U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) claimed that Americans cannot avoid its license plate surveillance. According to Techcrunch's latest report, the agency's latest privacy assessment stated that there is no practical way for United States citizens to avoid having their movements tracked by its license plate readers.

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To notify the public that CBP plans to tap into commercial database, a new assessment was published, three years after its first. The license plate surveillance is a part of its border enforcement efforts, which aggregates license plate data from both public and private sources.

According to Yahoo Tech's report, the U.S. collects and records the license plates of vehicles passing by, using a massive network of license plate readers, which are usually found on the roadside. Thousands of license plates are captured by the license plate readers each minute. The massive database will hold the stored and recorded data that will give the law and police enforcement agencies the ability to track millions of vehicles across the country. Since Americans may not be aware that the agency can collect their license plate data, CBP updated its privacy assessment in two parts.

"CBP cannot provide timely notice of license plate reads obtained from various sources outside of its control," said CBP.

"Many areas of both public and private property have signage that alerts individuals that the area is under surveillance; however, this signage does not consistently include a description of how and with whom such data may be shared," added the agency.

Will CBP's license plate surveillance lead to privacy risks?

The agency admitted that the only way for Americans to avoid its surveillance is to stay away from impacted areas, which may pose significant hardships and be generally unrealistic. In 2017, CBP also did the same thing during a trial that scanned the faces of American travelers as they departed the U.S. The agency said that the only way Americans can avoid the face-scanning is to refrain from traveling. 

A document stated that the privacy risk might be increased since CBP may access license plate data, which is captured anywhere in the country, including outside of the 100-mile border zone within which the agency typically operates. CBP claimed that it will lessen the risk since they will only access license plate data when there is supporting or circumstantial evidence to further investigation. CBP agents may only access data within a five-year period from the date of the search.

 

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