Skip to main content

The DEA has been spying on millions of US drivers for years

The DEA has been spying on millions of US drivers for years


It's part of a plan to build a nationwide tracking database

Share this story

The United States Justice Department is tracking millions of vehicles nationwide as part of a secret intelligence-gathering program, The Wall Street Journal reports. The surveillance program is part of the Drug Enforcement Administration's plan to build a database plotting the movements of vehicles around the country.

The program, which scans and records license plates, has been in place for years. A spokesperson for the Justice Department told the Journal that the license plate-reader program is "not new," but where it was previously used to combat drug cartels and seize valuables, it is now being used to solve criminal cases like homicide and kidnapping. DEA documents obtained by the ACLU under the Freedom of Information Act show the license plate-reader program dating back to 2008.

The program dates back to 2008

This isn't the first time the US government has spied on its citizens, but now it seems the only prerequisite for being spied on is driving a car.

Jay Stanley, a senior policy analyst at the ACLU, said of the program, "It’s unconscionable that technology with such far-reaching potential would be deployed in such secrecy. People might disagree about exactly how we should use such powerful surveillance technologies, but it should be democratically decided, it shouldn’t be done in secret."

The DEA originally began tracking vehicles near the Mexican border to staunch the flow of narcotics into the US, but has been expanding its surveillance reach throughout the country.