Saturday, January 26, 2013

Vermont Bill Targets License Plate Readers | Valley News

Vermont Bill Targets License Plate Readers | Valley News:

  Lawmakers are considering limiting the amount of time that police in Vermont can store information compiled by automatic license plate readers that have the ability to gather troves of information about the whereabouts of vehicles .
State Sen. Tim Ashe, a Democrat/Progressive from Burlington, has introduced a bill that would require police to delete electronic data collected by automatic license plate readers after six months. Information from the devices, which can scan thousands of license plates per hour, is currently stored tin a law enforcement database for four years. The Senate Transportation Committee is scheduled to take testimony on the bill this morning.
More than 30 law enforcement agencies across the state have deployed the readers in recent years, with much of the money to buy them coming from grants. In the Upper Valley, police in Hartford and Springfield, Vt., and the sheriff’s departments in Windsor and Orange counties use the scanners.
“It allows for the retention of information collected by the readers only for the amount of time that they are legitimately needed for law enforcement purposes,” Ashe said in discussing the need for the legislation. “Should the government be making a file, even if not directly, that could tell people where you’ve been on a Sunday night? They’re collecting and storing a lot of information that has nothing to do with police activities, and could be creepy for people.”
Ashe said that six months is the average length of time for the judicial system to handle a traffic court case and potential appeals.
Police say the electronic plate readers are an efficient tool that can help them identify and apprehend criminals and retroactively gather evidence on criminal suspects.
Privacy advocates are concerned that police could exploit the trove of information without warrants. Four years of data, they say, could essentially provide a detailed map of a driver’s movements and could be easily abused.
Citing privacy concerns, Norwich Town Manager Neil Fulton last year declined a federal grant to purchase a plater reader for his town’s police department .
“We’re really glad a bill has been introduced and hope there will be a serious discussion about (the readers) and ... limits on government practices that we think need limiting,” said Vermont ACLU Executive Director Allen Gilbert. “The retention time is what we have the most concern about. (Four) years is an outlier of enormous proportions. There is no reason police should be gathering information on drivers who are not suspected of any crimes and happened to be captured by one of the (readers) around the state.”
New Hampshire passed a law that all but forbade law enforcement from using the plate readers. There are exemptions, however, for monitoring bridges and other infrastructure.
It is unclear how Vermont law enforcement will react to the bill.
Keith Flynn, commissioner of the Vermont Department of Public Safety, said that police acknowledge the need to properly manage the data.
“The department recognizes the need for governance as it relates to policies for automatic license plate readers including retention of information, maintenance of records, and audits of information received and dispensed,” Flynn said in a written statement. “We look forward to being part of the discussion with the Legislature about this important law enforcement tool.”
The readers were introduced in Vermont in 2008 with almost no public notice. It was only after the ACLU, along with its state chapters, filed a request for law enforcement records around the country last year that the scope of the plate readers’ data collection became apparent.
Ashe, the state senator, said he became attuned to the issue when he learned of the ACLU’s efforts. While he said a limit on data storage established by lawmakers is a possibility, Ashe said his initial goal was to spark debate .
His bill allows for prosecutors to obtain a court order in order to retain specific information collected by a plate readers if they can show cause.
“This is an issue that the Legislature hasn’t had a role in,” Ashe said. “I think it’s hard to deny that the Legislature should put a stamp of approval, or not, on the practices being conducted by the Department of Public Safety.”
The bill will start in the Senate Transportation Committee, and then likely be considered in the Senate Judiciary Committee. (Ashe is a member of the Judiciary Committee.)
The information captured by plate readers in the state is sent to the Vermont Fusion Center in Williston, Vt., which is overseen by the Vermont State Police. The federal government also has access to the data, the ACLU said, though the extent of federal involvement and retention is unclear.
“If the legislative process determines that the information is being subsequently transmitted to a national database, then that’s something we will try to address,” Ashe said.
Mark Davis can be reached at or 603-727-3304.

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Automatic License Plate Readers Are Quietly Checking Out Your Vehicle | NBC 4i

Automatic License Plate Readers Are Quietly Checking Out Your Vehicle | NBC 4i:

Since 2004, The Ohio State Highway Patrol has checked millions of vehicles and 

made more than 220 criminal cases, using 11 fixed Automatic License Plate Readers on Ohio's turnpike and nine mobile units mounted on state cruisers.
"We are not against license plate readers per se; there are good things that can come from their use. The problem is that there are no standards out there," said Gary Daniels, Associate Director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Ohio.
The ACLU filed public records request nationwide looking for how many readers are being used, how long the data gathered is kept and who it is shared with.
"We found it is like the Wild West out there." There is nothing constricting law enforcement except for individual department rules and regulations regarding the use of this technology," Daniels said.
An Ohio State Highway Patrol Spokesperson said only data connected to criminal cases are kept for prosecution. "If it is a clean license plate with no hits, no wants or warrants, stolen vehicle, stolen license plate, that information is automatically deleted," said Lt. Anne Ralston.
The Franklin County Sheriff's Office which maintains data for 15 surrounding counties has a similar policy, except the data is kept for 90 days, then purged.
"The information is looking for basically terrorist, stolen cars, people with warrants on them and things of that nature so, as far as your average citizen driving down the road there is no reason for them to be concerned about the data," said Sheriff Zach Scott.
"Can't we have some sort of state law that balances the use of this technology vs. the privacy instances of Ohioans?" said Daniels.
He said the ACLU is looking for some common sense regulations at the state and federal levels.
"It's ok for citizens to ask questions about what we are doing with the information. The OSP takes great steps to protect people’s privacy," said Lt. Ralston.

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Thursday, January 24, 2013

FBI responds to ACLU with blank pages -

FBI responds to ACLU with blank pages -

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Tickle The Wire » ACLU Lashes Out at FBI for Refusing to Release Details of Warrantless GPS Spying

Tickle The Wire » ACLU Lashes Out at FBI for Refusing to Release Details of Warrantless GPS Spying:

Steve Neavling
The ACLU is incensed that the FBI won’t hand over details of how agents have used warrantless GPS trackers on cars to monitor suspects, {Cecil} (Salon is a FAR Left org) reports.
Responding to a request for public information, the FBI redacted virtually every word from the records, saying the information is privileged, reports.
The ACLU wants to see other tracking methods used by federal agents following a Supreme Court ruling that determined GPS trackers require a search warrant. The group also wants to know how the FBI plans to retrieve GPS trackers already on cars.
“The Justice Department’s unfortunate decision leaves Americans with no clear understanding of when we will be subjected to tracking—possibly for months at a time—or whether the government will first get a warrant,” wrote Catherine Crump, an ACLU staff attorney.

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License Plate Readers Raise Privacy Concerns « CBS Dallas / Fort Worth

License Plate Readers Raise Privacy Concerns « CBS Dallas / Fort Worth:

ARLINGTON (CBSDFW.COM) - They’re becoming a popular tool among law enforcement in North Texas, but automated license plate readers come with their critics.

Earlier this month, the Dallas City Council approved a contract to buy 28 license plate readers for the police department.

The Arlington Police Department has had the readers on five patrol vehicles for nearly two years. The department was one of the first in the state to use the controversial readers.
With four cameras mounted on top of a patrol vehicle, the readers are designed to scan thousands of license plates instantly alerting officers of stolen vehicles and fugitives.

The Arlington Police Department said it has also found the readers to be helpful in investigations since every license plate scanned, along with where and when the picture was taken, is storied in a giant database.

“If there’s an investigation and a detective needs further information and he believes this individual was at this certain place at this certain time, then we can go back and search for that,” Arlington police officer Ray Morales.

However, Kurt Schwarz, the president of the Texas American Civil Liberties Union said he sees storing the information collected as “problematic.”
“This would be the government collecting on a massive scale what I believe most people would consider private information. Where you are at any given time? Who you are seeing? Who are you associating with?” he explained.
The Arlington Police Department said it does not do random searches and only stores the information for a year.

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Sunday, January 20, 2013

Somerville aldermen concerned about license plate recognition system - Somerville, Massachusetts 02144 - Somerville Journal

Somerville aldermen concerned about license plate recognition system - Somerville, Massachusetts 02144 - Somerville Journal:

Concerned about the police department using an automated license plate recognition system, Ward 6 Alderman Rebekah Gewirtz put in two orders asking the city solicitor prepare an ordinance or policy to govern the use of this system and asking that the police chief appear in the Committee on Public Health and Safety to report on the devices as used by the police department.
“The concern here is what’s happening with the data and that’s the concern I’ve had with cameras as well,” she said. “I believe people have a right to some expectation of privacy in public places.”
The system is being added to new police cars and is not being used yet but Gewirtz believes the discussion is important for people to understand how it works and for the police department to get some guidance on its use from the board.
Connolly echoed her concern about the information gathered and what would be done with the database of information gathered by these readers.
“I have heard it’s a very effective crime deterrent,” he said. “But we want to make sure that that’s what it’s used for and not for any subversive method.”
The item will be further discussed in committee.

Read more: Somerville aldermen concerned about license plate recognition system - Somerville, Massachusetts 02144 - Somerville Journal

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License-plate information should be public -

License-plate information should be public -

Q: Some time ago a car was parked for several weeks in line with our driveway on a narrow street. Though parked legally as far as we knew, this posed a hazard, and safer places were available nearby. I called the Allentown police to ask if they could identify the owner from the license plate, so that I could call the person to ask that the car be moved. The police were very nice, and said they'd send an officer to see if the car was parked legally, but added that they are not allowed to provide information obtained from 'running the plate.' I think that's a silly provision in light of all the 'right to know' legislation. License plates are issued by the state, and there is no reason to keep registrants' names secret. It costs money to dispatch police for a service I could provide as a common courtesy. Assuming this policy is state law, whom should I contact to suggest a change?
— Arthur Weinrach, Allentown
 A: In a culture where "road rage" is a familiar phrase, there's good reason to shield driver's license and vehicle registration information from ready public access. It would be too easy for anyone to identify and find a driver to retaliate for a violation of motoring etiquette, real or imagined. Even apart from roadway disputes, personal information from PennDOT could be used to help track down domestic violence or other targets.

When we discussed this by phone recently, you agreed that it's reasonable to protect this kind of information, Arthur. You also said your parked car problem turned out to be temporary and was amicably resolved.
In addition to regulations in Pennsylvania and other states, federal law strictly controls the use of private information contained in motor vehicle records. The federal Driver's Privacy Protection Act was prompted by the 1989 killing of television star Rebecca Schaeffer. The man who killed the actress got her address from a private investigator who'd obtained the information from California license records.
The law prohibits states and their employees from releasing names, addresses, phone numbers, Social Security numbers and photographs from motor vehicle records without the subject's consent. When South Carolina challenged the law as a violation of states' rights, the U.S. Supreme Court not only upheld it, but did so in a rare unanimous decision in January 2000.
What fired up my engine regarding this issue was a recent report on the NPR radio program "On the Media" in which Minneapolis Star-Tribune reporter Eric Roper discussed his August story revealing that city police used automatic license plate recognition technology to scan nearly 5 million plates during the first seven months of 2012, including Roper's personal plate seven times. The records indicated when he drove to work one morning, when he went home in the evening, even when and where he parked several times late at night at a friend's house.
How did Roper know all this? He filed a request for his own plate's information under Minnesota's open-records law, and police provided it. Roper was given only the times and locations of his license being captured by the scanners, and no personal information — name, address, or anything else. In Minnesota, you need to request data on specific license numbers, and will obtain times and locations at which the camera "saw" those plates. You can't simply ask, "Where has Jane Doe's car been for the past three days?"
Still, someone could discover the residence of an ex-spouse, for example, simply by knowing the person's car routinely is parked at a specific address. The American Civil Liberties Union and other privacy advocates are concerned, chiefly because police gather information on all motorists, not just those legitimately suspected of criminal activity, and because there are few controls on how long the data can be stored. "While we don't know the full extent of this problem, we know that responsible deletion of data is the exception, not the norm," the ACLU wrote in a July editorial.
"The places you go say a lot about who you are," an ACLU staff attorney added on the organization's website. "If the government knows where you shop, where you worship, who you visit, and where you go to the doctor, it can put together a picture of your entire life." Maine and New Hampshire have imposed time limits on data storage, and the ACLU urges other states to map a similar course.
In Pennsylvania, police are forbidden from releasing personal information from PennDOT's database or from criminal records, regardless of how the data are collected, said state police spokesman Trooper Adam Reed. "We have to sign privacy documents … [indicating] that we can't disclose information" other than for legitimate law enforcement purposes, whether from a license plate reader or from running a driver's record at a routine traffic stop, Reed said.
Twenty-five license plate readers on loan from the Pennsylvania Auto Theft Prevention Authority were installed on state police cars across Pennsylvania, including two from the Bethlehem barracks, from 2009 until early last year, when they were returned to the authority for use at the local level, state police Lt. Jeffrey Hopkins said. The results were unimpressive. For example, of 3.3 million plates scanned in 2011, only 30 stolen vehicles were identified. Hopkins said state police have no plans to acquire readers of their own. Regarding the ACLU's concern about lengthy information retention, state police deleted the data at the end of every work shift, he said.
The systems also are used for parking enforcement, including in Allentown. The city Parking Authority's cameras are tailored specifically to recognize parked vehicles that have overstayed their welcome in limited-time zones. A camera on a roving authority vehicle records a parked car's license and location, and the time, and if the vehicle exceeds the time limit as detected in a subsequent pass by the authority car, the computer alerts the driver and a citation is written. The system replaces the old procedure of marking the tires with chalk.
However, the authority's license readers are not linked to police or PennDOT databases, Executive Director Tamara Dolan said. The officers who write tickets don't even know the identities of the vehicle owners. Fewer than 10 of the authority's 38 employees have access to vehicle registration information, and they sign security breach waivers and are fully informed of their duty to protect private information, Dolan said: "We're really strict on protecting the privacy of vehicle owners and their registration information."
Road Warrior appears Mondays and Fridays, and the Warrior blogs at Email questions about roadways, traffic and transportation, with your name and the municipality where you live, to, or write to Road Warrior, Box 1260, Allentown, PA 18105-1260.

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Saturday, January 19, 2013

License plate reader boon for SGPD

License plate reader boon for SGPD | The Spectrum |

In 18 months, St. George Police Officer Tyrell Bangerter has issued more than 400 tickets to uninsured motorists in the city with the help of the department’s automated license plate recognition system.

Bangerter said he came across the system while researching new technology for motor vehicle enforcement. Police agencies in northern Utah referred the officer to the Motor Vehicle Enforcement Division, who then came to St. George and presented the information and trained officers how to use the system.

Chief Marlon Stratton said the ALPR is a device with both digital and infrared cameras that take photos of license plates as Bangerter patrols in his vehicle. The photos are sent to a computer installed in the car.

“The computer in the back actually translates what it sees into letters and numbers, and it simply checks it against a list,” Bangerter said. “If that plate sequence is anywhere on my lists, it immediately tells me.”

The lists are spreadsheets uploaded to the computer each day of license plates that are flagged for driving with no insurance, driving on a revoked registration, Amber Alerts, felony warrants, stolen vehicles and stolen license plates.

“When you look back in the history of law enforcement, if we were looking for particular vehicles, we had a hot sheet and we’d have sheets and sheets that we’d have to flip through to identify these different vehicles,” Stratton said. “With this technology, this automated license plate reader just simply does what an officer used to have to do, only it does it very quickly, and it will scan the license plate to alert us if there’s a problem with that license plate.”

Sgt. Craig Harding said the ALPR does not gather personal information about an individual who owns the vehicle. In order for an officer to obtain personal information about the driver or the owner of the vehicle, the officer would have to call in to dispatch or run a security check on a driver’s license.

“The only information that’s included on the hit is the year of the vehicle, the make, the model, the color, the state and what database it’s on,” Bangerter said.
Uninsured motorists are the most-common violation, Stratton said, and the database assists the officers in taking a proactive approach to take uninsured motorists off city streets.
“I feel it’s a very important tool for us to be able to identify those out there that are driving with insurance,” Stratton said. “It’s not like, ‘Well, my insurance expired yesterday and so now I show up on the list.’ They’ve been without insurance for quite some time before it will come to our attention through this license plate reader.”

Bangerter said he has pulled one local woman over and impounded her vehicle five times in the past 18 months for driving with no insurance.

“They just refuse to get insurance,” Stratton said.

Harding said the SGPD traffic unit looks for potential causes of car crashes, injuries and property damage by using tools such as the ALPR.

“I believe our citizens want us to be out there being proactive and taking uninsured motorists off the road,” Stratton said. “I bet you every single one of us has someone we know that has been in an accident with someone who has no insurance. It’s a nightmare.”

During a given shift, Bangerter has impounded up to eight vehicles. Harding said the SGPD traffic unit is looking to train other officers to use the ALPR system.
“The only way to increase our ability to take uninsured motorists off the street would be to get another system,” Harding said.

Stratton said his department is considering getting another ALPR system in the future after the “success” of the equipment.

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Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Is the NSA spying on you?

Is the NSA spying on you? - Tips, Reviews and Advice on All Things Digital - The Kim Komando Radio Show:

 "If the NSA did want to grab information from U.S. citizens, however, it wouldn't be hard. It just needs some packet sniffers tied into major Internet providers. According to some reports, it already has those. Plus, it's already set up for wiretapping domestic phone calls.

On the plus side, the NSA wouldn't necessarily be targeting you specifically. Your information would be just a small drop in the raging torrent of information."

CECIL- ALPR wouldn't necessarily be targeting you specifically.
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Friday, January 11, 2013

Court Rejecting Texas Student's Opposition To RFID Tracker Not As Outrageous As It Seems - Forbes

Court Rejecting Texas Student's Opposition To RFID Tracker Not As Outrageous As It Seems - Forbes:

This works until 'smart' kids figure out the trick of trading badges
The privacy community is up in arms this week about Texas student Andrea Hernandez “losing” a lawsuit which challenges her school district’s RFID-enabled “ student locator” program. She objected to John Jay School requiring students to wear ID badges with an RFID chip that allows them to be tracked at all times. It sounds like the legal thriller sequel to Cory Doctorow’sLittle Brother at first glance, but it’s not. The facts in the case are more complicated meaning that questions of privacy and whether students should be tagged and tracked like research animals aren’t being addressed by the court.
First off, Hernandez has not actually lost her case; it’s ongoing. A ruling from the West District of Texas Tuesday simply means that Hernandez can’t stay in the school sans badge while the case is ongoing, and will have to return to the non-magnet school that isn’t part of the “Student Locator” program. That may sound awful, but John Jay School has, in the judge’s opinion, done its best to accommodate Hernandez’s objections to the RFID chip in her badge by, primarily, offering to give her a badge without an RFID chip in it. She says that’s not good enough. Her lawyer, John Whitehead of the Rutherford Institute, plans to appeal the judge’s ruling to the Fifth Circuit.
Hernandez originally objected to the badge for privacy reasons — no one wants their teachers to know exactly how much time they spend in the bathroom — and for religious reasons — there’s a “Mark of the Beast” passage in the Bible which warns against letting the authorities mark every man with a number.  (Time to renounce the Social Security system, y’all!) The privacy objections got thrown out the window fairly early on because the school offered to snip the chip. That’s a shame as there’s certainly a national debate that should take place about whether kids should be tracked this closely in schools. Unfortunately, that’s not the debate being had here.
Hernandez previously carried an ID badge around in the pre-RFID days, but refuses to do so now because she argues that it makes it appear that she supports the tracking program. “ She would not object to a regular ID,” says her lawyer John Whitehead. “But she doesn’t want a location badge that looks like everyone else’s but doesn’t have a chip.”
Judge Orlando Garcia wasn’t sympathetic to that line of reasoning. From his opinion:
[Hernandez] and her father have publicly voiced their objection to the entire pilot program, and her father believes that wearing the student ID badge without a chip would give the appearance of acquiescence. Mr. Hernandez testified that A.H.’s acceptance of the accommodation would “put a smiley face” on the pilot program. It would “make a statement that A.H. fell in line to support the program” and he would “look like a fool.” The First Amendment does not protect such concerns.
Unfortunately, the founding fathers left the “right to freedom from being played like a fool” out of the Constitution.
Hernandez’s arguments are not limited to religious and speech ones. She also says the school has segregated her due to her refusal to embrace the Beast badge. Whitehead says she was unable to vote for prom king and queen without the badge and is segregated in the lunch line — presumably because she has to go to a different register to pay in cash rather than by flashing her Beast mark. The judge doesn’t see that as a violation of equal protection; instead he lectures Hernandez on the privacy-convenience tradeoff:
[T]he District’s accommodation to remove the chip from the badge would remove Plaintiffs religious objection and enable her to remain on campus just like all other students. Because Plaintiff refuses to carry the Smart ID badge, she has to stand in a different lunch line for those who are not carrying their Smart card and must pay for lunch by other means. Plaintiff also alleges that she was questioned about her badge when she checked out a library book, and that she was unable to vote for the homecoming king and queen. Because the campus is now equipped for Smart cards, Plaintiff may be inconvenienced. But the inconvenience is the result of Plaintiffs own decision to refuse the Smart card. It is not the result of any action by the District, nor does it rise to the level of a constitutional violation.
So what this basically boils down to is whether the school’s decision to give her a chip-less badge as an opt-out is a reasonable accommodation. This judge has decided it is. But the case is not over yet.
“I think this case is important because these programs are spreading around the country and she just wants the right to opt out,” says Whitehead.
But hasn’t the school given her an opt-out in the form of a chip-less badge?
“It’s hard to understand if you’re not religious,” says Whitehead. “The family sees this as a satanic program, and they don’t want to be involved with it.”
I guess they won’t be going on any family vacations to Disney World.


Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Gazette.Net: Rockville reviews policy on license plate readers

Gazette.Net: Rockville reviews policy on license plate readers:

A new technology allows police to quickly run license plates from passing cars, but some officials and activists say cities should think again about how the data might be used.
The license plate readers, or LPRs, automatically scan the license plates on passing cars and check them against lists of stolen cars, Amber Alerts or outstanding warrants. Some area law enforcement agencies store the data they collect through LPRs, generally for a month or a year, although retention policies vary by jurisdiction.
Rockville City Council member Tom Moore said the scanning devices did not get a lot of policy attention when they first arrived. Now, he thinks the Mayor and Council need to discuss how to handle the information they collect.
“These things are popping up all over the place,” he said. “There are a lot of national security grants throwing these things out to local departments.”
In February, The Gazette reported that there were 36 LPRs on squad cars in Montgomery County, including three operated by Rockville police. Rockville’s LPRs hold their data for 30 days, then automatically delete it, according to an August memo from the Rockville police chief. The information from Rockville’s LPRs also goes into a server operated by Montgomery County police, which then passes it on to the Maryland Coordination and Analysis Center, a joint initiative comprised of partners in federal, state and local agencies.
MCAC purges its LPR data after one year, unless it has reason to believe the data will become evidence, according to the memo. Montgomery County is reviewing its retention policy, but preliminary recommendations include keeping LPR data online for one year, then archiving it offline, the memo said, and only allowing law enforcement access to the data.
Moore takes issue with the practice of keeping records from the devices indefinitely.
“We don’t keep permanent locational records of people who haven’t done anything wrong or aren’t suspected of doing anything wrong,” he said.
Moore said Rockville is not under any obligation to share data or images from LPRs with the county. Although he wants to hear from privacy advocates and police before proposing a policy for the city, he said he is concerned about the county’s practice of keeping archived LPR records indefinitely.
“The only way to make sure that this data is not misused in the future is if it’s not there,” he said.
Rockville City Manager Barb Matthews formerly served as city manager of Takoma Park, which does not share data from its LPRs with other agencies. During her time there, Matthews said, she and the city’s police chief recommended not sharing the information it collected with the state.
She said Takoma Park’s situation is a bit different from Rockville’s, as county police do not operate in Takoma Park.
Matthews said storing information from license plate readers for 30 days, like Takoma Park does, can help police identify patterns in a series of burglaries and car break-ins.
“I think it’s a wonderful technology that has a lot of benefits to any law enforcement agency,” she said. How long to store the information and who gets access to it are policy questions that the Mayor and Council handle, however.
Rockville Chief of Police Terry Treschuk also said the Mayor and Council will review and set an LPR data retention policy. Overall, he said, LPRs benefit law enforcement agencies, and he thinks MCAC has a good policy for how it handles LPR data.
“I think the LPRs are a great benefit to law enforcement,” he said. “I think we are part of a regional effort.”
Treschuk said his department is compiling statistics on how many arrests or citations LPRs have led to in preparation for a future Mayor and Council briefing.
In July, the American Civil Liberties Union sent public information requests to law enforcement agencies in 38 states, including Maryland, seeking information on how they use LPRs. David Rocah, staff attorney for the ACLU of Maryland, said since LPRs are a relatively new technology, lawmakers need to address how to protect people’s privacy.
“There is a lack of privacy protections written into existing law that govern this kind of data, and that’s a significant problem,” he said.
Rocah said officers only need to store data from LPRs for a few seconds in order to run plate numbers against existing databases. That technology helps law enforcement by augmenting officers’ own eyes and speeding up the process of running plates, he said.
However, as prices rapidly decrease for readers and data storage, Rocah said, agencies will be able to store vast amounts of detailed data indefinitely, giving them a detailed picture of who is where and when.
“That’s data that the government frankly has no business having absent individualized suspicion,” Rocah said.
Matthews said she anticipates that the Rockville Mayor and Council will discuss how the city uses license plate readers at the end of February.

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Sunday, January 6, 2013

Dallas City Council set to approve purchase of license plate readers as part of high-tech crime fighting efforts

Dallas City Council set to approve purchase of license plate readers as part of high-tech crime fighting efforts

Car thieves and other scofflaws beware: Dallas is about to go high tech with its license plate reading technology.
On Wednesday, the Dallas City Council is likely to approve a contract to buy automated license plate readers for the Dallas Police Department.
The vote would authorize the initial purchase of 28 license plate readers at a cost of about $603,000, a five-year service contract for about $146,470 and allow the purchase of additional cameras in future years.
License plate readers “will allow law enforcement officers to patrol daily with the benefit of license plate reading in real time,” First Assistant City Manager A.C. Gonzalez wrote in a memo to the city council members.
Once a license plate is read, the systems can check various law enforcement databases to see if the vehicle is stolen or determine if the registered owner is wanted.
“Many stolen vehicles have been recovered using this technology and the technology can be used as an investigative tool to aid in solving crimes that are more serious,” Gonzalez wrote.
To begin with, police plan to install 14 of the devices in patrol cars and mount another 14 at various sites throughout the city. The initial devices are being paid for through a combination of confiscated funds and donations from philanthropic organizations.
Police expect to buy a total of 140 license plate readers over the next five years.
The plan to buy license plate readers is a part of a larger effort underway to equip each of the city’s 27 hot spots with bait cars, surveillance cameras and license plate readers. Collectively, those areas account for about 40 percent of the city’s crime and about 6 percent of the geography.
Police officials have previously estimated the cost to be $300,000 per hot spot.
In September, 7-Eleven kicked in $300,000 to pay for high-tech gear to go in around Ross Avenue and Bennett Avenue in Old East Dallas and the Five Points area in northeast Dallas.
Safer Dallas, Better Dallas has been leading the effort to raise $3 million for the project.
You can follow Tanya Eiserer on Twitter at @tanyaeiserer.

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Friday, January 4, 2013

Bill Would Ban Automatic License Plate Readers in SC |

Bill Would Ban Automatic License Plate Readers in SC |

 Bill Would Ban Automatic License Plate Readers in SC |
By Robert Kittle
A bill prefiled in the South Carolina House would ban law enforcement agencies from using automatic license plate reader systems, which allow them to constantly photograph and run computer checks on the license plates of the vehicles around them.

"We don't need more government in our lives," says Rep. Todd Rutherford, D-Columbia, who prefiled the bill. State lawmakers go into session Tuesday, January 8th.

He says the automatic license plate readers store data on cars and where they are at a given time, so they could be used to track someone throughout the day.

"Can government also take that information and sell it? Is the government going to protect it the way they did our tax information? Are they going to do a better job of it? And until we decipher all of those issues, the best thing is to just ban it and let's figure out how we're going to get the information and what to do with the information once we collect it," Rutherford says.

The systems consist of several cameras mounted on patrol cars. Those cameras constantly take pictures of the license plates and backs of vehicles that are passing the patrol car, or that the patrol car passes when it goes by parked cars. The license plates are then checked for outstanding warrants, against stolen vehicle and license plate databases and to make sure that the tag matches the vehicle.

The Spartanburg Public Safety Department has two systems, which it bought using federal grant money. Spokesperson Capt. Regina Nowak says the department doesn't have enough cameras, people or time to track people's whereabouts even if they wanted to, but the systems are useful for finding stolen vehicles and tags. The agency does not store the data it collects, but sends it to the State Law Enforcement Division.

Sig Phinney, coordinator of the state Automatic License Plate Recognition program at SLED, says the agency limits access to the data to only accredited law enforcement agencies and only for specific reasons.

'via Blog this'