Vigilant wants to commend the Maryland legislators and Governor for passage of Senate Bill 699 into law. This new law should be viewed as a model piece of legislation elsewhere in the country as it preserves the many benefits of license plate reader technology and data, while also seeking to advance protections on driver privacy. While many states focus on some form of censorship, an arbitrary retention policy, or an outright ban of license plate readers altogether – which does nothing for privacy and only compromises public safety, Maryland did NOT accept the same template being used in other states.

Maryland instead chose to look at the issues and truly understand that 1) LPR data is anonymous, and 2) LPR data can only be made personal by cross referencing it with DMV data which is already governed by a Federal law called the Driver’s Privacy Protection Act (DPPA). With this understanding, Maryland’s new law doesn’t focus on deleting anonymous data that may help solve a series of historical pattern crimes or bring home an abducted child. Maryland’s new law does not seek to limit public-private partnerships with law enforcement, enabling agencies to be better equipped and far more effective than their budgets would otherwise allow.  Maryland’s new law does not prohibit taking a picture of a vehicle license plate in a public place.  Maryland’s new law doesn’t needlessly put lives at risk by arbitrarily deleting information that may help police identify the next Kansas City Highway Shooter.

Maryland’s new law focuses on the real issues that potentially impact driver privacy – proper access controls and security of the data. Law enforcement agencies are now required to access the data for only legitimate law enforcement purposes (closely resembling the “permissible purpose” language in the Federal DPPA). Law enforcement agencies are required to have proper auditing controls in place so that they may report annually on their usage to ensure proper management and oversight of their systems. Most importantly, the Maryland law establishes that information gathered by an automatic license plate reader system is not subject to disclosure under the Maryland Public Information Act.

Vigilant hopes that other states take Maryland’s lead and implement a common sense solution that protects personal privacy while enabling law enforcement to better serve and protect.

For the complete text of the Maryland Bill as signed into law, visit: http://mgaleg.maryland.gov/webmga/frmMain.aspx?id=SB699&stab=01&pid=billpage&tab=subject3&ys=2014rs