Aug 29, 2023 - News

El Cajon latest city to share license plate data out of state

Smart streetlights in San Diego that include license plate readers

Smart streetlights in San Diego are equipped with license plate readers. Photo: Bing Guan/Bloomberg via Getty Images

El Cajon has gone where many, many San Diego cities have been before.

Driving the news: The El Cajon Police Department in July installed license plate readers to find stolen cars and solve crimes, the Union-Tribune reports. But the co-author of 2015's SB 34 said the department's practice of sharing data with out-of-state agencies violates California privacy law.

  • Department officials didn't specify why they consider the practice lawful. They said the cameras are solving crimes and told the UT their data can't be used for immigration enforcement or investigating anyone seeking reproductive health care in the state.

Flashback: Plenty of other area cities have run into similar issues with sharing data collected by license plate readers.

How it works: Departments can install automated license plate readers on fixed, high-traffic locations, where they can scan plates and register location and timing.

  • The systems then check that data against other law enforcement databases like stolen car reports, sending out alerts when there's a hit.
  • Officers looking for a specific car can also enter that plate number into the system to get real-time alerts when it passes a reader.

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