License plate readers could be coming to Michigan

License plate readers could be coming to Michigan

This would allow the government to track your movements

License plate readers ­– cameras that capture license plate information as vehicles pass by on public roads – could be coming to a location near you.

Washtenaw County law enforcement will be discussing the new technology with Ypsilanti Township. “Any surveillance that we are considering, there’s a process that we will follow,” said county Sheriff Jerry Clayton. In a live Facebook event, the county shared information on the potential surveillance with the community. Comments are mixed with some hoping this will make the community safer and others suggesting there could be other motives and we need to know how the information will be used – and potentially shared.

“I am sensitive to the whole big brother thing and how the personal privacy of information is used,” Clayton said. “I want to make sure that we do everything possible to protect that.”

The technology has already been approved in Jackson, although locations have not been finalized. They are expected to be installed on major entry and exit points around the city. “The LPR cameras will provide assistance in locating stolen vehicles and identifying vehicles used in the commission of crimes,” stated a report to the council by Jackson City Engineer Jon Dowling.

The ACLU called license plate readers a “significant invasion of privacy” echoing the concerns of many citizens.  “Automatic license plate readers,” the ACLU said, “have the potential to create permanent records of virtually everywhere any of us has driven radically transforming the consequences of leaving home to pursue private life, and opening up many opportunities for abuse.”

16 states currently address license plate cameras in their laws – how the technology and the data it collects can be used – and Michigan is not among them. However, Michigan lawmakers have proposed regulations reigning in their use in the past. A ban was even proposed in 2013.

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