Virginia State police have recorded over 8 million images of license plates since 2010, in addition to images of every plate arriving from Virginia at the 2008 presidential inauguration, according to a Richmond Times-Dispatch report.
Police recorded the images at the inauguration, and at separate rallies several months earlier in Leesburg for Obama and Sarah Palin, at the request of the Secret Service. Automatic license plate readers have been in use for routine crime prevention purposes since 2006—but only in 2010 did state police begin storing images, for up to three years in some cases.
After Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli issued an opinion in February that the practice violated Virginia's Government Data Collection and Dissemination Practices Act, police destroyed the data, the Times-Dispatch reported.
Civil liberties groups like the ACLU have criticized the practice. In a recent report called "You Are Being Tracked," the ACLU maintained that "license plate readers can be used for tracking people’s movements for months or years on end, chilling the exercise of our cherished rights to free speech and association."
But VSP pointed to examples of crime prevention—such as in November 2009, when police arrested two people in connection to the robbery of a jewelry courier at a hotel in Prince William County.