SAN FRANCISCO — The Latest on a ruling by the California Supreme Court on data collected by automated license plate readers (all times local):
The California Supreme Court says public disclosure of information collected by automated license plate readers would violate people’s privacy, but there may be ways to get around that concern.
A unanimous court on Thursday ordered a lower court to consider methods to make the data anonymous and determine whether any of those would allow for its release.
The ruling came in a lawsuit by the American Civil Liberties Union and Electronic Frontier Foundation that sought a week’s worth of license plate data from the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department and Los Angeles Police Department to try to determine whether the information posed privacy risks.
Privacy advocates say the systems overwhelmingly capture innocent drivers, recording information about their locations that could be used to track their habits and whereabouts.
Law enforcement officials say the scans are useful in tracking stolen vehicles, missing children and people wanted by police.
The California Supreme Court will decide whether the public has a right to information collected by automated license plate readers — devices used by law enforcement that have raised privacy concerns.
The court is expected to issue a ruling Thursday about whether police must disclose license plate reader data under the state’s public records act or whether the information falls under an exemption for records related to investigations.
Law enforcement agencies nationwide are using license plate readers on patrol cars and fixed objects such as traffic signals to determine if vehicles are linked to crime.
They say the scans are useful for tracking stolen vehicles, missing children and people wanted by police.
Privacy advocates say they overwhelmingly capture innocent drivers, recording location information that could be used to track people.