Cops Dec 5, 2023 at 3:00 pm

If Approved, Cops—and the Public—Can Track a Car for 90 Days

Unfaithful partners of SPD cops beware, this new technology might expose you. Anthony Keo



Anyone else getting a “this form is currently not accepting responses” on the form for public comment? I can use the last link in the article to get to the page, but clicking the link to actually fill out the form doesn’t actually give me the form.


"SPD said it could not determine whether a license plate image may be involved in a criminal case within that time period. In an email to The Stranger Monday, Herbold called SPD’s response “hard to believe” given that other states and jurisdictions purge data much more quickly."

The galaxy brain thing about folks who defend SPD is that SPD's consistent response to questions from the Council - on this, on alternative response - amounts to "well, because we suck compared to other departments."


However, the government wants to tack EV cars and where they go to bill for taxes they don't get from gas tax. So there's no privacy anyway.


Anytime they tell you it's only city cameras, they forget to mention they get the free facial identification and license plate info every time you go to a County or Federal or Port facility.

So this is way more than you think it is, especially since half of Washington State is covered by Federal jurisdiction.


Oh and that includes all State and Federal freeways and ferries too.

Yes, we already have your info.


My car, my phone, and my watch are already reporting location geolocation data to the manufacturers and undisclosed third parties. An image of my license plate ending up in some police database is probably the least intrusive privacy issue I face on a day-to-day basis.


@1 and @6

Ashley here - I send an email to the City's IT Department, but for the moment if you're interested in submitting public comment I would email them at:


"Someone can request all SPD ALPR data from the last 90 days and if they know your license plate number, track your location. "

No, they can determine where your car is. Look, I get why there should be safeguards, but the biggest problem we have with cars right now is not enough of this sort of technology. Freedom loving Europe (and I mean that sincerely) tickets the fuck out of people using machines. No whining to the cop (which works much better if you are white). You get a ticket in the mail, and that's it. You want to fight it, go to court. As a result, their streets are way safer. I'm not a law and order guy -- and yes, I drive -- but we need to get over our damn selves when it comes to driving. Driving is a fucking privilege, and likely the most dangerous thing you will ever do in your life.

Now facial recognition (as Will mentioned) is a whole nother ball game. That shit is bullshit. You can't leave your face at home. It is notoriously racist. But cars (like guns) need to be treated like the dangerous things they are.


@3- the state already taxes EVs on a flat rate basis. There are proposals to replace the gas tax with a per-mile fee but that would be for all cars as far as I know.


Nice article thanks!

I understand the value from SPD point of view, but stronger safeguards and systems need to be in place to protect this data.


@9 Travel is freedom. Travel is akin to association. Anonymous travel is freedom.

Btw, The exhortation "Look" is not a good look in communication. It's patronizing and supercilious.


Is it Seattle's karma that gives it a rogue and authoritarian cop shop?


@12: Look — and I’m looking at you, so, look, already — there is no expectation of privacy in public spaces. Why? Because when you’re in public spaces, other people can LOOK at you whenever they want to look at you. So no, you have no inherent right to travel in public spaces — or to do anything else in public spaces, for that matter — anonymously. (Look, that’s why it’s called “privacy,” not “publicy”.)

@13: I boldly predict extensive use of this technology will allow SPD to solve more crimes, and may even help them respond more quickly to time-sensitive matters, such as Amber Alerts. I also predict Seattle will pay millions of dollars in lawsuits stemming from SPD officers blatantly abusing this technology.


Solve more crimes?


Police have been solving fewer crimes for decades.

It's not going to "solve more crimes".



‘It's not going to "solve more crimes".’


“…will allow SPD to solve more crimes…”

You’re welcome.


@15 the police just nabbed a teenage serial car thief and armed robber using cell phone data linking him to the locations of each crime.
seems to me license plate scanners would be a lot faster than going to the cell phone company and sifting through all that data and whatever else is involved with that investigation and, you know, crime solving.
read about it at west seattle blog.


driving is yet a privilege.

Please wait...

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