Under a new set of guidelines, South Bend police will be allowed to keep data collected by automatic license plate readers — including information not related to specific investigations — for up to 18 months.
The city Board of Public Safety approved the policy Wednesday, setting up formal rules on how city police will use technology that has raised concerns from privacy watchdogs for its ability to quickly read and catalogue not only thousands of drivers’ license plates, but also the exact date, time and location where each plate was scanned.
We’ve been waiting to hear about the data storage policy for weeks now. Nearly all of my callers are ok with the technology, but oppose extended storage of data of innocent people. Again, what is the reason for wanting to store this data for 18 months?
Federal offices such as the Forest Service and the U.S. Air Force’s Air Combat Command chose Livermore, California-based Vigilant Solutions to provide access to license plate databases or tools used to collect plate information, according to government procurement records compiled by Bloomberg.
Vigilant, a closely held company, has received such work since 2009. In February, Jeh Johnson, secretary of the Department of Homeland Security, ordered the cancelation of an immigration agency plan to buy access to national license plate data. While the technology can help solve crimes, the American Civil Liberties Union and other groups have said the mass collection of data infringes the privacy of innocent people.