Keeping track of you--license plate readers - WNCN: News, Weather

Keeping track of you--license plate readers

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"While I'm riding it's looking." Just a few months ago, Greenville Police put automatic license plate readers or ALPRs to use.

It records the date time and GPS location of any vehicle a patrol car passes. Law enforcement says they need the readers to hunt down fugitives and stolen cars and trucks. But groups like the American Civil Liberties Union say it's questionable technology that needs regulation.

"The vast majority of people whose movements are being tracked are completely innocent and are not involved in any criminal investigation." Michael Meno, Communications Director of the NC ACLU said.

Last summer the ACLU sent public records request to all state law enforcement agencies. They found that 11 use ALPRs; included is the Washington Police Department. Records show they store your license plate information indefinitely."

"The problem is when innocent people have their information swept up in this. And it is stored indefinitely and it's very problematic and everybody that values their privacy should have concerns about it." Meno said.

Chip Ide opposes ALPRs and says, "If it's bad in one spot, then it's bad all over, as far as I'm concerned."

"As long as I haven't done anything wrong, i don't have anything to worry about." Frances Davidson responds.

The Washington Police department reported 585,000 plates read between April 2010 and August 2012. Approximately 20,000 per month and are all still in the system.

 "We're not trying to limit law enforcement the ability to use this. All we're trying to protect the privacy rights who are doing nothing wrong and who shouldn't be tracked by the government." Meno said.

Wednesday afternoon, 9 On Your Side spoke with Washington Police who say they keep records of the plates forever because there's no law against it. But ensures us, they tightly control the records.

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