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    Boston Herald: Lawyer: Cop scanner ‘crosses line’

    The Boston Herald reports on a proposal in Massachusetts to create a database of innocent drivers’ locations:

    Civil libertarians are raising the alarm over the state’s plans to create a Big Brother database that could map drivers’ whereabouts with police cruiser-mounted scanners that capture thousands of license plates per hour — storing that information indefinitely where local cops, staties, feds and prosecutors could access it as they choose. […]

    The computerized scanners, known as Automatic License Plate Recognition devices, instantly check for police alerts, warrants, traffic violations and parking tickets, which cops say could be an invaluable tool in thwarting crime. The Executive Office of Public Safety has approved 27 grants totaling $500,000 to buy scanners for state police and 26 local departments. The purchases are on hold while state lawyers develop a policy for the use of a common state database all the scanners would feed.

    Some ALPR scanners already are deployed on Massachusetts roads. State police have two. Several cities use them for parking enforcement. Chelsea has four scanner-mounted cruisers. […]

    The ACLU’s Kade Crockford said the technology, which just allows a faster version of what police do now in running plates, is less of a concern than the state’s plans to store information on average, law-abiding citizens.

    “People who aren’t wanted for a crime, all of their information is stored in a database that is shared with another government agency,” Crawford said. “The potential for abuse is very big. We don’t think people who haven’t committed a crime should be tracked by law enforcement.”

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