WASHINGTON – Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson on Wednesday ordered the cancellation of a plan by the Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency to develop a national license plate tracking system after privacy advocates raised concerns about it.
The order came just days after ICE solicited proposals from companies to compile a database of license plate information from commercial and law enforcement tag readers. Officials said the database was intended to help apprehend fugitive illegal immigrants, but the plan raised concerns that the movements of ordinary citizens under no criminal suspicion could be scrutinized.
The data would have been drawn from readers that scan the tags of every vehicle crossing their paths, officials told the Washington Post this week.
The solicitation, which was posted without the awareness of ICE leadership, has been cancelled, ICE spokeswoman Gillian Christensen said in a statement.
The fact that the solicitation was posted without knowledge of ICE leadership highlights a serious management problem, Rep. Bennie Thompson of Mississippi, the ranking Democrat on the House Homeland Security Committee, said in a statement.
The database was to be designed to allow agents to snap a photo of a license plate, upload it to a smartphone and compare it against a hot list of plates in the database, among other features.