[TechDirt] License Plate Reader Company Sues Another State For 'Violating' Its First Amendment Right To Build A 1.8-Billion-Image Database

Private companies engaging in large-scale surveillance are pushing back against the push back against large-scale surveillance… by filing lawsuits alleging their First Amendment right to photograph license plates is being infringed on by state laws forbidding the use of automatic license plate readers by private companies. [...]

So, Vigilant's point remains that what it does in terms of collection is not a violation of privacy because it does not have access to DMV databases holding personally-identifiable information. It glosses over the fact that it provides access to hundreds of law enforcement agencies around the US, all of which can acquire the connecting data. But that does seem to put the onus on law enforcement agencies to provide adequate privacy protections, including timely disposal of non-hit data. So far, very few agencies have attempted to so. [...]

In the singular (as Vigilant's argument goes), this isn't a privacy violation -- no different that someone taking a picture of a vehicle in public. But several months of time and location data creates something that can only be achieved through dedicated surveillance, something that does raise privacy questions, especially in light of the recent court decision finding that law enforcement officers need warrants to track cell phone users' locations. This is the same principle. [...]