Like many, I am troubled by the amount of information that law enforcement agencies can collect on United States citizens without a warrant.
I just read the Mail Tribune story published on July 30 about the license plate readers in Medford Police Department patrol cars and I'm wondering how many cars come with this technology? Is it the entire fleet?
— Cameron M., Medford
According to Medford police officials, the department has two cars in its fleet that are equipped with the license plate readers.
The readers capture an image of each license plate that passes by the patrol car. The captured plate is immediately scanned to see whether the car has been stolen or has been connected to any sort of crime. If a plate "hits" as a stolen car, the screen flashes with the information surrounding the potential crime.
Medford police bought the equipment, with a $30,000 federal grant, from PIPS Technology Inc. of Knoxville, Tenn.
Civil rights advocates such as the American Civil Liberties Union of Oregon have criticized the license plate readers. They believe the technology is an invasion of privacy because they passively read each plate, no matter if the driver is guilty of a crime or not.
Medford police say the readers keep the scanned information for just over a month before it is dropped from the database. The agency does not share the information with the federal government.
The ACLU is lobbying lawmakers to place strict limitations on how the police can collect license-plate data and how long it can be stored.
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