An anonymous reader writes: Matt Blaze, a University of Pennsylvania computer and information science professor, discovered a SUV “tucked away in the shadows of the Philadelphia Convention Center’s tunnel” that was labeled as a Google Maps Street View car. It had two high-powered license plate reader cameras mounted on top, meaning it had to belong to a government agency. The Philadelphia Police Department had admitted it owns the truck after the report from Motherboard was published. “Unless the Philadelphia Fire Department of Streets Department are using automated license plate recognition (ALPR), this strongly suggests the city’s police department is trawling city streets under the auspices of Google while snapping thousands of license plate images per minute,” says Motherboard. ALPR can photograph thousands of license plate images per minute and track and store a person’s travel habits without a warrant. Google spokesperson Susan Cadrecha commented on the report, “We can confirm this is not a Google Maps car, and that we are currently looking into the matter.” The Philadelphia Police Department since responded to the report: “We have been informed that this unmarked vehicle belongs to the police department; however, the placement of any particular decal on the vehicle was not approved through any chain of command. With that being said, once this was brought to our attention, it was ordered that the decals be removed immediately.”

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