California mall owner’s license plate readers send info to ICE:

California mall owner’s license plate readers send info to ICE:

A real estate company is reportedly feeding visitor info to a database accessed by ICE.

Some shopping malls in California are scanning license plates and sending that data to a surveillance vendor that works with — and sells information to — Immigrations and Customs Enforcement. That’s according to a reportby tech watchdog group Electronic Frontier Foundation, which discovered that a regional real estate company operating retail centers across the western state is feeding visitor information into a nationwide database that ICE reportedly gained access to at the beginning of this year.

The Irvine Company has installed automatic license plate readers (ALPRs) at “one or more” of its shopping malls in the city, according to its privacy policy, which notes that the information collected is sent to Vigilant Solutions. That’s the company providing license plate recognition data to ICE, The Verge reported back in January. While The Irvine Company’s retail locations are probably providing only a fraction of the 2 billion license plate photos in Vigilant Solutions’ database, nobody was aware that their license plates — and ergo, their behavior patterns and location information — were being collected while shopping.

ICE isn’t the only customer buying Vigilant’s data: The company also shares it with up to 1,000 law enforcement agencies, the EFF’s report noted. Its sister company Digital Recognition Network also sells information collected by ALPRs to financial lenders, insurance companies and debt collectors. And as the watchdog group pointed out, the only reason we know about this connection is due to a 2015 California law requiring ALPR operators to disclose their policies online. In other words, who knows what other companies are feeding Vigilant Solutions your license plate data?

BY: David Lumb


Source: The Electronic Frontier Foundation


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