THE BLOG
07/25/2013 06:32 pm ET Updated Sep 24, 2013

What's the Big Deal About License Plate Readers? (Explained in 5 Minutes)

Last week, the ACLU released a groundbreaking report delving into the use of license plate readers by police departments, private companies, and the federal government. Tens of thousands of these devices are now installed across the country, with many more on the way. Unlike red-light cameras (which only fire when they detect someone running a light), these readers capture and store images of every vehicle that crosses their field of vision.

As I've told friends about this emerging surveillance technology, many have just shrugged their shoulders and said they don't really care. After all, they're not doing anything wrong.

If you feel the same, take five minutes and read through this visual explainer on the issue (produced by for ACLU by my company, Newsbound). As you'll see, the controversy isn't about whether these devices should be allowed -- it's about the handling of your location data once it's been captured. What the ACLU found is really astonishing:

The ACLU has lots more info on the topic, for those who are interested in diving deeper.

Like this format? You can check out the rest of our explainers here.