License Plate Data Protected, Destroyed After A Year

Baltimore County police say devices are not linked to red light or speed cameras "nor are they used for intelligence gathering."

Data collected by 19 license plate readers owned by the Baltimore County police are stored securely and destroyed after a year, according to a department spokeswoman.

But the information, although wiped from county computer systems, is transfered to a state law enforcement intelligence gathering agency that the Americal Civil Liberties Union has raised concerns about.

Elise Armacost, a spokeswoman for the department answered questions about what happens to the data just a day after the American Civil Liberties Union announced it on state and local police agencies in more than 35 states.

The civil liberties group is concerned extended storage of such information could lead to privacy violations by law enforcement agencies.

"Automatic license plate readers make it possible for the police to track our location whenever we drive our cars and to store that information forever," said Catherine Crump, staff attorney with the ACLU's Speech, Privacy & Technology Project, in a statement Monday. "The American people have a right to know whether our police departments are using these tools in a limited and responsible manner, or whether they are keeping records of our movements for months or years for no good reason."

Armacost said the devices are used for limited police activities.

"We use them as a law enforcement tool to help locate suspects, people with outstanding warrants, stolen vehicles and missing children or other missing persons," Armacost said in an email response to questions.

"We follow International Chiefs of Police guidelines that say readers will not be used to collect information at places of worship, political rallies or events, or medical facilities," Armacost wrote, adding that there is no link between the license plate readers and red light or speed cameras.

"Some people mistakenly assume that these tag readers are connected to red light or speed cameras; they are not linked in any way, nor are they used for intelligence gathering," she wrote.

Six of the county's license plate readers are assigned to the Regional Auto Theft Task Force. The remaining 13 are assigned to the county's 10 precincts.

The data is kept in a secure system and removed from county computer systems after a year. The information, however, is sent to the Maryland Coordination and Analysis Center, Armacost said.

There are more than 320 such devices in use in Maryland. More than 43 percent of those are connected to the Maryland Coordination and Analysis Center which used to be tasked with tracking just terrorist activities but now has an expanded role in all crimes, according to the ACLU.

Zoobie August 01, 2012 at 08:06 PM
We use Computers on a daily basis and 'cookies' are placed on our systems,so there are more ways than 'License Plate Readers' that track our habits in todays society. If we're not commiting crime, who cares what information about vehicles is tracked by Law Enforcement? The 'American ? Civil Liberties Union' files frivolous lawsuits anywhere they can make "A Buck", that comes out of 'guess where' ? Our Pocketbooks and Wallets, that's where ! That's right, the Government picks up the tab on lawsuits made by our friends(???) at the American? civil liberties union !!!
Evets August 01, 2012 at 08:25 PM
Do you have some evidence to back up this assertion that the ACLU receives funding from government sources? If so, please cite it here so that I can check that out. And please don't tell me to find evidence myself. You made the statement, you ought to be able to support it. Thanks.
Evets August 01, 2012 at 08:28 PM
Forgot to add, by funding the ACLU I do not mean court awarded fees from opponents who lost a suit against the ACLU. That is perfectly legal under the Civil Rights Attorney's Fees Act of 1976 and applies to all litigation against government entities in civil rights cases tried in court.
fred August 01, 2012 at 09:34 PM
they win most cases so thats not to frivolous. Anyway its not about whether you commit a crime or not its about a police spokesperson that is attempting to shadow the truth.
Zoobie August 06, 2012 at 06:40 AM
This is one site among many that back-up my comments on this blog:-www.ipetitions.com/petition/aclu/ -


More »
Got a question? Something on your mind? Talk to your community, directly.
Note Article
Just a short thought to get the word out quickly about anything in your neighborhood.
Share something with your neighbors.What's on your mind?What's on your mind?Make an announcement, speak your mind, or sell somethingPost something
See more »