Controversy over Carlsbad's license plate readers - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

Controversy over Carlsbad's license plate readers

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CARLSBAD, Calif. (AP/CBS 8) — The city of Carlsbad is moving forward with a plan to expand the use of license plate readers in the city.

Police say they are important tools to help them keep the community safe, but some say they're an invasion of privacy.

The city of Carlsbad plans to scan the license plates of all incoming cars by placing stationary cameras at key intersections in a bid to boost public safety.

The city will spend $1 million to add cameras at 14 intersections following a spike in property crime, the San Diego Union-Tribune reported Sunday.

Statistics show that most of those crimes were committed by suspects from other cities, police Capt. Mickey Williams said.

The plan approved last week by the City Council has some residents concerned about their privacy rights, with police able to monitor where they travel throughout the city.

"We need to look at this for what it is — mass surveillance," resident Noel Breen said.

The cameras automatically recognize license plates and check them against a law enforcement database that includes information about stolen vehicles and missing people.

Any data collected will be deleted after a year unless it's part of a criminal investigation, Williams said.

Carlsbad — which has about 110,000 residents in San Diego County — isn't the only Southern California city to use the license plate readers. Many use them on a more limited basis, affixing them to patrol cars.

In nearby Orange County, Laguna Beach also has placed the cameras at key entry points to the city.

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Information from: The San Diego Union-Tribune

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