(Cyrus Farivar) San Jose, California, America’s 10th largest city, isn’t just content to put license plate readers on police cars anymore—rather, it now wants to deputize garbage trucks to be an additional tool in its ongoing surveillance.
According to the San Jose Mercury News, the mayor and one city councilman put forward a new proposal Wednesday that would allow sanitation vehicles to use the scanning devices and feed the data automatically to city police.
“We can cover every street at least once a week and possibly deter thieves from coming into our city,” Councilman Johnny Khamis told the paper.
If passed, the city would likely become the first in the country to expand the law enforcement tool to another public entity besides parking enforcement.
Currently, only six San Jose Police Department cars currently have license plate readers (LPRs), but there are plans to acquire two more to cover this city of over one million people.
By contrast, the nearby city of Oakland, California, with a population of 390,000, has 33 LPRs mounted on police vehicles.
In March 2015, Ars obtained the Oakland Police Department’s 4.6 million reads of over 1.1 million unique plates, which were gathered between December 23, 2010 and May 31, 2014, as part of a public records request. The dataset showed precisely how revelatory such information can be.
The council member justified the use of LPRs with a refrain common among proponents of the technology—that people driving on public roads have no reasonable expectation of privacy.
“You’re not expecting privacy on a public street,” he added.
But, aware that privacy advocates would be scrutinizing how the data was going to be collected, he also noted the city would “talk to the [American Civil Liberties Union] before we do anything.”