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Police may be illegally giving personal location data to ICE

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Americans are deeply divided on how aggressively Immigration and Customs Enforcement should pursue undocumented residents–or on whether ICE should even exist. There is less debate, though, on whether governments should follow the law. A new investigation by the ACLU of Northern California reveals extensive surveillance cooperation between police forces and ICE that may violate local or state laws–and ICE’s own guidelines.

At issue is the legally ambiguous world of automated license plate reader (ALPR) technology–using high-speed cameras to scan plates on roads and highways, in shopping centers, and at other locations. Matching those numbers to vehicle registrations, date, time, location, and a vehicle photo can provide an intimate picture of everyone’s comings and goings–not just those of criminal suspects. Absent federal law on the technology, some states have enacted their own laws and regulations to control how the information is used.

Yet a trove of ICE documents obtained by the ACLU in a Freedom of Information lawsuit may show local law enforcement violating the provisions by handing license plate data over to the federal government. In some cases, this might violate cities’ or states’ so-called “sanctuary” laws that prohibit law enforcement from expending any resources on immigration enforcement. In others, the actions would violate local prohibitions on sharing data about anyone–including citizens–with outside authorities, says the ACLU.

The gathering of data may also violate........

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