discussion question 4 6

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In this unit, we read about the use of automated license plate recognition technology. Can you think of any legal concerns with implementing this technology system?

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Kesha’s Unit IV Discussion Board Question

Technological advancement has enhanced the development of appropriate law enforcement systems in the modern society. The use of technology to address policing activities helps in determination of a better society and a governable community. Reduction of crime is a top priority of the law enforcement organizations in the United States and the application of different initiatives to handle the criminal activities in the society have been a normalcy in the US. Nonetheless, technology has aided in the provision of new mechanisms to handle crime and ensure prevalence of peace in the community. However, the identification of the number plates and the exact location of vehicles at times of crime has been a great issue for the US law enforcement agencies. The application of integral measures to curb the use of vehicles that are used in criminal activities has forced law enforcement to come up with beneficial models to handle this issue. The introduction of the Automatic License Plate Recognition system is an efficient technology that seeks to enhance policing in the modern society and help in instituting better schematics in governance of the community such as enhance their enforcement and investigative capabilities, expand their collection of relevant data, and expedite the tedious and time consuming process of manually comparing vehicle license plates with lists of stolen, wanted, and other vehicles of interest.

One major legal issue that could be argued regarding ALPR systems is the infringement of privacy. Most of the general public has a reasonable belief that their license plates should be private. Because ALPR’s collect data from all license plates, even individuals who are not criminals are being tracked. Furthermore, the actual plate number may not be private, but some of the images that the software captures regarding an individual may be. Automatic license plate readers can radically transform the consequences of leaving home to pursue private life and opening up many opportunities for abuse. The tracking of people’s location constitutes a significant invasion of privacy, which can reveal many things about their lives and this collection of data can be shared with virtually anyone.

Another concern would be data security. Sharing such sensitive information across state lines makes it harder to conduct appropriate oversight because the data and privacy laws in one place may differ from another. It also makes that information more susceptible to breaches. If hackers get a hold on what is essentially a geotagged map of your movements, they could sell that stalkers, robbers, or other individuals who wish you harm.

Automated License Plate Readers: State Statutes. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.ncsl.org/research/telecommunications-a…

Winston, & Strawn. (2018, June 15). Growing Privacy Regulation of Automatic License Plate Readers – Lexology. Retrieved from https://www.lexology.com/library/detail.aspx?g=4c2…


If I was a parent with an abducted child or family member or my car was stolen, I might appreciate the ALPR technology. However, contrary to my response last week about laws limiting police in their jobs, I have to say I am not a fan of automated license plate readers. I have been caught myself! It is a significant tool, no doubt. However, there are too many privacy issues that need to be protected against its use.

First, two companies who sell the technology, Vigilant Solutions, and ELSAG are not restricted from selling their information to commercial vendors. Vigilant boasts that they can collect over 120 plates a month. They are an international company. They claim their software algorithms and database can show past patterns of the drivers of these vehicles as well as predict the future patterns of these drivers. Their database is estimated to be 2.2 billion. They are being paid with American tax dollars.

The ACLU and organizations such as EFF (Electronic Freedom Foundation) are only two watchdog agencies who are concerned about how ALPR technology is a violation of not only the First Amendment but the Fourth Amendment. There are legal court cases that are having an impact on the use of ALPR. (ACLU vs Los Angeles Superior Court, Neal vs Fairfax City Police Dept, Lynem v. the Commonwealth of Kentucky). An additional issue is the time frame of data storage. There is currently no set of data retention limits. Five years is currently the common norm.

Too much information about individual citizens can lead to an abuse of power. The current technology can track people to their place of worship (Christians, Muslims, etc.), political rallies/protests, gun and sex shops). “A former female police officer in Minnesota discovered that her driver’s license record was accessed 425 times by 18 different agencies across the state.” (Electronic Frontiers Foundation, 2017)


ACLU https://www.aclu.org/legal-document/people-v-gonzales-amicus-brief

Electronic Freedom Foundation. https://www.eff.org/pages/automated-license-plate-readers-alpr

National Criminal Justice Reference Service: NCJRS. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.ncjrs.gov/pdffiles1/nil/grants/239604….

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