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Report: Law Enforcement Watching Us Like Hawks With License Plate Scanners

Now Civil Liberties Groups Are Questioning Safety Vs. Invasion Of Privacy

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NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Think about everywhere you drove on Wednesday — to work, the gym, daycare. Now consider this: a new report says thanks to a growing web of cameras, police keep track of your every move.

Is it for safety or is it an invasion of privacy?

If you drive a car the American Civil Liberties Union says chances are your local or state police department knows where you’ve been and can track your every move — from the gas station to the grocery store to your home, CBS 2’s Hazel Sanchez reported Wednesday night.

“I think it’s an invasion of privacy,” one person said.

“I think it’s scary and creepy,” Borough Park resident Yvette Sosa added.

Law enforcement agencies across the country and throughout the Tri-State Area are using license plate scanners to record your license plate number and location at any time. There are some 3,000 stationed cameras in Lower Manhattan that are linked up to license plate readers as part of the city’s domain awareness system.

After researching hundreds of police departments coast to coast, the ACLU released a new report saying police are unfairly documenting the lives of innocent people.

“We want to make sure we have a conversation about how these cameras can impact individual’s rights, before they’re deployed everywhere,” ACLU attorney Chris Conley said. “What are the policies going to be? How long is the data going to be stored? When can it be used?”

The data is kept anywhere from 48 hours in Minnesota to five years in New Jersey to indefinitely in cities like Yonkers. Police departments coast to coast say the scanner data is critical.

“There is no reason for police departments not to be utilizing the technology that’s out there to help us do our job,” Piedmont Chief of Police Rikki Goede said.

The ACLU says it supports the technology when used to solve crimes but it wants regulations in place to prevent police from scanning people everywhere all the time.

“I don’t really have anything to hide, so I don’t have a problem,” Union City, N.J. resident Yudeca Sanchez said.

“If I’m a law-abiding citizen and I’m traveling every day or whatever it is I don’t want a cop to know my whole life story,” Lancaster, Pa., resident Eddie Gomez said.

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