10/29/2019Florida Lawsuit Against License Plate Readers Advances
Florida judge allows lawsuit against license plate readers in Coral Gables to proceed.
A Florida judge earlier this month found merit in the argument that automated license plate readers (ALPR, also known as ANPR) might violate state privacy laws. The New Civil Liberties Alliance, a group that seeks to limit the power of administrative agencies, sued the city of Coral Gables on behalf Raul Mas Canosa, a motorist who was tracked by the city's cameras.
"If I've done nothing wrong and have no criminal record, why is my city monitoring me?" Canosa asked.
Miami-Dade County Circuit Court Judge Abby Cynamon rejected the city's attempt to have the anti-camera lawsuit thrown out on the grounds that motorists have no expectation of privacy. The city also argued that because Canosa is not a subject of any investigation, he has not been harmed.
"This court finds that there is a bona fide, actual, present and practical need for a declaration as to whether the collection of such information violates the plaintiff's privacy rights," Judge Cynamon ruled. "There is nothing abstract, conjectural or ephemeral about the claim since the city has and continues to collect such information about the plaintiff's vehicle."
Coral Gables considers itself the "statewide leader" in the use of cameras to track the movements of all passing motorists, having taken 30 million license plate photos last year alone. Those photos are converted into searchable database entries that track the time, date, identity and location for all vehicles passing through one of the city's thirty camera-equipped roads and intersections -- including Interstate 95. This movement history is then made available to eighty different state, federal and local agencies.
Coral Gables began using the cameras in 2015 after city leaders cut a deal with Safeware and Vigilant Solutions. The private vendors agreed to operate the cameras and feed the data into the city's "crime intelligence center" for monitoring around the clock.
"The defendants' argued there's nothing stopping them from tracking all vehicle traffic for years with an ALPR system and then allowing law enforcement to pore over the captured data without any individualized suspicion," NCLA lawyer Caleb Kruckenberg said in a statement after the order was issued. "We are pleased that Judge Cynamon rightly rejected those arguments. We look forward to vindicating Floridians' right to privacy in this case."
A copy of the order is available in a 700k PDF file at the source link below.