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License Plate Readers raise privacy concerns for ACLU

The American Civil Liberties Union of North Carolina Legal Foundation (ACLU-NCLF) joined 34 other state affiliates Monday in requesting detailed information from local police departments and state agencies about how they are using automatic license plate readers (ALPR).

ALPRs have been used to help police arrest people with outstanding warrants and to recover stolen cars. But the ACLU is worried about how the technology could be used, and just how long the collected data is being stored.

“Automatic license plate readers make it possible for the police to track our location whenever we drive our cars and to store that information forever,” said Catherine Crump, staff attorney with the ACLU’s Speech, Privacy & Technology Project. “The American people have a right to know whether our police departments are using these tools in a limited and responsible manner, or whether they are keeping records of our movements for months or years for no good reason.”

Chris Brook, Legal Director of the ACLU-NCLF, said in a press release that North Carolinians deserve to know how and when local law enforcement will use this technology to track their movements.

“Without proper safeguards, this technology could all too easily lead to profiling or the routine tracking of innocent people who have done nothing wrong,” said Brook.

The request for information was sent to 61 law enforcement agencies throughout North Carolina.

According to the ACLU only two states in the nation (New Hampshire and Maine) have statutes on the books to regulate how these plate readers are used.

 

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