Information about you may be stored in secret national databases - Cincinnati News, FOX19-WXIX TV

Information about you may be stored in secret databases

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(FOX19) -

It's possible information about you, where you're going and places you stop, is being recorded and saved in secret national databases.

Investigators say it's a valuable tool for finding criminals and even people who don't pay their parking tickets or car payments. Privacy advocates warn to proceed with caution.

By simply passing vehicles on a highway, a city street or parking lot, car mounted cameras can record up to $3,500 license plates a minute. A computer then saves and tags the plate picture with the date, time and location it was taken.

Until Mike Katz-Lacabe requested these pictures from his local police department, he had no idea officers had stored 100 ‘plate photos' of his family's cars around town over a two-year period. He was surprised to see himself in a photo and his children in his driveway.

Who's out there scanning plates? Private companies, car repossession agents and according to a report, more than 37 percent of large law enforcement agencies across the country. Where does the information go? Some police departments keep their own plate databases. Some law enforcement agencies and repo firms send it to private companies, like MVTRAC. MVTRAC is a leading license plate photo database. It is legal to shoot and store video shot in public.

MCTRAC says it keeps its plate data indefinitely and only police and car repo companies who have passed in-depth background check can access its database. Its system ‘alerts' a user when a ‘hot listed' or ‘wanted' plate is discovered. MVTRAC says it does not sell the plate data to members of the public or marketing firms.

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