The U.S. Department of Justice secretly spies on millions of cars by gathering and storing information about motorists in order to build a national database to track movements, according to a new report in the Wall Street Journal.
The database was originally used by the Drug Enforcement Administration to hunt vehicles involved in drug crimes by tracking license plates, but according to the WSJ, the program expanded to hunt for criminals sought for crimes that were non-drug related.
DEA officials have been on record saying they track vehicles near the U.S.-Mexico border to help fight drug cartels, but the new revelations, according to the WSJ, show that the DoJ has been working for years to expand the database “throughout the United States.”
As a result of the expansion, state and local law enforcement officials now have access to a “wealth of information” to track motorists in real time.
These new revelations, of course, add to the ongoing public debate about the size and scope of the government’s surveillance programs and whether they infringe on privacy and civil liberties.
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