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Senate passes Chap Petersen bill to reign in police data collection

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chap-petersen-headerPolice 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. Today, Petersen’s bill was reported out of Senate unanimously. (38Y-0N).

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).

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:

“This bill will protect Virginians from unnecessary and indiscriminate police data collection and retention. 240 years ago the Senate passed the Virginia Declaration of Fundamental rights, which protected citizens from unwarranted searches and seizures. I’m pleased that the Senate agrees that police data collection and retention must be restricted in order to maintain the liberty of the Commonwealth’s citizens.”

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