July 11, 2108-In a report posted yesterday, a respected online privacy organization says information from license plate readers is being shared with immigration and customs enforcement officials. The story revolved around malls in California, but has widespread applicability here in the region as more and more local police departments deploy the technology provided by Vigilant Solutions, Inc. According to the Electronic Frontier Foundation, Vigilant is a private company and is thus shielded from public disclosure laws. Under the terms of a contract between I.C.E and Vigilant, Vigilant is to provide all license plate reader data to I.C.E. Neither I.C.E. nor Vigilant would confirm the existence of an agreement, however, theverge.com confirmed through sources that Vigilant has provided access to its nearly 2 billion license plate images.
The City of Hammond, Towns of Griffith, Highland and Munster have all entered into agreements with Vigilant Solutions as has Chicago and many other Chicago area municipalities. Hammond released a statement earlier this year regarding the implementation of a “blue wall”-in essence a license plate reader at virtually every entrance and exit to the City. Privacy advocates fear that the license plate readers can be used as tracking devices, picking up on the movement of individuals by reading license plates at various locations.
We reached out to the Hammond Police Department for comment on this story and will update it as soon as a response is received.