The FBI has invested hundreds of thousands of dollars in license-plate reader technology, but it halted a purchase order at least temporarily after lawyers raised privacy concerns about the surveillance three years ago.
Emails and other documents obtained by The Associated Press show internal discussions over the last decade about the technology, which relies on a network of cameras to capture and store data from vehicle license plates. They indicate that the FBI sought to develop a policy governing its use.
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Law enforcement officials view the plate scanners as valuable in tracking the location and movement of suspicious vehicles. Privacy groups worry about the technology's ability to pinpoint the locations of innocent motorists.
The American Civil Liberties Union received the FBI records through a Freedom of Information Act request.