Traveling License Plate Scans – Contra Costa Edition

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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 receive 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. 

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