As public scrutiny continues to mount against the use of license plate readers (LPRs) across the country, the Electronic Privacy Information Center (EPIC) has now released government documents showing that such data, which includes precise GPS location, date, and timestamps, in addition to the plate in question, are shared with an auto insurance umbrella organization.
The documents, published on Tuesday as the result of a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request, include a six-page memorandum of understanding (MOU) from 2005 between the National Insurance Crime Bureau (NICB) and the United States Customs and Border Protection (CBP) agency.
The NICB is a nonprofit organization funded by hundreds of American auto insurance corporationsaround the country, which “partners with insurers and law enforcement agencies to facilitate the identification, detection, and prosecution of insurance criminals.”
Ars, as part of its recent investigation into the use of LPRs, also has a pending FOIA request with CBP, but has yet to receive a response beyond a perfunctory acknowledgement of the request.
The revelation has certainly raised some eyebrows, but the NICB now says that while insurance companies are members of the organization, they do not automatically gain access to the LPR data.
Roger Morris, the NICB’s chief communications officer, clarified by e-mail that only authorized “Special Investigations Units” personnel from NICB member companies have access to such data “for theft prevention activities.”
Every 24 hours, the NICB receives an electronic data transfer from all border stations, providing LPR details on all cars that have crossed in and out of the country.