The Guardian UK reports that UK police are keeping data on innocent individuals’ daily car trips for up to five years. The police had said they would only keep the data for two years, but revealed otherwise after Freedom of Information Act requests were filed.
The police are to expand a car surveillance operation that will allow them to record and store details of millions of daily journeys for up to five years, the Guardian has learned.
A national network of roadside cameras will be able to "read" 50m licence plates a day, enabling officers to reconstruct the journeys of motorists.
Police have been encouraged to "fully and strategically exploit" the database, which is already recording the whereabouts of 10 million drivers a day, during investigations ranging from counter-terrorism to low-level crime.
But it has raised concerns from civil rights campaigners, who question whether the details should be kept for so long, and want clearer guidance on who might have access to the material.
The project relies on automatic number plate recognition (ANPR) cameras to pinpoint the precise time and location of all vehicles on the road. Senior officers had promised the data would be stored for two years. But responding to inquiries under the Freedom of Information Act, the Home Office has admitted the data is now being kept for five years.
The technology has kept changing. Previously, surveillance cameras only recorded video. Now, "Thousands of CCTV cameras across the country have been converted to read ANPR data, capturing people’s movements in cars on motorways, main roads, airports and town centres," the Guardian UK reports.
Civil rights group Privacy International has filed a complaint with the UK Information Commissioner’s Office. The ICO said it would investigate the complaint and, "prolonged retention would need to be clearly justified based on continuing value not on the mere chance it may come in useful," reports BBC News .