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About Face: DHS Scraps Car Tracking Proposal

09-07-2014

The Homeland Security Department has suddenly dropped plans to build a nationwide system to track license plates.

On Wednesday, CBN News Today reported about the DHS's attempt to hire a private company to build a massive database of scanned license plates that government agents could access using smart phones 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

The stated goal was to use license plate recognition technology to help hunt down illegal immigrants.

But privacy advocates argued the proposed system could be used to track anyone in the country.

"The base level concern is that license plate data is location data, and location data is very revealing," Jennifer Lynch, an attorney with the civil liberties group Electronic Frontier Foundation, said.

"It can tell you a lot about a person's life: where they go, who they associate with, what kind of religion they practice, what doctors they visit," she said.

Now the DHS secretary has cancelled the plan and ordered a review of the proposal.

"While we continue to support a range of technologies to help meet our law enforcement mission, this solicitation will be reviewed to ensure the path forward appropriately meets our operational needs," stated Immigration and Customs Enforcement spokeswoman Gillian Christensen.

Civil liberties groups are still worried the plan might be revised and restarted later on.

"While we are heartened that it looks as though the plan is off the table for now, it is still unexplained why the proposal was put forward and why it has been withdrawn," American Civil Liberties Union lawyer Catherine Crump said.

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