License Plate Data from O.C. Shopping Centers Shared with Police

If you have parked your car at Irvine Spectrum Center, Fashion Island in Newport Beach, or The Market Place in Tustin within the last two years then your information could have been shared with some Orange County police departments. 

The Irvine Co. has been quietly using automated license plate readers at those three shopping centers and has been sharing people's information with a surveillance technology vendor that sells data to Immigration & Customs Enforcement. The cameras capture images of license plates, convert the plate into plain-text characters, and append a time, date and GPS location. 

Irvine Co. spokesman Scott Starkey said, Vigilant Solutions is "permitted to share the data it collects with Irvine, Tustin and Newport Beach police departments, but not ICE."

“We have been assured through conversations with Vigilant that only those police departments are receiving information,” Starkey added.

Mohammad Tajsar, an attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California, said the revelation is "troubling".

“It demonstrates how pervasive surveillance apparatus is in everyday life and how easy it is for government to access sensitive material about us,” Tajsar said. “Folks should be concerned because they could be ensnared in the immigration system by simply going to a shopping mall."

Southern California News Group obtained a January email from Vigilant to the Woodland Police Department that confirms the company has a contract with ICE.

Activists are certainly in fear that the database is being used to track illegal immigrants, which violates sanctuary state laws.  

Photo: Getty Images

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