A large tide of anti-LPR legislation has swept across the United States, prompted by fear tactics and misleading rhetoric from the media and the ACLU that license plate recognition invades privacy. Over twenty states in the U.S. have proposed legislation that limits law enforcement’s abilities to use LPR technology and/or data. Utah, in fact, had passed a law that banned the private, commercial use of the technology. But, the tide is turning.
Aided largely by its customer base of over 30,000 sworn in the U.S. alone, I am proud to say that Vigilant Solutions and Digital Recognition Network (DRN) have taken very active roles in many of these states to combat these proposed bills, and we are proud that these messages are being heard and are having an impact. As an example, Utah has now amended its law to allow for the private and commercial use of license plate recognition, and a number of other states have either amended their proposed bills or voted to study them for an additional year to make an informed decision after understanding all of the issues.
In summary, the efforts have been to engage local and state agencies, their respective associations, and even our competition, to build a consolidated voice of opposition, and to educate everyone (media, legislators, public) on the facts concerning LPR. LPR is anonymous data – if provided a license plate number (not part of a criminal investigation), there is no way of providing the name of the registered owner without violating a Federal law known as the Driver’s Privacy Protection Act (DPPA) which governs the permissible use of Department of Motor Vehicle (DMV) vehicle registration data. In addition to LPR being anonymous data, the image capture of a license plate (whose primary purpose is for law enforcement’s identification of a vehicle) in a public place is fully protected and upheld by numerous courts (and ironically the ACLU) – there is no reasonable expectation of privacy in a public place. For a complete understanding of the myths versus the facts of LPR, visit http://www.lprfacts.com.
Is a large amount of LPR data being collected and aggregated for law enforcement’s use? – yes. Is this data well protected by federal law, agency policy, and software access control provisions? – yes. Is the data helping to solve major crimes such as child abductions, homicides, narcotics trafficking, and rape? – yes. Is historical data being used to solve cold cases and pattern crimes occurring over several years? – yes. Is the data helping to bring dangerous fugitives to justice? – yes. Is the data saving civilian lives outside of criminal investigations (missing persons, Silver Alerts, etc)? – yes. Does it invade privacy? – no.
Quite simply, LPR saves lives and improves the safety of our officers, families and communities while preserving personal privacy. How can you help? Please visit http://www.lprfacts.com and enter your information in the “Join Us” section on the front page to endorse the positive use of LPR and oppose legislative restrictions on this valuable technology.