WSJ: Justice Dept. Tracking Millions of Vehicles
The Wall Street Journal has reported that the Justice Department has been building a database which tracks vehicles across the United States.
The license-plate tracking program reportedly reads plates and tracks cars on major highways across the U.S. The program’s high-tech cameras also reportedly take photos that are clear enough to identify drivers and passengers.
The database was started in 2008 by the DEA to monitor drug traffickers along the Mexican border. It has since expanded, with more and more law enforcement agencies using it for non-drug-related reasons.
Justice Department officials tells Fox News that the feds limit who can access the database. They say all license plate information is deleted after 90 days.
Wall Street Journal associate editor John Bussey was on “Shepard Smith Reporting” to discuss. Watch the video above for more.
Read more below from the Wall Street Journal:
Officials have publicly said that they track vehicles near the border with Mexico to help fight drug cartels. What hasn’t been previously disclosed is that the DEA has spent years working to expand the database “throughout the United States,’’ according to one email reviewed by The Wall Street Journal.
Many state and local law-enforcement agencies are accessing the database for a variety of investigations, according to people familiar with the program, putting a wealth of information in the hands of local officials who can track vehicles in real time on major roadways.
The database raises new questions about privacy and the scope of government surveillance. The existence of the program and its expansion were described in interviews with current and former government officials, and in documents obtained by the American Civil Liberties Union through a Freedom of Information Act request and reviewed by The Wall Street Journal. It is unclear if any court oversees or approves the intelligence-gathering.
A spokesman for Justice Department, which includes the DEA, said the program complies with federal law. “It is not new that the DEA uses the license-plate reader program to arrest criminals and stop the flow of drugs in areas of high trafficking intensity,’’ the spokesman said.
Sen. Patrick Leahy, senior Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee, said the government’s use of license-plate readers “raises significant privacy concerns. The fact that this intrusive technology is potentially being used to expand the reach of the government’s asset-forfeiture efforts is of even greater concern.’’
The senator called for “additional accountability’’ and said Americans shouldn’t have to fear ”their locations and movements are constantly being tracked and stored in a massive government database.’’