Massachusetts House Committee Passes Bill to Restrict ALPR Use; Help Block National License Plate Tracking Program

alpr-massachusetts-052716By Mike Maharrey

A Massachusetts House committee has passed a bill that would put limitations on the storage and sharing of information collected by law enforcement agencies using Automated License Plate Readers (ALPRs) in the state, and place significant roadblocks in the way of a federal program using states to help track the location of millions of everyday people through pictures of their license plates.

The Joint Committee on Transportation created House Bill 4322 (H.4322) after considering several bills that would limit the use of ALPRs. The legislation would restrict the use of ALPRs to specific law enforcement functions, and place strict limits on the storage and sharing of any data collected by such systems.

On Monday, the House Committee on Transportation reported the bill favorably and referred it to the Ways and Means Committee for further consideration.

H.4322 would require law enforcement agencies to completely destroy data gathered by an ALPR within 48 hours. A law enforcement agency could transfer information to the executive office of public safety and security, but would still be required to erase the data from its system. The executive office would maintain the only database in the state. It would be required to destroy all data within 120 days. Sharing of ALPR information or retention of data beyond 120 days would require a warrant, a preservation request or a production order. The legislation includes strict criteria for issuance of such orders.

Any ALPR data shared or retained in violation of the law would be inadmissible for any purpose in any criminal, civil, or administrative proceeding.

Passage of H.4322 would prevent the state from creating permanent databases using information collected by ALPRs, and would make it highly unlikely that such data would end up in federal databases.

A similar bill is making its way through the Massachusetts Senate.

IMPACT ON FEDERAL PROGRAMS

As reported in the Wall Street Journal, the federal government, via the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) tracks the location of millions of vehicles. They’ve engaged in this for nearly eight years, all without a warrant, or even public notice of the policy.

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State and local law enforcement agencies operate most of these tracking systems, paid for by federal grant money. The DEA then taps into the local database to track the whereabouts of millions of people – for the simple act of driving – without having to operate a huge network itself.

Since a majority of federal license plate tracking data comes from state and local law enforcement, passage of H.4322 would take a major step toward blocking that program from continuing in Massachusetts. The feds can’t access data that doesn’t exist.

“No data means no federal license plate tracking program,” Tenth Amendment Center founder and executive director Michael Boldin said.

Law enforcement generally configures ALPRs to store the photograph, the license plate number, and the date, time, and location of vehicles. But according to newly disclosed records obtained by the ACLU via a Freedom of Information Act request, the DEA is also captures photographs of drivers and their passengers.

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According to the ACLU:

One internal 2009 DEA communication stated clearly that the license plate program can provide “the requester” with images that “may include vehicle license plate numbers (front and/or rear), photos of visible vehicle occupants [redacted] and a front and rear overall view of the vehicle.” Clearly showing that occupant photos are not an occasional, accidental byproduct of the technology, but one that is intentionally being cultivated, a 2011 email states that the DEA’s system has the ability to store “up to 10 photos per vehicle transaction including 4 occupant photos.

With the FBI rolling out facial a nationwide recognition program last fall, and the federal government building biometric databases, the fact that the feds can potentially access stored photographs of drivers and passengers, along with detailed location data, magnifies the privacy concerns surrounding ALPRs.

Passage of H.4322 would represent a good first step toward putting a big dent in federal plans to continue location tracking, and expanding its facial recognition program. The less data the state makes available to the federal government, the less ability they have to track people in Massachusetts.

Michael Maharrey [send him email] is the Communications Director for the Tenth Amendment Center. He proudly resides in the original home of the Principles of ’98 – Kentucky. See his blog archive here and his article archive here. He is the author of the book, Our Last Hope: Rediscovering the Lost Path to Liberty. You can visit his personal website at MichaelMaharrey.com and like him on Facebook HERE


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5 Comments on "Massachusetts House Committee Passes Bill to Restrict ALPR Use; Help Block National License Plate Tracking Program"

  1. That’s a step in the right direction but the 1984-esque surveillance equipment needs to be dismantled.

    Gotta also watch out for the surge in toll roads on public highways being built and turned over to private companies to “manage” (public private partnerships being a cornerstone of Agenda 21 to dis-empower local sovereignty). These outfits are often foreign companies given 50-year contracts with no public input or oversight in the negotiations – which the Dem governor of my state said was necessary to not discourage these companies from participating, he vetoed a legislative effort to require community input in future PPPs.

    The new toll road in my area (to Boulder, CO) has large prominent electronic displays across the entire highway showing what the fees are for various segments…….looking very much like the roadways in the globalist idealized Big Brother model of Singapore where transponders in vehicles track location and distance at all times with prices to go from point A to point B are posted on digital signs. Are we being conditioned?

  2. Blue – I’ve driven down 36 and if you drive the entire toll it’s gonna cost bucks.
    Generally no one uses them.
    The same type of thing has been put in place from Idaho Springs, Co to the turn from highway 6 to Golden, Co.’
    Theses tolls are bought from tax payer money and should not be toll. These lanes should all be open the general public, the ones who paid for it. The lane should be open to allow less congestion.

  3. The ONLY REASON that the Government wants to track us, and keep a national database on our coming and going is so that they can eventually gain control over all of us!! ALL of the equipment that the Government is using to spy on us illegally MUST BE either disabled, or closely monitored by a CIVILIAN AGENCY, (Who is policing the police?? We can’t trust them to police themselves!!) and ONLY USED when a LEGAL SEARCH WARRANT IS ISSUED!! There is no need to keep track of everyone’s license plate number, occupants of the vehicle, pictures of said vehicle, and destinations!! Those in Government who support this activity had better read the CONSTITUTION (Fourth Amendment) and see what it has to say about WARRANTLESS SEARCH AND SEIZURE!!!! And don’t tell me that the Constitution has to be updated to keep up with technology!! The Fourth Amendment is QUITE CLEAR on what, and what is not permitted to be done by the Government and “law enforcement agencies”!!!! INSTALL “PRIVACY GLASS” IN YOUR CAR SO THAT PICTURES OF YOU AND YOUR PASSENGERS CANNOT BE CAPTURED!!!!

  4. Obama’s idea of good government is he is the dictator and the rest of us are his pigeons.

  5. Well, that’s ten steps back for law enforcement.

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