National License Plate Database Sparks Privacy Fears


nys-plates_smThe Department of Homeland Security is now seeking a vendor to build and operate a smartphone-based national database of vehicle license plate information that would be shared with law enforcement.

Under the DHS plan, an agent could snap a photo with a smartphone, upload it to the database, and immediately be notified whether the plate is on a “hot list” of “target vehicles.”

“This system is supposed to be for the Immigrations and Customs Enforcement branch of DHS, for the tracking of illegal immigrants,” says WTOP National Security Correspondent J.J. Green.

ICE spokesperson Gillian Christensen tells Federal News Radio, “the database could only be accessed in conjunction with ongoing criminal investigations.”

DHS officially solicited the vendor on the Federal Business Opportunities website, for a National License Plate Recognition Database.

Green says a similar plate recognition system has been in use in the United Kingdom, using an extensive network of closed-circuit television cameras.

“It pretty much catches all the movements of cars, people, buses – pretty much anything that moves, at least in the cities,” says Green.

Read more at WTOP.

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