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Should RI Regulate Automated License Plate Readers?

Privacy advocates are concerned about the technology.

An automated license plate reader. File photo.
An automated license plate reader. File photo.
State lawmakers are considering a bill that would regulate automated license plate readers.

Senate Bill 2614 would make the technology illegal, except for when it's used to:
  • Collect a toll
  • Identify a parking or traffic ticket violator
  • Identify a vehicle registered to someone with a warrant
  • Identify a vehicle related to a missing person
The American Civil Liberties Union of Rhode Island has raised privacy concerns about the technology. It said the Providence Police Department has used the automated readers.

"ALPRs are spreading rapidly around the country, but the public has little information about how they are used to track motorists’ movements, including how long data collected by ALPRs is stored, and whether police departments pool this information in state, regional or national databases," the group said in a statement.

A lobbyist for a company that makes license plate readers opposed Senate Bill 2614, arguing license plates are public property and come with no expectation of privacy, according to the Providence Journal.

The issue is not specific to Rhode Island; states across the country are deciding how to regulate the technology.

Should Rhode Island regulate automated license plate readers? Share your opinion in the comments.
Proud Resident March 22, 2014 at 06:34 AM
Great point my world (yeah right). Seriously ACLU? Where is the violation of policy? It could be a victim's stolen car. Stop protecting the criminals. If the person has everything legit then they have no problem.
B. C. March 22, 2014 at 09:05 AM
I'm not a big fan of anything that erodes personal privacy. Obviously, cameras at a toll booth to catch people in the act of breaking the law are legitimate, just as they are in banks, convenience stores, etc. But I still have an issue with the use of license plate photos that do not have matching driver photos to go with them, being used as proof of who committed a crime. Balancing the need for law enforcement and personal privacy is a tough act. The ACLU's thinking that allowing them for finding stolen cars, or missing persons, etc, while it sounds laudable and reasonable, will mean the cameras can be put anywhere and everywhere cars go. Who will make sure there is no abuse? The NSA was supposed to get warrants from the FISA court. They didn't because there was no oversight. Sure, this abrogation of privacy to have your car filmed on the way to work or buy groceries, doesn't even approach the level of the NSA spying, and there could be a nice advantage for law enforcement. But I still have misgivings on how the information might be used or abused. If someone will please publish a list of all camera locations so I don't get filmed picking my nose, I'll think about supporting it.
Al Smith March 22, 2014 at 09:54 AM
I think the bill is too restrictive. The police within strict guidelines should be able to use this tool in their work. Example: Plate observed in known drug area, and is found stopped on the side of a street in another neighborhood "talking" (most likely dealing) to someone.
my world March 22, 2014 at 10:06 PM
yea pretty soon we will have mandated asshole implants. to see when we farted so they can mail us a ticket for a smog violation!! but remember its all in the name of law enforcement,
my world March 22, 2014 at 10:13 PM
To proud resident; VICTIMS stolen car that's a hoot. I pay insurance for that reason no one is 100% legit not even you ! not cops judges or lawyers bankers priests teachers building inspectors no one !

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