Customs and Border Protection Can Track Cars Nationwide Via Commercial Database

It turns out that U.S. Customs and Border Protection could now keep an eye on your car without even getting a warrant. This month, we learned that CBP bought access to a commercial license plate database, meaning the agency can look up the historical location of cars across the U.S., no legal red tape necessary.

CBP revealed the purchase in its updated Privacy Impact Assessment, which discloses that agency had been using commercially owned cameras and license plate readers since 2017, when CBP released the original assessment. “Accordingly,” it reads, “CBP is updating this PIA to provide additional notice to the public and assess the unique privacy risks associated with the use of a commercial vendor license plate database.” The update, published earlier this month, says the agency’s deal with a commercial database “provide[s] CBP law enforcement personnel with a broader ability to search license plates of interest nationwide.”