The Department of Homeland Security announced Wednesday it is canceling a planned program to create a national license-plate tracking database after privacy advocates raised red flags over the initiative.
Officials claimed the program, which would have gathered license plate tag numbers from passing cars and trucks using electronic scanners installed on major roads and government vehicles, was to be used to catch fugitive illegal immigrants, the Washington Post reports. Just days ago, Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the agency that hoped to deploy the program, solicited proposals from companies to build the program. But privacy advocates pointed to innocent Americans whose activities would be monitored under the plan.
In announcing cancellation of the program, ICE spokesperson Gillian Christensen said the solicitation for proposals went out without the knowledge of ICE leadership.
“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,” she said.
Catherine Crump, a staff attorney at the American Civil Liberties Union, welcomed the program’s cancelation but said the privacy concerns it raises go well beyond ICE itself. “There are many other law enforcement agencies around the country that are already accessing these vast private databases of plate data,” she said.