Monday, August 19, 2013

License plate readers - how intrusive?

With all the new invasion-of-privacy worries, thanks to Edward Snowden, we should be reminded that Automated License Plate Recognition systems continue to be used, and we should be worried about how that information will be used.

A long article in yesterday's Richmond Times-Dispatch reports how the Virginia State Police recorded license plate numbers and saved them for three years.

When license plate numbers are collected, whether electronically or manually, how are they used in McHenry County?

At a recent private gathering four deputies responded after a neighbor complained. The supervisor told the three deputies to record all the license plate numbers.

Why? How was that information used? Was it? Or will it be?


Mike said...

The use of these readers isn't so much of a problem when they are simply used to check numbers, see if they are stolen or reg owner wanted etc so that proper enforcemnet can take place at the time of the reading. The idea of string info on the plate read is another matter all together.

Notawannabee said...

I must assume this was to a drinking complaint otherwise why would the neighbor complain?

For these drinking parties obviously it is to see who was there. How many fatal crashes have we had locally where it was learned the kids were at an underage drinking party prior to the crash? The investigators have to back track and try and determine where the kids were. When the cops show up there is a mad rush to get out of Dodge. Often there is property damage as people park where ever they want. I see nothing wrong recording plates and think it was a good tactic. I always carried a small cassette recorder and recited out plate numbers as I responded to in progress calls. More than once this identified our offender. By having the plates, I have caught burglars fleeing the scene and lessor crimes such as hit and run accidents.

Gus said...

Nota, thanks for your comment. I can see value in recording license plate numbers at a crime scene or enroute thereto.

In this incident, there was no crime. The neighbor's report was false and mailicious. There was no need for four deputies. The area deputy could have handled it without the assistance of another deputy or supervisor.

The supervisor's order to record license plates as they walked back to their cars was wrong.

Gus said...

By the way, it wasn't a drinking party. It was an afternoon gathering of friends and guests.

Mike said...

That kind of recording reminds me of the scene in the movie Missippi Burning where theFBI was recording plate numbers of what was in effect a lawful gathering (even though it was a Klan meeting).