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Raul Mas Canosa v. City of Coral Gables & Florida Dept. of State & Florida Dept. Law Enforcement

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Published on Sep 26, 2019

Coral Gables is an upscale, historic municipality of Miami-Dade County, Florida. Residents take pride in their tree-lined streets and so they call it “City Beautiful.” But the city has now lined the streets with Automatic License Plate Readers (ALPRs). One resident is not happy about it and is taking the city and the state government to task.

The New Civil Liberties Alliance is suing the City of Coral Gables as well as the Florida Department of State (FDOS) and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE), on behalf of long-time Coral Gables resident, Raul Mas Canosa. Mr. Mas Canosa says the city’s use of Automatic License Plate Readers, is a violation of Florida Law and Floridians’ Fourth Amendment rights to privacy.
The ALPR system tracks all vehicle traffic and stores the date for three years. It also allows law enforcement to pore over those records for security purposes, but the City has never identified a single crime that has been solved by this system.

There are currently 30 ALPRs strategically placed at nearly every major artery in the city, including I-95, scanning and recording the license plate number of every vehicle that passes, capturing the registered owner and the time, date and location of the vehicle when it was captured. To date, this single system have collected tens of millions of license plate images.

Aggregated, this data paints a revealing picture about a person. And it does so concerning the hundreds of thousands of people within the ALPR system.

FDLE and FDOS claim to have given permission for cities like Coral Gables to install their ALPR systems. But state administrative agencies cannot authorize such activity on their own initiative without formal administrative rules.

These agencies regulate through guidance, which is not how our government works. Ultimately, only Florida’s legislature has the power to approve the use of ALPRs. Allowing these agencies to police themselves subverts the democratic process entirely. Administrative entities don’t get to decide which constitutional rights Floridians may enjoy and municipalities like Coral Gables can’t hide behind big government.

More fundamentally, the city’s ALPR system purportedly authorized by FDOS and FDLE is simply unconstitutional under the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution and Article I, Section 23 of the Florida State Constitution.

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