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February 20, 2023

The following statement is from ACLU of Virginia Senior Staff Attorney Matt Callahan:

“Mass surveillance technologies make all Virginians less free. The ones HB 1437 and SB 1165 seek to implement would allow law enforcement to use ‘automatic license plate readers’ to collect data on every car that drives by. Virginia is a driving state, and tracking where cars travel could capture which doctors, political events, and even churches Virginians visit – all without being required to have a search warrant. 

“There is little evidence this kind of surveillance reduces crime, but there is plenty of reason to expect it will replicate the same racial disparities we see in other law enforcement activities. Add to that the yet unknown financial burden of deploying these license plate readers on taxpayers, and it’s clear the costs of gathering and storing information about where Virginians travel far outweigh the benefits.  

“Police and private companies’ collection of data from every person who travels on Virginia roadways is a system of mass surveillance rife for abuse. Lawmakers are sworn to protect the lives and liberty of the people they represent – not cooperate with private companies in spying on Virginians. We urge them to oppose SB 1165 and HB 1437.”