Law would curtail license-plate tracking

  • January 30, 2013 - 9:43 PM

A state senator has introduced legislation that would keep license-plate tracking data private and require police to destroy it within 24 hours.

The bill comes nearly six months after the Star Tribune first reported on the databases, held by police across the state, that are filled with location data derived from car-mounted license-plate readers. Police use the readers to catch criminals in real time -- they check every plate they spot against several databases -- but also store location data on non-criminals.

That information is now classified as public, meaning anyone can file an open-records request for information on someone else's vehicle. It has been private in Minneapolis since Mayor R.T. Rybak asked the state to temporarily reclassify the information, however.

Sen. Scott Dibble, DFL-Minneapolis, introduced legislation Wednesday that would make the data private and require it to be destroyed in one day unless the vehicle is stolen, there is a warrant out for the owner, or the owner has a suspended or revoked license.

The 24-hour retention time is likely to spur debate at the Legislature. Rep. John Lesch, who chairs the Civil Law Committee in the Minnesota House, doesn't want data on non-criminals to be stored at all.

Minneapolis, which has 10 readers, currently stores the data for 90 days. That was scaled back in 2012 from their previous one-year retention period.


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