MCLU Applauds Passage of Restrictions on New Police Surveillance Technology

Affiliate: ACLU of Maine
March 24, 2010 12:00 am

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Today, the Maine House of Representatives voted unanimously to impose important restrictions on the use of new police surveillance technology, following similar action in the Maine Senate yesterday. The bill, LD 1561, puts significant safeguards on the deployment of automated license plate recognition systems (ALPRs), including strict limits on the development of police databases for tracking people’s movements. While the bill falls short of the total ban sought in the original legislation, it nonetheless provide important protections against government abuse of power and threats to the right to privacy. LD 1561 was introduced by Senator Dennis Damon (D-Hancock), Chair of the Legislature’s Transportation Committee and a stalwart privacy advocate.

“An Act to Regulate the Use of Traffic Surveillance Cameras,” as passed, restricts use of the ALPRs to law enforcement agencies, the Maine Department of Transportation and the Maine Turnpike Authority. The legislation provides for purging of data pertaining to law-abiding citizens every 21 days and ensures that the databases are confidential. The bill requires additional procedural votes before it is sent to the Governor for his signature.

The following can be attributed to Shenna Bellows, Executive Director of the Maine Civil Liberties Union:

“The Maine Legislature took an important stand today in support of constitutional privacy rights for all the people of Maine. Mainers are united in our commitment to personal privacy and the right to be left alone, as evidenced by the unanimous support this bill received. This legislation will set clear limits on the use of this powerful technology and restrictions on how long data on law-abiding citizens may be kept. We are hopeful that the Governor will sign these restrictions into law.”

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