(credit: Brett J.)

Two civil liberties groups filed their opening brief with the California Supreme Court late Monday, forcefully arguing that the millions of automated license plate reader records gathered automatically by police throughout the Golden State are not records of investigation.

If the court agrees, such data could be released to anyone as part of the state’s public records process. Such a decision would represent a sea change in how automated license plate reader (ALPR, or LPR) data is shared with and scrutinized by the public.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Southern California originally brought their case against the Los Angeles Police Department and the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department in an attempt to obtain one week’s worth of all LPR data. When the agencies refused, the organizations filed suit and lost at both the local and appellate levels.

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