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Privacy advocates accuse Kaiser of not following state law on license plate readers

Privacy advocates call out Kaiser over parking lot plate scanning
Privacy advocates call out Kaiser over parking lot plate scanning 03:25

SAN LEANDRO – A local privacy group accused Kaiser Permanente of violating state law with its license plate readers.

Oakland Privacy, a citizen activist group, said the Kaiser parking lots in Vallejo, Oakland, Union City, Hayward, and San Leandro have two dozen plate readers.

Privacy advocates said the issue is not the cameras, it's over Kaiser's failure to post a usage policy.

"I use Kaiser services and I enjoy them," said Kaiser member Mike Katz-Lacabe, who is also a research director for Oakland Privacy.

While he likes Kaiser, Katz-Lacabe said he doesn't like being recorded every time he goes to the San Leandro facility for a routine checkup.

"It's disappointing that an organization like Kaiser would one, not be aware of the law, and two, once made aware of the law, would not be following the law," said Katz-Lacabe.

Oakland Privacy and others helped pass Senate Bill 34, which requires companies with plate readers to post their usage policies on their websites, such as how long they keep the record and who they share the pictures with.

"They're sharing information about everybody coming and going to this facility with law enforcement," said Katz-Lacabe.

Through public records requests, Katz-Lacabe said Kaiser has shared its data with the California Highway Patrol, Vallejo, Oakland, and San Leandro police departments.

"All of that is perfectly legal, what's not legal is for them not to have a policy and not to have it prominently posted on their website," said Katz-Lacabe.

A quick search on Kaiser's website, there was nothing that talked about plate readers or a usage policy.

"I think it's digging on minor technicalities," said Kaiser member Michelle Pareja. 

Pareja said she doesn't care much about reading the policy. There are signs in the parking lot that alert people about the readers.

Having been a victim of crime, Pareja said she supported the usage of plate readers.

"In a public place, I think that it should be fine. It is good for safety," said Pareja.

Some Kaiser workers supported the cameras because they said car break-ins have gone up in the parking lot.

"I think that's great. As long as they keep us safe, it's all great," said Kaiser Dr. Nancy Xuan. 

Kaiser released a statement that read in part, "we are reviewing our practices and policies to ensure our policy and relevant information required to be provided to the public is compliant under SB 34."

A Kaiser spokeswoman later added they will post their policy by the end of this month.

"If there's a law, that law was put in place for a reason," said Cal State East Bay criminal justice professor Dr. Lisa Hill.

Hill said it was especially important for medical facilities to inform patients.

"There are HIPPA laws that say patient rights and records need to be protected. And so when you go into a Kaiser, license readers, cars are associated with people," said Hill.

As for Katz-Lacabe, he said it's about following the law.

"I think it's important that people are aware of it so they know how much is happening so we can make informed decisions about it," said Katz-Lacabe.

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