To local law enforcement, automatic license plate readers are just one more tool to help locate stolen cars or find criminal suspects.
The cameras, which can be mounted on police cars or positioned on roads and freeways, scan license plates and enter them into a database, showing where the car was, and what time it was there.
But advocacy groups have raised concerns over how law enforcement agencies are using the information it gathers. One group, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, issued hundreds of public records requests to agencies around the country to learn more about the data.
Turns out, license plate data gathered by the San Diego Police Department is shared with hundreds of agencies around the country, including the U.S. Border Patrol.
On this week’s San Diego Explained, Voice of San Diego’s Andrew Keatts and NBC 7’s Monica Dean unravel the controversies behind the information gathered by license plates readers and how it can affect San Diegans.