It’s a step forward — with what is probably a long path ahead to reining in the surveillance state.
The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) and the ACLU won a decision by the California Supreme Court that the license plate data of millions of law-abiding drivers, collected indiscriminately by police across the state, are not “investigative records” that law enforcement can keep secret.
California’s highest court ruled that the collection of license plate data isn’t targeted at any particular crime, so the records couldn’t be considered part of a police investigation.
The ruling sets a precedent that mass, indiscriminate data collection by the police can’t be withheld just because the information may contain some criminal data. This is important because police are increasingly using technology tools to surveil and collect data on citizens, whether it’s via body cameras, facial recognition cameras, or license plate readers.