Lawmakers kill bill to spy on motorists with license plate scanners
However, supporters of House Bill 675 said it would improve public safety and make police departments more efficient. And they said the bill protects privacy rights because police would destroy the data after holding it for three minutes to match data bases for wanted or missing people. Local communities would have had to vote to allow their police to use the readers.
Kurk and others cited revelations about the National Security Agency's massive data collection leaked by former contractor Edward Snowden.
Collecting the information could allow the state to know a person's driving habits, or whether a person goes to a drug treatment clinic or a particular meeting, Kurk said.
"The issue for me is whether or not personal privacy is protected," Kurk said. "If you adopt this, you will erode that privacy — not immediately — but in the future."
"When you create a database, it has value and someone will try to get it," said Kurk. "We are creating another honey pot and the bees and the bears will be there."
"This moves us back into the era of Big Brother," Vaillancourt said.
But bill supporters said the use of the scanners will improve public safety and would help locate missing children or elderly persons, quickly identify stolen cars or plates, and target those wanted by law enforcement
He said with vanity plates, any sense of privacy is close to delusional. And he said each community would decide if its police department would be allowed to use the license plate scanners.
"Those of us who are law-abiding citizens should not have anything to fear," said Rep. Robert Theberge, D-Berlin.
After killing the bill, the House then voted 214-135 to prohibit the House from considering the issue again this session.
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