More License Plate Readers Bring Privacy Concerns

More License Plate Readers Bring Privacy Concerns

For many people across the country, they have noticed the increase in road rage and shooting incidents on our highways and roadways. This problem has struck Michigan as well, including those freeways throughout Troy and Metro Detroit. This uptick in road violence has led to the use of license plate readers.  Currently, Mr. Freeman has an active case where this technology was used to arrest a client.

The pilot program

According to the Michigan State Police, the pilot program will put license plate readers along Interstate 96 and Southfield Freeway. Every vehicle that passes the license plate readers will have their plates recorded and cataloged into a MSP database accessible by police investigators for 30 days.

If they choose to, those investigators can then investigate those vehicles further if they match vehicles suspected in crimes. Cameras are already in the process of being installed, and they use the same technology used by toll booths to catch people who do not pay tolls.

Justification

According to the MSP, their most recent example of how this program could have helped is finding the recent shooter on the Southfield Freeway who dumped a man’s body on the freeway’s ramp. The police claim they could have found the alleged suspect much faster if this database had been in place.

Privacy concerns

MSP claims they will only use the license plate database to solve serious crimes, like shootings. They promise that it will not be used to enforce low-level crimes, like traffic offense, including speeding. And, they claim that these cameras do not have the ability to detect speed, which is illegal in Michigan.

However, citizens and privacy experts are not so confident in the MSP’s claims. Having an unregulated database of all local’s movements brings up fears of a police state and have raised privacy fears. Indeed, the American Civil Liberties Union has echoed these concerns, in addition to profiling concerns. While this is a limited pilot project here, MSP said this technology could eventually be rolled out across the state, which is concerning to many throughout Troy and Detroit.