Wisconsin Bill Aims to Limit Police Use of License Plate Readers

A bipartisan group of Wisconsin politicians are
working on legislation to limit the use of automatic license plate
readers by police. Local police chiefs have voiced their
disapproval, but the politicians contend that protecting civil
liberties must take precedence.

The Wisconsin State Journal
the basic features of a new bill, which Republicans
Rep. David Craig and Sen. Tom Tiffany and Democrat Rep. Fred
Kessler (D) circulated for co-sponsorship this week:

The bill would allow the cameras to be turned on only during the
investigation of a crime. It also would prohibit sharing the stored
information with non-government entities and require data
destruction within 48 hours, unless it was necessary for a criminal

This would be a dramatic reduction of what officers are
currently allowed to do. The State Journal
earlier this year that police agencies in Dane County,
where the capital city Madison is located, used 24-hour
surveillance to record over 4 million licenses plates in 3 years.
They planned on holding onto those records for 7 years.

Local police chiefs responded critically to the bill, stating
that no civil rights violations have occurred and that limiting
their use of license plate recorders would impair their ability to
effectively solve crimes. Nevertheless, they offered this week to
limit the license plate data retention to a single year.

This is not enough for Craig, though. “Seven years is
unacceptable. One year is unacceptable,” he said to the State
, explaining that the practice is “imperiling civil
liberties. You have this technology that has been used that without
limits by the Legislature can lead to some very, very bad outcomes
for constitutional rights.” The representative told
WXOW, a local ABC affiliate, that he’s “concerned not about
criminals, I’m concerned about ‘John Q Public’ that obeys the
law and how long his information is on the books,” because
“government has the propensity to bungle personal information.”

Craig’s concerns may not be unwarranted. As Reason‘s
J.D. Tuccille and Scott Shackford have highlighted, the use of this
police technology in other states has led to behavior that ranges
to outright
. The American
Civil Liberties Union
and Electronic Frontier
have also covered the various dangers license plate
readers pose.

from Hit & Run http://reason.com/blog/2013/11/22/wisconsin-bipartisan-bill-aims-to-limit

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