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Lawsuit alleges Sheriff’s Office violates law by sharing license plate reader data

A lawsuit filed Thursday accuses the Marin County Sheriff’s Office of endangering immigrant communities by sharing license plate and location data with federal and other outside agencies in violation of state laws.

The ACLU Foundation of Northern California and the Electronic Frontier Foundation are among those representing community activists Lisa Bennett, Tara Evans and Cesar S. Lagleva in the suit filed in Marin County Superior Court.

The plaintiffs are seeking an end to what they say is the Sheriff’s Office policy of allowing hundreds of agencies to access a database of scans from its automated license plate readers, which can be used to identify and track people.

According to the lawsuit, that policy is in violation of California’s Senate Bill 34, which limits how government agencies can share their license plate reader information, and Senate Bill 54, the state’s sanctuary law that limits use of local resources to assist federal immigration authorities.

A spokesperson for the Marin County Sheriff’s Office did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the lawsuit.

Electronic Frontier Foundation staff attorney Saira Hussain said in a news release:

“In recent years, California has enacted laws specifically to protect immigrant communities and prohibit sharing ALPR data with entities outside the state. Local police and sheriffs are not above the law and should be held accountable when they violate measures designed to protect the privacy of all Californians generally, and vulnerable communities specifically.”

The full complaint can be found online.

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