LETTER: Data stored from license-plate scanner should have limits

Tuesday, September 15, 2009 | 3:54 p.m. CDT; updated 9:38 a.m. CDT, Tuesday, May 4, 2010

I am a strong supporter of both effective policing and protecting our civil liberties. The proposal by the Columbia Police Department to purchase a “high-tech device” to scan license plates seems to me to be a useful tool for officers. However, I see great harm in the long-term storage of such data.

Although I tend to trust that individual officers will behave ethically, I have no such faith in the government as a whole. Having the ability to know where individual citizens are at most any time is not something to which the government should be able to easily access. It provides too much temptation for misuse, as we have repeatedly seen on the national level.

How about a compromise? Authorize the purchase of the device, but severely limit the storage of the data obtained.




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