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License Plate Readers?

Should license plate readers be used?


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Recently there has been a lot of discussion about the license plate readers that some law enforcement agencies across the country have been using. A report was recently given by the ACLU raising concern over the number of plates read and the data retention policy of the various city police that are using them. They believe that as the time and location of the plates is registered into a database it could become possible to know a lot about the lives and habits of anyone driving a car. So my question is how do you feel about them?

Some facts about them:

-In some areas the millions of license plate captures are stored indefinitely.

-Apparently the information is also freely available to the public in some areas after public records requests. The Minnesota StarTribune was able to get information about the tracking of the Minneapolis mayor and one of their reporters.

-At this time in at least a few areas any officer can enter the license plate number of any car, whether it is on a "hot list" or not and have access to all its information.

-As of yet, the data shows that this technology has not been working as a deterrent against car thieves and other automobile crimes, although it is a relatively new technology with little public awareness. Police do claim there has been a vast increase in success rate of recovering stolen cars and solving other crimes.

-It is an automated and more efficient process of a practice that officers have been doing for years. Previously police would mark down the same information about any car they deem suspicious and later check it against a huge list of license plate numbers that the police are looking for.

-Police believe these are crucial to stopping car theft and amber alerts.

Personally, I think the technology is useful and I don't mind its use with some conditions.It is public activity they are documenting and you don't really have a reasonable expectation of privacy when driving around. It's different than the collection of private data by the NSA for example, and I believe its a crucial distinction. But I don't think any officer should be able to request data of any car that is not on some sort of "hot list" of cars the police are looking for. Police also justify the indefinite keeping of these records by saying they could potentially help stop future crimes. I don't really buy that as justification, as I think the chances of that are very small. I would advocate a short retention time or possibly even the immediate disregard of license plates not linked to a "hot list." Other than that, I believe they can be a useful tool in the recovery of stolen vehicles and the rescue of kidnapped children.What say you?

Sources:

Driving somewhere? There's a gov't record of that | Fox News
Policing advocates defend use of high-tech license plate readers - CNN.com
 

Lukas105

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No more tracking what I do and where I go. Enough is Enough.
 

Fisher

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In my area it is used for expired plates and registrations stops mostly. They usually set up shop and just let the computers do their things as the cars drive by. Even if a car hits, they still have to pull it and do all the stuff they otherwise normally would do to make sure it was a proper hit. They had a thing on local city channel that showed and explained how the whole thing works. Not that big of a deal IMO. Beside, you can tell which cars have it because of the additional gear mounted on the vehicle.
 

Mr. E

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Even private security companies have started adopting this technology.
 

Phoenix

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I think it sux but its public roads so they can do what they want.
 

iliveonramen

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I'm torn. I love the idea of it if done properly which means restrictions to how long the information is stored and it's only used to check plates against a database for hits.

You say it's not the same as the NSA but one thing the NSA has shown that if the government has information...it will use it for it's own purposes or whatever it deems as necessary, not only for it's original intent.
 

Ikari

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Recently there has been a lot of discussion about the license plate readers that some law enforcement agencies across the country have been using. A report was recently given by the ACLU raising concern over the number of plates read and the data retention policy of the various city police that are using them. They believe that as the time and location of the plates is registered into a database it could become possible to know a lot about the lives and habits of anyone driving a car. So my question is how do you feel about them?

Some facts about them:

-In some areas the millions of license plate captures are stored indefinitely.

-Apparently the information is also freely available to the public in some areas after public records requests. The Minnesota StarTribune was able to get information about the tracking of the Minneapolis mayor and one of their reporters.

-At this time in at least a few areas any officer can enter the license plate number of any car, whether it is on a "hot list" or not and have access to all its information.

-As of yet, the data shows that this technology has not been working as a deterrent against car thieves and other automobile crimes, although it is a relatively new technology with little public awareness. Police do claim there has been a vast increase in success rate of recovering stolen cars and solving other crimes.

-It is an automated and more efficient process of a practice that officers have been doing for years. Previously police would mark down the same information about any car they deem suspicious and later check it against a huge list of license plate numbers that the police are looking for.

-Police believe these are crucial to stopping car theft and amber alerts.

Personally, I think the technology is useful and I don't mind its use with some conditions.It is public activity they are documenting and you don't really have a reasonable expectation of privacy when driving around. It's different than the collection of private data by the NSA for example, and I believe its a crucial distinction. But I don't think any officer should be able to request data of any car that is not on some sort of "hot list" of cars the police are looking for. Police also justify the indefinite keeping of these records by saying they could potentially help stop future crimes. I don't really buy that as justification, as I think the chances of that are very small. I would advocate a short retention time or possibly even the immediate disregard of license plates not linked to a "hot list." Other than that, I believe they can be a useful tool in the recovery of stolen vehicles and the rescue of kidnapped children.What say you?

Sources:

Driving somewhere? There's a gov't record of that | Fox News
Policing advocates defend use of high-tech license plate readers - CNN.com

The data basing and aggregation is getting out of hand and we have no idea what they're really using it for. It is not the government's job to track our movements at all times and I say enough is enough.

No more Big Brother.
 

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I'm torn. I love the idea of it if done properly which means restrictions to how long the information is stored and it's only used to check plates against a database for hits.

You say it's not the same as the NSA but one thing the NSA has shown that if the government has information...it will use it for it's own purposes or whatever it deems as necessary, not only for it's original intent.

I agree, which is why I think it's crucial the line be drawn at public information and that there are safeguards to prevent its misuse even for public data. I think it is possible to come up with a policy for this technology that allows it to be useful without being too intrusive.
 

radcen

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I'm torn as well.

On the one hand, used properly it's just a way to identify a car with excessive unpaid parking tickets, expired registration, etc. I have no problem with their use for that... provided the information is not stored at all. Ever. Not even for an hour. ID & forget.

I would prohibit their use by private companies for commercial purposes.

ETA: The reason I'm ok with this use I list is because the corrective action still has to be done by a living breathing human officer. This makes it a different scenario than a speeding or red-light camera.
 
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I'm torn as well.

On the one hand, used properly it's just a way to identify a car with excessive unpaid parking tickets, expired registration, etc. I have no problem with their use for that... provided the information is not stored at all. Ever. Not even for an hour. ID & forget.

I would prohibit their use by private companies for commercial purposes.

That seems reasonable. I'm not really sure about making it illegal for private companies though. It doesn't seem like it should be illegal for companies to hire people to drive around and make notes of license plates by hand, and this is really just an automated way of doing that. Taking pictures and storing information. It also does some like it can be abused by them though, so I'm not entirely sure.
 

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Recently there has been a lot of discussion about the license plate readers that some law enforcement agencies across the country have been using. A report was recently given by the ACLU raising concern over the number of plates read and the data retention policy of the various city police that are using them. They believe that as the time and location of the plates is registered into a database it could become possible to know a lot about the lives and habits of anyone driving a car. So my question is how do you feel about them?

Some facts about them:

-In some areas the millions of license plate captures are stored indefinitely.

-Apparently the information is also freely available to the public in some areas after public records requests. The Minnesota StarTribune was able to get information about the tracking of the Minneapolis mayor and one of their reporters.

-At this time in at least a few areas any officer can enter the license plate number of any car, whether it is on a "hot list" or not and have access to all its information.

-As of yet, the data shows that this technology has not been working as a deterrent against car thieves and other automobile crimes, although it is a relatively new technology with little public awareness. Police do claim there has been a vast increase in success rate of recovering stolen cars and solving other crimes.

-It is an automated and more efficient process of a practice that officers have been doing for years. Previously police would mark down the same information about any car they deem suspicious and later check it against a huge list of license plate numbers that the police are looking for.

-Police believe these are crucial to stopping car theft and amber alerts.

Personally, I think the technology is useful and I don't mind its use with some conditions.It is public activity they are documenting and you don't really have a reasonable expectation of privacy when driving around. It's different than the collection of private data by the NSA for example, and I believe its a crucial distinction. But I don't think any officer should be able to request data of any car that is not on some sort of "hot list" of cars the police are looking for. Police also justify the indefinite keeping of these records by saying they could potentially help stop future crimes. I don't really buy that as justification, as I think the chances of that are very small. I would advocate a short retention time or possibly even the immediate disregard of license plates not linked to a "hot list." Other than that, I believe they can be a useful tool in the recovery of stolen vehicles and the rescue of kidnapped children.What say you?

Sources:

Driving somewhere? There's a gov't record of that | Fox News
Policing advocates defend use of high-tech license plate readers - CNN.com

I have no problem with it. I have absolutely no expectation of privacy on a public street, parked in front of my house, in my driveway, in a parking lot . . . well, I think you get the picture.

The only thing these readers can do that's invasive is to track your car's location at a particular time. Maybe. Hell, your neighbor can do that.

Quit being so damned paranoid (not the OPer) and celebrate a new crime fighting tool.
 

radcen

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I have no problem with it. I have absolutely no expectation of privacy on a public street, parked in front of my house, in my driveway, in a parking lot . . . well, I think you get the picture.

The only thing these readers can do that's invasive is to track your car's location at a particular time. Maybe. Hell, your neighbor can do that.

Quit being so damned paranoid (not the OPer) and celebrate a new crime fighting tool.

Yes, because there has never ever been a case where the "good guys" took a new crime fighting tool and abused it for their own insidious intent. :roll:
 

Fisher

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I have no problem with it. I have absolutely no expectation of privacy on a public street, parked in front of my house, in my driveway, in a parking lot . . . well, I think you get the picture.

The only thing these readers can do that's invasive is to track your car's location at a particular time. Maybe. Hell, your neighbor can do that.

Quit being so damned paranoid (not the OPer) and celebrate a new crime fighting tool.

Well, I used to wait until the day/week after my plates/sticker expired to get them renewed but not anymore (okay I still do on the sticker because it makes me feel like I am stealing a year's worth of fees over the life of a car :) )
 

DiAnna

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I've got no problem with it. We're on a public road, using taxpayer funded infrastructure, with no legal expectation of privacy. Besides, the potential for tracking crimes such as abducted children, hit and runs, stolen vehicles, kidnapping, etc., makes it an invaluable law enforcement tool.
 

Northern Light

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Just another invasive technology to strengthen the gestapo's grip on the public.

We still need police on the road because these readers can't prove that you were driving the car when an incident occurred. I know more than one person who got their tickets dismissed by saying they weren't driving the car at the time the picture was taken.
 

Fisher

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Well I have noticed that since my city started using them I seldom see as many cars just patrolling. They pick an area, set up radar and the readers and sit there yammering with each other which is fine with me since I have a tendency to do rolling stops, push the red lights, and and speed in 25 mph zones like a champ. I swear my car goes 30 mph on its own without me even touching the pedal and then when you get into the steep 25mph hilly areas around town, keeping it under 40 is work on the downhill runs.
 

jamesrage

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I say no.The government has no business spying or tracking us.
 

Carjosse

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I see no harm in it as long as the data is data is cleared after it is checked.
 

Captain Adverse

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...Personally, I think the technology is useful and I don't mind its use with some conditions...Police also justify the indefinite keeping of these records by saying they could potentially help stop future crimes. I don't really buy that as justification, as I think the chances of that are very small. I would advocate a short retention time or possibly even the immediate disregard of license plates not linked to a "hot list." Other than that, I believe they can be a useful tool in the recovery of stolen vehicles and the rescue of kidnapped children.What say you?

I say this system can easily be modified so that a license plate number is entered and no information pops up unless it is listed as a "suspect vehicle." That means either a stolen vehicle or that it is owned by someone who is wanted. If neither of those is the case, the screen should simply say "No wants or warrants" and the officer(s) should leave the vehicle alone.

There is no valid reason to maintain driver's information in any such system absent probable cause a crime has been committed.
 

Mr. E

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I say this system can easily be modified so that a license plate number is entered and no information pops up unless it is listed as a "suspect vehicle." That means either a stolen vehicle or that it is owned by someone who is wanted. If neither of those is the case, the screen should simply say "No wants or warrants" and the officer(s) should leave the vehicle alone.

There is no valid reason to maintain driver's information in any such system absent probable cause a crime has been committed.

You've never used a database...I've used similar programs (in the private industry), at this time storage is only getting cheaper. Data will never be erased and correlating data is getting easier. If you own a car, use a phone/laptop etc. you are tracked 24/7 whether you're at work (by your employer) or out in public (by gov. or employer).
 
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