ACLU Seeks Info on Automatic License Plate Readers

(KCPW News) The ACLU of Utah has filed an open-records request to learn more about how law enforcement agencies in the state are using automatic license plate readers. The request was submitted to the Utah Highway Patrol, the Ogden Police Department and the Iron County Sheriff’s Office. John Mejia, Legal Director of ACLU of Utah, says the organization is against the devices in general because of the privacy abuses they could produce.

“But if we’re going to have them, we would want to see specific limitations on the way they’re used, when they’re used, how they’re used, what limits are placed on accessing and sharing that sort of data,” he says.

During a recent committee meeting, the Beaver County Sheriff requested the legislature’s permission to set up a stationary license plate reader on I-15, allowing the federal Drug Enforcement Administration to store license plate numbers for two years.

Meija notes the Sheriff in Iron County says he’s only used the technology on two specific occasions.

“We’re not sure what we’re going to find. If it’s what the Iron County Sheriff is saying, then perhaps it’s not so troubling. But if it’s closer to what the DEA was asking for, which is a huge collection of information, that’s the sort of thing that would really raise hackles with us,” says Meija.

The Ogden Police Department did not return a request for comment from KCPW. A spokesman for the Department of Public Safety says the Utah Highway Patrol does not currently use automatic license plate readers.