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Raleigh police Officer John Maultsby says the new scanning system is safe and is working to catch crooks.  (Source: Keith Baker/WRAL)

The American Civil Liberties Union has request more information to determine if the scanning violations privacy protections, based on current legal interpretation of the Bill of Rights.  (Source: ACLU)
Raleigh, NC police system stores records of your license plates and location

Would it bother you if there was a record of where you were at all times, stored in a public database? That's the concern that citizens in Raleigh, North Carolina have expressed. 

Raleigh area police have just adopted a new Automated License Plate Reader system that they say will make citizens in the region more secure.  The system consists of four cameras mounted to police cruisers that automatically read license plates of nearby cars (the cost to outfit each cruiser can cost between $18,000 to $20,000).  The results are sent back to the police headquarters, where they are scanned for matches in the national criminal database.

The police say the system is working great.  It has already help recover several stolen vehicles and locate at least one missing person.  Describes Officer John Maultsby, "With this technology, it can read hundreds of plates in a couple of seconds if there are that many plates for it to see."

The system, however, is stirring up controversy.  Some take issue with the fact that your license plate information and location is stored both in the police cruiser and at the police headquarters, regardless of if you committed a crime.  The police have not made it clear how long this information is stored.

Such information could be dangerous if it was stolen.  It could reveal many embarrassing, but perfectly legal behaviors. Given that government databases are routinely compromised by hackers, many worry about the possibility of privacy risks to law-abiding citizens.

Raleigh is home to roughly 400,000 U.S. citizens.  It is the state capital of North Carolina, and the state's second largest city.  Numerous colleges, including North Carolina State University, Shaw University, Peace College, and St. Augustine's College, are located in Raleigh.  The students at these schools are taking note of the debate, and many have strong opinions on it.

States N.C. State student Ian Kilgore, "It’s just privacy. Even though I am not doing anything wrong, and I don’t have anything to hide, I still don’t want people to know where I am at any given time."

The U.S. Constitution contains no specific mention of a "right to privacy", but the precedent set by the highest court in the U.S., the Supreme Court, interprets the 9th Amendment to offer privacy protections.  Important cases that established this precedent include several contraception-related cases (the Griswold and Eisenstadt cases), an interracial marriage case (the Loving case), and the well-known abortion case, Roe v Wade. 

The 9th amendment states:

The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.

Other amendments in the Bill of Rights also been interpreted to provide privacy protections, such as the 3rd, the 4th's search and seizure limits, and the 5th's self-incrimination limit.

The American Civil Liberties Union, a U.S. rights watchdog group, has not challenged the new system, but has expressed its concern.  It has sent a letter to the Raleigh police asking for a copy of their policy concerning the use of the scanners.  The policy would likely reveal information such as how long location information is stored and what kind of protections are in place to prevent its accidental release.

Jennifer Rudinger with the ACLU of N.C. comments, "If an officer does not get a hit when scanning a plate, then there is no legitimate reason for law enforcement to keep it on file for any length of time."

Concerns over similar systems have been raised nationwide in Washington D.C. and elsewhere.

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RE: *bzzz* wrong
By bhieb on 3/31/2010 1:49:49 PM , Rating: 0
Nail on the head as usual pork. Of course Jason leads his sheep down that path with...
Would it bother you if there was a record of where you were at all times, stored in a public database? That's the concern that citizens in Raleigh, North Carolina have expressed.

Really Jason lame even by your ... uh... well lets just call them "standards". It is NOT a record of EVERYWHERE you go. It is a record of everywhere a cop sees you. Which is already public domain. It in NO way tracks your every move as you so blatantly suggest.

In fact in true Mickish styly no where in your article is the information to make an actual unbiased informed opinion.
Some take issue with the fact that your license plate information and location is stored both in the police cruiser and at the police headquarters, regardless of if you committed a crime.

Really how long is it stored? Is it archived or simply stored while processed. According to the original article.
Not everyone was happy to hear that the license plates are captured and saved in the system's memory.

So it is stored in "system memory". Well holy crap stop this perverse invasion of privacy. Of course it is stored in memory, that is how these new fangled PC's work, but it does not mean it is stored after processing. Where does it say it is not discarded if nothing is found? Certainly nothing in the original article, just here in Micks assumptions.

So here lets fix that opening paragraph.
Would it bother you if law enforcement utilized an automated system to scan license plates and run instant background checks, as you drove by?

THAT is what this system does according to these 2 articles. Nowhere here or in the original does it say that it is "stored" after processing. The only thing that hints at that is the quote from the ACLU rep, that as Mick has done jumps to that conclusion.

RE: *bzzz* wrong
By ironargonaut on 3/31/2010 2:29:39 PM , Rating: 5
Having entered license plates into the national computer system let me point out how they are stored regardless of the local police system.
EVERY license plate that is ran through the NCIS computers is stored. The time and the agent iniating the search are also stored. This data can then be accessed by ANYONE in the country with the proper clearance to get full reports. Example, young woman went missing on trip between states. Computer search was done to see if her licensce plate or id had been ran through the system. The system showed she had been stopped for speeding in Wyoming allowing indentification of officer who stopped her. Unfortunately, none of this helped. She was later found in a river tied down w/blocks.
The point is once the data is entered into the system it is in there for good. Not, only can someone in the state get the data, but others outside the state can also. All this data is stored in the federal computer system that tracks warrants. Some data has a limited life span of a year or so, others are forever. I know for a fact officers when bored drive through hotel parking lots at night and run licensce plates checking for warrants, but they had to do it manually. Now they can just drive through the parking lot or grocery store or, the parking lot for the antiwar rally etc..

It is only logical that the system if not stopped would soon be applied to traffic cameras etc. As a private non-public citizen it is illegal for a person to follow me when I leave my house and publish every where I go. Even if they don't publish, it is still called stalking. What you are implying is that it is ok for the gov't to do the same.

RE: *bzzz* wrong
By therealnickdanger on 3/31/10, Rating: -1
RE: *bzzz* wrong
By thrust2night on 4/1/2010 5:35:09 PM , Rating: 1
Thank you for the useless and idiotic post you just made. On the same note, let's just call in the national guard in every town and have a curfew starting 7pm. This would be a better way to stop those... what did you call them? a**holes, no?

Understand these words: "The end does not justify the means".

"We can't expect users to use common sense. That would eliminate the need for all sorts of legislation, committees, oversight and lawyers." -- Christopher Jennings
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