ACLU supporting new bill for license plate data

BOSTON (WWLP) — State lawmakers are proposing a bill that would limit how long law enforcement can retain license plate data; some police officials believe the law would obstruct their work.

The American Civil Liberties Union ( ACLU) is supporting a bill that would make sure license plate information isn't kept on file any longer than 48 hours.

Police officials are opposing the law, arguing that the 48 hour time limit isn't long enough to conduct an investigation. They use automatic license plate readers to gather data and cross-reference that information with stolen cars, revoked plates, sex offender registries, and terrorism watch lists. Police in 53 Massachusetts communities currently use automatic license plate readers. 

According to Wayne Sampson, exec director of Mass Chiefs of Police Assoc, “This bill is very bad for public safety in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. It puts unrealistic time restrictions on law enforcement.”

Gavi Wolfe, legal counsel for the ACLU, told 22News, “We want to make sure though that the data's that's collected about law-abiding motorists when there's no match in a system, no match to any database, that data shouldn't be retained forever.”

The ACLU says the bill allows police to ask a court for an extension if they need to store license plate data for a longer period of time.

Automatic license plate readers can capture a range of data, including GPS coordinates, date and time, photos and of course, the license plate numbers.


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