License plate reader bill advances in Senate committee

Published: Wednesday, Feb. 27 2013 3:59 p.m. MST

In this 2007 file photo, a Salt Lake City Police Officer uses a license plate reader on his patrol car. A bill requiring the deletion of data scanned on a license plate reader received a favorable recommendation Wednesday, Feb. 27, 2013, from a Senate committee.

Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News

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SALT LAKE CITY — A bill requiring the deletion of data scanned on a license plate reader received a favorable recommendation Wednesday from a Senate committee.

Law enforcement agencies across the state commonly use data of a motorist’s whereabouts from license plate scanners in tracking down criminals.

SB196, sponsored by Sen. Todd Weiler, R-Woods Cross, would bar law enforcement from retaining the data for longer than six months to guard against divorce lawyers or police who may misuse the scanners.

"This type of technology is impressive, but it's also creepy," Weiler said.

The bill was amended by the Senate Transportation and Public Utilities and Technology Committee to require private entities to delete the data within seven days of the reading. Public entities would have nine months to do so.

Marina Lowe, legislative and policy council for the ACLU of Utah, said the bill is a great idea but doesn't go far enough.

"The tracking of people's movements can be a significant invasion of people's privacy," Lowe said. "Retaining the data for 12 hours would be sufficient."

The bill would also bar a person or governmental entity from using an automatic license plate reader system, except under certain circumstances. The bill now moves to the full Senate for consideration.

Rachel Lowry

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