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License plate readers, police data to be limited, says Virginia Senate panel

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policecar3Police use of license plate readers and other data collection technologies will be strictly limited if a bill by Senator Chap Petersen (D-Fairfax) becomes law. On Monday, Petersen’s bill was reported out of Senate General Laws Committee in a bipartisan vote of 12-3.

Restricting the government’s unwarranted and indiscriminate collection of personal data has become a focus of Petersen’s legislative efforts in the last two sessions. Last year, he co-founded the Ben Franklin Liberty caucus in 2014 with Delegate Rich Anderson (R-Prince William).

If it becomes law, Senator Petersen’s bill, SB 965, will limit police retention of license plate reader data to seven (7) days. Currently many police departments keep data for months or years, even if it is not related to any ongoing investigations.

Petersen’s bill does allow departments to keep data longer if it is related to an ongoing criminal investigation.

An unlikely coalition of the Virginia Tea Party Patriots and the ACLU supported the bill. Opposing the bill were a variety of police organizations, the Virginia Sheriffs Association, the State Police, and the Prince William County Police Department.

Statement of Senator Chap Petersen: “Nowhere in our Constitution does it say that police are allowed to have unlimited powers of collection of personal data. I am pleased that the members of the Committee agree that this data collection has to be limited, and that thoughtful regulations can fix the problem of unlimited data collection in Virginia.”

 

Vote Count: 12Y-3N

Ayes:
Sens: Colgan, Stosch, Martin, Locke, Petersen, Barker, Stuart, Deeds, Ebbin, Garrett, Wexton, Ruff.

Nos:
Sens: Vogel, Black, Reeves.

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