DHS: License Plate Tracking Scheme? We Know Nothing! And Now It’s Canceled.

Federal license platePerhaps daylight does send the cockraches
scurrying, after all. After a chorus of outrage over a Department
of Homeland Security solicitation for bids to establish and
maintain “a
National License Plate Recognition (NLPR) database service
the feds now claim the whole project was unauthorized by DHS or by
Immigration and Customs Enforcement, in whose name it had been

Damn those rogue federal solicitations.

In a statement, Gillian Christensen, a Deputy Press Secretary at
U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, wrote:

The solicitation, which was posted without the awareness of ICE
leadership, has been canceled. While we continue to support a range
of technologies to help meet our law enforcement mission, this
solicitation will be reviewed to ensure the path forward
appropriately meets our operational needs.

The allegedly unauthorized solicitation for a database that
would “track vehicle license plate numbers that pass through
cameras or are voluntarily entered into the system from a variety
of sources” excited widespread opposition from civil liberties
advocates, especially since it included no reference to privacy
protections. Despite ICE’s role, the system was clearly not meant
to be confined to the borders, and called for “records from
metropolitan areas within the US.”

Even after the cancellation, the Jennifer Lynch of the
Electronic Frontier Foundation

However, DHS may still be accessing national license plate
data—collected by the private company Vigilant Solutions—on an ad
hoc basis. According to documents obtained by the ACLU of
Massachusetts, ICE agents and other branches of DHS have been
tapping into Vigilant’s data sets for years.

Whether that ad hoc access to license plate tracking involvess
“the awareness of ICE leadership” is anybody’s guess.

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