SAN DIEGO (AP) — A judge on Thursday tentatively denied a technology entrepreneur's request for license plate data collected on his own vehicle from police scanners, the latest legal setback for advocates seeking more disclosure on vast networks of law enforcement cameras used to track drivers' whereabouts.
San Diego's regional planning agency can deny Michael Robertson's request under California's open records law because the records pertain to law enforcement investigations, San Diego Superior Court Judge Katherine Bacal wrote.
Robertson, a libertarian who founded and later sold the MP3.com digital music service, sued the San Diego Association of Governments last year, saying the scanners are ripe for government abuse. The San Diego Police Department, San Diego County Sheriff's Department and eight other local police departments deploy cameras and feed scans into a system that keeps records for up to two years.
The decision came less than a month after another state judge denied a request by the ACLU of Southern California and the Electronic Frontier Foundation for one week of records on all vehicles from the Los Angeles Police Department and Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department.
Robertson, 47, argued that his request raised no concerns about privacy — a common argument against releasing records — because he was only seeking information on himself, not others. But the judge didn't consider privacy and instead focused on the potential to jeopardize criminal investigations.
Bacal said releasing records would allow criminals to identify camera locations, giving them a roadmap of which streets to avoid.
Granting Robertson's request "would create a precedent that these records are available to anyone requesting their records — including the very criminals seeking to discover and exploit weaknesses in the (license plate reader) system," she wrote.
Robertson has said his records shouldn't be considered part of a law enforcement file because he isn't a criminal suspect, at least as far as he knows.
His attorney, Paul Boylan, said the tentative ruling stretches the law enforcement exemption under the California Public Records Act too far and that he would appeal if Bacal upholds her decision. She was scheduled to hear arguments Friday.
The San Diego Association of Association of Governments argued that the scanners help locate stolen cars, missing children and people wanted by police and that storing records aids investigations. The county sheriff's department alone has fed 9.8 million scans into the system since it was introduced in April 2009.
Copyright 2014 The Associated Press.
A clear and warm weekend as temperatures begin to warm. Humidity levels in the desert will gradually lower through the weekend as a weak ridge briefly builds Saturday.
San Diegans and tourists alike headed to the coast to take in all that the first day of fall has to offer.
A Navy SEAL is being held in a military brig while authorities investigate the stabbing death of an Islamic State combatant while he was subdued in Iraq last year.
A California kindergartener can keep bringing a cannabis-based drug used for emergency treatment of a rare form of epilepsy to her public school, a judge ruled Friday.
San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer signed two resolutions with Tijuana Mayor Juan Manuel Gastelum supporting international trade and border infrastructure programs.
City Attorney Mara Elliott announced that her office, in coordination with other state and city agencies, reached a $1.6 million settlement with Whole Foods Market California Inc. and two related entities resolving allegations of unlawful handling and disposal of hazardous waste and materials.
Police arrested a 32-year-old Escondido man on suspicion of murder in connection with the shooting death of an unidentified male at a bar on West Grand Avenue.
A woman was killed when she stepped out of her boyfriend's car onto a Chula Vista street and was struck by a passing vehicle, authorities said Saturday.
Residents in La Mesa’s Eastridge area are trying to solve a mystery surrounding a dinosaur. The Tyrannosaurus Rex statue appeared on an empty plot of land sometimes over the past few days with no explanation.