Sep 072012
 
 September 7, 2012  Surveillance, U.S.

David Chanen reports:

Brooklyn Center will become the latest law enforcement agency to install squad cameras that read license plates, another tool in its effort to reduce auto thefts.

The data from the two cameras will be used by officers in real time to identify a stolen vehicle or a driver who is wanted for current criminal activity, said Police Chief Kevin Benner. After the alert, the data won’t be stored because it doesn’t serve any law enforcement purpose, he said. A camera can read hundreds of plates an hour.

Benner cited a recent Star Tribune article about the cameras’ use in Minneapolis and a call from privacy advocates for standards to govern how police classify and retain plate-reader data. Without a state law, police departments are free to set their own policies on how long they keep the information. Anybody can make a request for the data.

The State Patrol deletes location data after 48 hours, St. Paul police erase it in 14 days and Minneapolis retains it for a year.

Read more on The Star Tribune.

If anyone can make a request for the data, does that mean that a Minneapolis spouse who suspects their spouse of cheating on them can request their plate’s records? Does it mean that anyone can request the records of political protesters or activists?

The longer the data are retained and the less the restrictions on access to records, the more problematic this becomes.

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