Traveling License Plate Scans – Contra Costa Edition



Bay Area cities with license plate reader equipment from Vigilant Solutions, an ICE vendor, share the scans of the license plates and car fronts of the people who drive in their town with a lot, emphasize a lot, of people. The LEARN database, Vigilant’s license plate scan storage system, contains the National Vehicle Locator Database (NVLS) which is a  law enforcement-collected license plate scan database. With NVLS, law enforcement agencies can share their scans with particular agencies and/or they can turn on a global “share button” which automatically shares all their scans with every other law enforcement agency in NVLS. At least until the spring of 2018, having the “share button” turned on meant that ICE could get to a city’s license plate reader scans via LEARN.

After news coverage in the spring of 2018 on Vigilant’s contract with ICE, and after several cities postponed or canceled Vigilant contracts over sanctuary concerns, the company announced that ICE would no longer recieve access via a global NVLS share. We have not been able to verify the accuracy of that statement.

Enclosed are LEARN data sharing reports from the Office of the Sheriff in Contra Costa County, the City of Brentwood and the City of Martinez. All had the global data sharing turned on and all were sharing license plate data with at least 500 other agencies through the global sharing button. All the reports were posted on Document Cloud by EFF’s Streetwide Surveillance Project. 


Counterspin: Tracy Rosenberg on ICE’s Corporate Collaborators



This week on CounterSpin: “As a company, Microsoft is dismayed by the forcible separation of children from their families at the border,” the global tech company declared in a statement. “Family unification has been a fundamental tenet of American policy and law since the end of World War II.”  The same Microsoft bragged a few months ago about ICE’s use of its Azure cloud computing services to “accelerate facial recognition and identification” of immigrants, though the post has since been altered to omit the phrase “we’re proud to support this work with our mission-critical cloud.”

The spotlight on the White House’s inhumane agenda on immigration and immigrants is exposing more than the devastatingly cruel practices in force at the border, but also the numerous big corporate and institutional players that are—often invisibly—enabling that agenda. And just like the agenda, the impact of these collaborations extends well beyond immigrant communities. We’ll talk about all that with organizer/advocate Tracy Rosenberg, executive director of Media Alliance and co-coordinator of Oakland Privacy.


Carpenter Nails It.


The Supreme Court said today that just because you carry a cell phone doesn’t mean you’ve given up all your privacy rights.

The Court held 5-4 that the practice of law enforcement being able to demand from cell phone service companies the record of where you have been (because cell phones transmit their location to cell phone towers essentially continuously), as a general investigative tool, is unconstitutional. From now on, barring exceptional circumstances, investigators will have to obtain a warrant to acquire that information, because it is subject to 4th amendment protections.

Key to the decision was this language from Roberts:

“The Government’s position fails to contend with the seismic shifts in digital technology that made possible the tracking of not only Carpenter’s location but also everyone else’s, not for a short period but for years and years.”

The decision is here.


Putting Surveillance On ICE


By Chris Jasinski

By now, many of us have read the gut-wrenching reports of ICE agents separating immigrant families at the border, including children from their mothers. While this story won’t be my focus, it provides us with yet more confirmation of ICE’s state-sponsored terrorist tactics.

So it might surprise you that we still get these sorts of questions:

“Why are you all so focused on ICE? What do they have to do with my privacy rights?”

We get them a lot, in fact, because where there’s a fight to be had against the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency (ICE) in the Bay Area, you’ll probably see Oakland Privacy organizing and advocating, alongside a coalition of groups and outraged citizens, for the most vulnerable people in our communities.