SFO Officials Responds To License Plate Reader Concerns

SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) – San Francisco International Airport is using a video license plate reader to track commercial vehicles entering its facility and allow patrons to use Fastrak to pay for parking not to monitor cars, vans and other vehicles used by passengers, officials said Tuesday.

Airport spokesman Doug Yakel issued a statement hoping to end a growing anxiety that the cameras were tracking passengers.

“SFO does not record every license plate of every vehicle at the airport, nor do we have the capability to do so,” he said.

Yakel further said the airport uses “the Automated License Plate Reader technology to provide customers the option of paying for parking through their FasTrak accounts.”

Use of the cameras were expanded last year “to track commercial ground transportation operators for the purposes of calculating usage fees.”

However, last month the airport commission did approve sharing the data it collects in the system with the San Francisco Police Department, the San Mateo County Sheriff’s Department and the FBI.

That vote has made some travelers uncomfortable.

“I just feel like everyone is going to be on my case or I am being watched so I wouldn’t like that at all,” said traveler Lavinia Netane.

Sidney Sall, who was at the airport to pick up a passenger, agreed.

“I believe in the security of passengers and whatnot but I think that’s crossing the line,” he said.

KPIX security analyst and former FBI special agent in charge Jeff Harp said travelers really have nothing to worry about.

“It’s a public access area there is no expectation of privacy,” he said. “It would be no different than someone taking photos of a person’s license plate. It’s not illegal. They can retain it forever…If you’re not doing anything wrong, you have nothing to worry about.”

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