCSD itself, officers stated. The county’s largest police company says it’s simply attempting to observe the foundations.

“OCSD persistently follows the legislation associated to (California Public Report Act) disclosures and is dedicated to transparency,” stated division spokeswoman Carrie Braun. “Usually, the requestor’s location is just not a think about figuring out whether or not a document is topic to CPRA disclosure. If CPRA legislation had been to vary, or if any extra restrictions across the sharing of ALPR information had been enacted, we’ll modify our practices to observe the legislation.”

We reached out to dozens of cities and counties that obtained the demand letters. Suffice to say of us aren’t keen to speak about it. However on Twitter, an irate Sacramento Sheriff’s Department fired back.

“Legislation enforcement companies generally use info from License Plate Readers (LPRs) to analyze severe crimes, similar to murder, little one kidnappings, human trafficking, and drug trafficking throughout state borders,” it tweeted.

“Nevertheless, some organizations, such because the ACLU and EFF, have lied that legislation enforcement sharing this info is an try and violate folks’s authorized rights. These false claims are intentional and a part of a broader agenda to advertise lawlessness and forestall criminals from being held accountable.”

A vehicle passes by a license plate reader, at left, while traveling south along Norwalk Boulevard in Los Alamitos on Saturday, February 12, 2022. The Los Alamitos City Council approved a one-year pilot program to lease 12 Automated License Plate Readers from Flock Safety. The readers capture vehicle license plate information and filter it through law enforcement data sources to see if the vehicle is a stolen or a wanted vehicle. (Photo by Mark Rightmire, Orange County Register/SCNG)
A car passes by a license plate reader, at left, whereas touring south alongside Norwalk Boulevard in Los Alamitos in 2022. (Photograph by Mark Rightmire, Orange County Register/SCNG)

Maass, of EFF, stated that’s mistaken however amusing.

Chapter and verse

Businesses will not be sharing information in an try to violate folks’s rights, however they’re violating them nonetheless, the critics preserve.

Beneath the California Civil Code, as amended by Senate Invoice No. 34, “[a] public company shall not promote, share, or switch ALPR info, besides to a different public company, and solely as in any other case permitted by legislation, in response to Civ. Code § 1798.90.55(b), the demand letters clarify.

A public company is outlined as “the state, any metropolis, county, or metropolis and county, or any company or political subdivision of the state,” they proceed, quoting Civ. Code § 1798.90.5(f).

The state on this case is California. Not Texas or Kentucky or Alabama or Mississippi, Maass stated.

Whereas reciprocal data-sharing relationships between police companies in several states are nothing new — and it’s not but clear if information has been used to analyze abortion-related instances — the Supreme Courtroom’s elimination of Roe v. Wade has modified the panorama dramatically. California has handed greater than a dozen legal guidelines to enshrine the correct to reproductive freedom within the Golden State, together with legal guidelines that prohibit California legislation enforcement from cooperating with zealous out-of-state entities relating to abortions which might be lawful right here. Sharing info with legislation enforcement in states that criminalize abortion undermines these efforts, the demand letters say.

It’s no secret that civil libertarians hate the surveillance and privateness invasions this know-how breeds, and help makes an attempt to eliminate such cameras fully. It’s additionally no secret that police typically discover the tech helpful in fixing crimes.

Vintage California license plates (Courtesy of California DMV)
Classic California license plates (Courtesy of California DMV)

There have to be a firmer center floor. I used to be a bit shocked to see that my little seaside metropolis — which has abortion suppliers — has shared information with police companies in Texas, Oklahoma, Alabama, Louisiana, Tennessee, Mississippi, Arizona, Missouri, Kentucky, Georgia and lots of extra, in response to data Laguna Seashore offered to EFF and the ACLU.

Why? We’re eagerly awaiting the small print from that and different cities. We’ll let you recognize as quickly as we get them.

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