ACLU Filing Suit Against License Plate Reader

A civil liberties organization is waging a legal battle over a law enforcement tool the Panama City Beach Police Department is currently testing. The American Civil Liberties Union and the Electronic Frontier Foundation have filed a lawsuit against Los Angeles area law enforcement agencies using computerized license plate reading equipment.

The system uses video cameras, tied into a computer, all mounted in a patrol car. It can scan the license plates of passing vehicles at a rate of about 800 a day, picking out stolen vehicles or those wanted in-connection with a crime. But the ACLU claims the plate reader infringes on individual privacy rights.

Beach police have been trialing the system for a few months. It's on-loan from another department, but beach police officials say they'd like to buy at least one of them, at a cost of about 20 thousand dollars.