Surveillance systems at more than 46 malls in California are capturing license plate information that is fed to Immigration and Customs Enforcement, the Electronic Frontier Foundation reported Tuesday.
One company, Irvine Company Retail Properties, operates malls all over the state using a security network called Vigilant Solutions. Vigilant shares data with hundreds of law enforcement agencies, insurance companies, and debt collectors — including ICE, which signed a contract with the security company earlier this year, reports The Verge.
Irvine Company "is putting not only immigrants at risk, but invading the privacy of its customers by allowing a third-party to hold onto their data indefinitely," EFF wrote in its report, urging the chain of malls to stop providing information to ICE.
The surveillance technology allows cameras to take images of license plates and find the time and exact location, as well as a vehicle's travel patterns. If a vehicle is flagged, operators can receive real-time alerts to the vehicle's whereabouts.
ICE says it only uses license plate data in support of investigations as allowed by the law, emphasizing that the agency "is not seeking to build a license plate reader database, and will not collect nor contribute any data to a national public or private database." Irvine Company says it is committed to "respect for individuals' privacy and civil liberties" and deletes all data once it's sent to Vigilant. Summer Meza