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California police cannot share drivers’ location data out of state

A Northern California legal agreement will affect how two San Diego County police departments handle driver location data.

Activists represented by them American Civil Liberties Union announced on Wednesday a solution in their lawsuit against the Marin County Sheriff for sharing data collected by automated license plate readers with overseas and federal agencies in violation of two state laws.

As part of the deal, Marin County and Sheriff Robert Doyle agreed to share only driver location data with other California law enforcement agencies and pay $ 49,000 in attorney fees.

Because that matters

The vast majority of data collected by license plate readers are not related to criminal investigations. But for law enforcement members, it is a valuable tool with countless success stories. To the activists, they offer the government an unrestricted view of people’s daily lives.

“This settlement is a victory for disadvantaged and marginalized people, including immigrants, who have historically been subjected to civil rights violations through invasive police surveillance,” said Vasudha Talla, Program Director for Immigrant Rights at the ACLU North. California.

The way police handle location data has become a point of contention for activists fighting for a variety of reasons, as many states across the country discuss laws criminalizing women. seeking abortion or parents who acquire sex-affirming care for their children.

One inewsource research in January revealed that half of San Diego County’s 10 local law enforcement agencies were illegally sharing license plate data with other services across the United States. Small police stations in states as far away as Florida, New York and Connecticut have access to location data from drivers in San Diego County.

Police and city officials in Escondido and La Mesa initially doubleddefending the practice of data sharing outside the state and claiming that they did nothing wrong but later agreed to temporarily discontinue the practice.

After announcing the settlement of Marin County, said La Mesa Police Captain Matt Nicholas inewsource that the department will completely terminate the internship. Escondido Police Chief Ed Varso said it was no longer a policy not to disclose the data outside of California, but added that his office could continue the practice in the future if the law was changed or clarified.

License plate readers are small cameras mounted on top of patrol or stationary objects, such as light poles, that record every sign that appears, displaying the time, date, location, and sometimes a partial image of the vehicle. They automatically compare the license plate number with a list of vehicles that the police are looking for.

Because this surveillance technology has the ability to collect sensitive, private information – such as an individual’s daily routine or social networking – state lawmakers in 2015 stepped up privacy for drivers and enacted strict rules on how police can uses technology, including who has access to the information collected.

Three automated license plate readers appear above a police car in this undated photo. (Courtesy of Chula Vista Police Department.)

State law says that this data can only be disclosed to “public services”, which are defined as services in the state of California.

Activists call the cameras an indiscriminate attempt to gather data and point nationwide examples of law-abiding citizens to become a victim thanks to police misconduct or misunderstanding of technology.

“We are not against law enforcement and the use of surveillance to solve crimes,” said Yusef Miller, a social justice activist with the Northern County Equality and Justice Coalition and the San Diego Tribal Justice Coalition.

“But this technology must be managed, it must be transparent and it must be accountable to those who have misused this data.”

Police in Carlsbad, Coronado and Oceanside stopped sharing with all out-of-state services after questions from inewsourcebut before the survey was published in early January.

Escondido and La Mesa officials were pushed back. Escondido’s lawyer, Michael McGuinness, sent an email questioning the accuracy of the investigation.

Their argument led to the definition of public service, saying that it would include other bodies outside the state.

Six weeks later, police in Escondido and La Mesa decided to change course, but only for temporary cessation of the practice. Officials in La Mesa said they wanted to wait for the outcome of the lawsuit against Marin County and would consider continuing if it became clear that law enforcement was encouraged to share license plate data outside the state.

But that did not happen.

The settlement confirms that Senate Bill 34 prohibits California police from sharing license plate data with other services outside the state.

Varso, the Escondido police chief, had previously said in an email that he and the city prosecutor disagreed with inewsource and only decided to stop the practice of sharing in order to achieve a balance and maintain trust in the community. He added that he would inform the residents in case he decides to continue sharing data with organizations outside the state.

After receiving news of the settlement, Warsaw said inewsource the department will decide to continue sharing data outside the state only if “there is a revision of state law or another court case that further clarifies state law.”

Many California police departments continue to break the law by sharing this sensitive information outside the state, said Adam Schwartz, a senior attorney at staff. Electronic Frontier Foundationanother agency representing the activists who filed the lawsuit in Marin County.

“They have to stop,” he said. “Going forward we will try to locate California police stations that continue to break (the law) and ask them to stop, and if they do not, we may sue them just as we have sued the Marin County Sheriff.”

The issue has become particularly pressing as anti-selection and anti-transgender officials in other states harass people who come to California for health care.

“We can expect them to turn to the California police and say, ‘We want your license plate information,'” he said.

California police cannot share drivers’ location data out of state Source link California police cannot share drivers’ location data out of state

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