Privacy advocates urge action on license plate readers

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – Most of us realize that if a police officer pulls up behind you, they can scan your license plate, and get your personal information. But did you know that they can keep that information for as long as they want?

Police scan license plates to check for stolen cars and illegally parked cars. They can then store information on you and your vehicle.

Civil liberty advocates worry that the information could end up in the wrong hands. They’re urging state lawmakers to consider three bills that would limit how long police can keep the information, and to keep it from being shared with private companies.

Lorraine Lyttle of Springfield told 22News that she had mixed feelings, saying that she supports it “If they’re going to use it to find somebody that’s abusing the system. But to keep it, to use it all of the time, no.” Longmeadow Barresi said “Our plates are available for anyone at anytime, so really it’s just a method of identifying things with more efficiency, which I think the officers should be able to do.”

The ACLU said the bills would still be able to help police solve crimes without violating anyone’s privacy. 12 states have already passed similar legislation to regulate the use of license readers, including New Hampshire and Vermont.

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