PHILADELPHIA - On May 12, 2016, the Philadelphia Police Department admitted that its officers had disguised a police surveillance van with fake “Google Streetview” decals in order to conduct surveillance using automated license plate reader (ALPR) technology.  The following statement can be attributed to Reggie Shuford, executive director of the ACLU of Pennsylvania:

“In today’s digital era, many people trust and rely on Google to make their lives easier and safeguard their communications and privacy.  By hiding mass government surveillance under a fake Google logo, the Philadelphia Police Department has further jeopardized police-community relations at a time when they are already fragile.

"Automated license plate readers (ALPRs) are an emerging technology that have been largely unregulated. Today’s revelations make it easy to see why more transparency and accountability are so badly needed.  If the police are using automated license plate readers (ALPRs) in ways that the Department believes are completely above-board, there should be no need to disguise the vans they employ to do this, or for rank-and-file officers to hide this tactic from their supervisors.”