License plate readers: Where in Georgia are they being used?

Are license plate readers collecting too much data on drivers?

ATLANTA — They have become the go-to technology that law enforcement uses to solve crimes: license plate readers.

The readers scan every plate – even cars going in the opposite direction – and record the GPS location, date and time to flag stolen cars or wanted people for police.

[SPECIAL SECTION: Eyes on the Road]

Content Continues Below

"I don’t have to be constantly stuck on the computer running tags. I can let the cameras do the work for me while I can stay focused on the roads, stay focused on other people driving,” said Trooper Trey Thomas.

Channel 2 Action News worked for months to collect license plate reader – or LPR – data from more than a dozen law enforcement agencies in Georgia. The data can be stored for up to two and a half years, all linked to the seven digits on the backs of people's cars.

But while the readers can help find criminals, they also collect information on you. Critics call them a form of mass surveillance that reveals personal information about where you have been.

"The government should not be collecting information on everybody in order to go after a small portion of people,” said Dave Maas, who studies LPRs for a nonprofit privacy rights group.

READ the full story with a breakdown of all the data we've collected over the years in our special EYES ON THE ROAD section.

3D printer
3D printer