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License Plate Reader on Police Cars Raise Privacy Concern



An increasing number of police departments across the nation are installing license plate readers on their patrol cars.

The book-sized license plate readers (LPRs) are mounted on police cars, road signs or traffic lights. The images they capture are translated into computer-readable text and compiled into a list of plate numbers, which can run into the millions. Then police compare the numbers against the license plates of stolen cars, drivers wanted on bench warrants or people involved in missing person cases.

A new report from the American Civil Liberties Union reveals the existence of technology that allows police to record the license plate of every car an officer encounters while on patrol, catalog it, and compare it to a database of suspect vehicles:

(CNN) – Police around the United States are recording the license plates of passing drivers and storing the information for years with little privacy protection, the American Civil Liberties Union said Wednesday.

The information potentially allows authorities to track the movements of everyone who drives a car.
The ACLU documented the police surveillance after reviewing 26,000 pages of material gathered through public records requests to almost 600 local and state police departments in 38 states and the District of Columbia.

Police are gathering the vehicle information with surveillance technology called automatic license plate readers, and it’s being stored — sometimes indefinitely — with few or no privacy protections, the ACLU said.

“The documents paint a startling picture of a technology deployed with too few rules that is becoming a tool for mass routine location tracking and surveillance,” the ACLU said in a written statement.

The license plate readers alert police to an automobile associated with an investigation, “but such instances account for a tiny fraction of license plate scans, and too many police departments are storing millions of records about innocent drivers,” the ACLU said.

“Private companies are also using license plate readers and sharing the information they collect with police with little or no oversight or privacy protections. A lack of regulation means that policies governing how long our location data is kept vary widely,” the ACLU said.

The civil liberties group is advocating legislation regulating the use of the technology.

License Plate Reader on Police Cars Raise Privacy Concern Reviewed by Blogs on 10:44 PM Rating: 5

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