The U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) said in its latest privacy assessment that Americans have no practical way to avoid their whereabouts being traced by license plate readers,media reported. CBP released the new report three years after it first launched the review. The United States has a vast network of license plate readings, usually found on the side of the road, which is used to collect and record the license plates of passing vehicles.
License plate readers can capture thousands of license plates per minute, and collected license plates are recorded and stored in a vast database so that police and law enforcement agencies can track millions of cars across the country.
It is understood that part of the reason the agency updates its privacy assessment is that Americans may not be aware that CBP can collect their license plate data.
“CBP was unable to provide timely license plate reading information from various sources outside its control,” the privacy assessment report reads. Many public and private properties have signs to remind the public that the area is monitored, however, it does not contain a description of how or to whom the data is shared. “
But the agency acknowledged in the document that “the only way to opt out of such surveillance is to avoid the affected areas, which can be difficult and often unrealistic.”
The document also notes that the privacy risks facing Americans are increasing significantly because the agency may access license plate data collected anywhere in the United States, including outside the 100-mile border area where CBP normally operates.
But the CBP says they will only access license plate data if there is circumstantial or supporting evidence, and they will only have access to the data for five years from the search date.