High-tech cameras to capture the date, time and location that scanned vehicles passed are used in some capacity by about 600 local and state police departments and other state and federal agencies, according to the American Civil Liberties Union. Private business, such as repossession companies and vehicle insurance companies, also use the technology that can capture about 1,800 images per minute.
To date, a dozen states have enacted rules relating to the use of ALPRs.
In the coming weeks New Hampshire will be added to the growing list. Gov. Maggie Hassan has signed into law a bill to authorize the use of plate scanners.
The state now prohibits their use.
Law enforcement agencies will be authorized to use the scanners to collect plate numbers and run them through a database of crimes and individuals. Acceptable uses of the technology include commercial trucking violations, tracking stolen vehicles and tracking people suspected of criminal or terrorist acts.
Critics say use of the scanners amounts to warrantless searches. Supporters say the scanners are not intended to infringe on peoples’ privacy. They say the new law simply allows law enforcement to do what they are mandated to do: read license plates.
Effective July 18, the new law requires data from plates that are not included on any lists to be purged within three minutes.
Across the state line in Vermont, Gov. Peter Shumlin also signed into law a bill covering the use of plate readers.
In effect Friday, July 1, the new law amends existing statute to specify the scanners cannot be used for parking enforcement or traffic violations. However, information can be collected for ongoing criminal, missing person, or commercial trucking investigations or enforcement.
The Department of Motor Vehicles is authorized to manage a separate database of ALPR data in connection with commercial vehicle enforcement activities.
Data retention is limited to 18 months.
An effort underway in neighboring Massachusetts would also regulate use of the tracking technology. Specifically, H4322 would restrict us of ALPRs for specific purposes, such as law enforcement or electronic tolling. Any data collected must be deleted within 48 hours.
However, data could be transferred to the executive office of public safety and security.