York County Libertarian Party

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YCPD: Policy on License Plate Scanners Coming Soon - What to Expect

How to Ensure the Policy Safeguards Your Privacy Interests


More than a year after the York LP called for a moratorium on the purchase of automatic license plate scanners in the city of York, and two Right-to-Know requests later, public release of a policy governing the use of the devices is imminent, according to York City Police Chief Wes Kahley.

Chief Kahley says the policy was authored in accordance with guidelines from the International Association of Chiefs of Police license plate scanner Privacy Impact Assessment report.

In order to safeguard innocent citizens from the threat of wholesale, retroactive surveillance and location tracking, it’s imperative that a commensurate set of checks and balances be put in place to offset the department’s enhanced surveillance capacities. The following are my suggestions.

Police Want to be able to “Google Search” Your Mobility Patterns

  • Data Retention – How long will the police department be storing information gathered from license plate scanners? Infomation not associated with an on-going criminal investigation should be purged within 14 days.

Information collected by scanners contains significant amounts of data including the time, date and GPS coordinates of each scan. Accumulated data can be collated and data-mined to reveal innocent citizens driving patterns. One Minnesota mayor found that out the hard way. The Department of Homeland Security has directed local police agencies to profile citizens and create ‘individualized threat mosaics’ based on their location patterns.

  • Information Sharing – Will the department be releasing data captured from the scanners to other public and/or private agencies? Information not associated with an on-going criminal investigation must not be shared with other law enforcement or private agencies.

This should be self-explanatory. It’s not always so simple, though. Some license plate scanner vendors function as a third-party data warehouse, storing information from scanners in shared regional spaces and automatically sharing data on innocent citizens driving patterns through an intranet spread among various government agencies by way of fusion centers.

Speaking at a National Institute of Justice conference on license plate scanners, Dale Stockton (head of Operation RoadRunner, a project of the Automated Regional Justice Information System in California) said such a system would be “something akin to a Google search”.

  • Hot Lists – What type of cars will police look for? Will police look for cars with information shared from other departments? Information shared with the department by other public/private agencies, which is not related to on-going criminal investigations, must not be stored and used by the department.

Due to the relative ease of sharing data from license pate scans, and evidence that prolific amounts of sharing occur, we must safeguard against private contractors and other law enforcement agencies sourcing data on innocent citizens and sharing the data with the department. This is a loophole that would allow local police to off-load surveillance to a third party.

The Trap Door

I filed two Right-To-Know requests that were both denied by the city, citing ‘homeland security’ as an exemption. If history is any indicator, be on the lookout for phrases such as “except for public safety” and the like. It’s likely the department will go to any means to maintain its retroactive surveillance capacities intact. Remember, after all, that it’s been over a year and if it weren’t for consistent public pressure the chief would have never even considered drafting a policy, let alone making it public.

Related Articles

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  • UPDATE: York City Police Department Denies Access to Records
  • York County Police Seeking Federal Funds for Pre-Crime Intelligence System
  • A Case Against More COPS Funding in York
  • My (REJECTED) Letter to the Editor: When Child Abuse and the Stop Snitching Culture Collide
  • York Economic Development Director Kevin Schreiber Eyes 95th District Seat
  • Community Reacts to York City Police Beating of Young Student
  • Councilman Helfrich Calls for Policy on License Plate Scanners
  • Letter to the editor: Keep city police from spying on innocent citizens
  • ACLU: License Plate Scanners a Threat to Americans' Privacy


  • Councilman Helfrich Calls for Policy on License Plate Scanners

    Falls Just Short of Homerun Call for Binding Resolution

    One year after the York County Libertarian Party requested a moratorium on the deployment of automatic license plate scanners in York City, efforts to protect the privacy interests of York residents seem to be coming to a head.

    read more



    ACLU: License Plate Scanners a Threat to Americans' Privacy

    ACLU Launches Nationwide Public Records Requests

    In July 2012, American Civil Liberties Union affiliates in 38 states sent requests to local police departments and state agencies that demand information on how they use automatic license plate readers (ALPR) to track and record Americans’ movements.

    On the same day, the ACLU and the ACLU of Massachusetts filed federal Freedom of Information Act requests with the Departments of Justice, Homeland Security, and Transportation to learn how the federal government funds ALPR expansion nationwide and uses the technology itself. Read the full story here

    While you’re at it, read about our records requests to the City of York, demanding full disclosure on how the York City Police Department uses its automatic license plate scanners; you’ll be shocked to learn the results.

    read more



    York City Police Engaging in Wholesale Surveillance of Innocent Citizens

    YCPD Using Surveillance Technology to Track and Trace



    How do you feel knowing that York City Police are keeping detailed records of your daily movements and whereabouts? We feel it’s an affront to one of the basic principles of a free society – the right to be left alone. Citizens are to be presumed innocent, but with its automatic license plate scanners, the York City Police Department is watching everyone closely and without prejudice under a pall of unmitigated suspicion. If you’re unfamiliar with the specific reasons why we’re concerned about police use of automatic license plate scanners, listen to my interview or read our earlier coverage for more information. Or just keep reading.

    read more



    York City Council: Automatic License Plate Scanner Meeting

    Video of York city council discussion regarding YCPD’s proposal to deploy automatic license plate scanners in York. If you missed it, our background coverage can be found here

    Related Articles

  • York City Schools Implement Biometric Finger Scans Without Parental Consent
  • UPDATE: York City Police Department Denies Access to Records
  • York County Police Seeking Federal Funds for Pre-Crime Intelligence System
  • A Case Against More COPS Funding in York
  • My (REJECTED) Letter to the Editor: When Child Abuse and the Stop Snitching Culture Collide
  • York Economic Development Director Kevin Schreiber Eyes 95th District Seat
  • Community Reacts to York City Police Beating of Young Student
  • YCPD: Policy on License Plate Scanners Coming Soon - What to Expect
  • Councilman Helfrich Calls for Policy on License Plate Scanners
  • Letter to the editor: Keep city police from spying on innocent citizens



  • VIDEO: York County Libertarian Party Achieves Moratorium on Purchase of Automatic License Plate Scanners

    Automatic License Plate Scanner mounted on a York City Police patrol car. Courtesy

    York, Pa – The York County Libertarian Party has successfully argued for a moratorium on the purchase of automatic license plate scanners intended to be deployed by the York City Police Department.

    read more



    York County Libertarian Party Calls for Moratorium on Deployment of Automatic License Plate Scanners


    Update: Manuel Gomez joined constitutional lawyer Paul Rossi on WHP 580’s Bob Durgin show to discuss York city’s proposal for automatic license plate scanners. Listen to the interview below.

    For Immediate Release
    Sunday, September 04, 2011

    Contact: York County Libertarian Party Evan Mentzell – Secretary press@yorklp.org http://www.yorklp.org/press

    York County Libertarian Party Calls for Moratorium on Deployment of Automatic License Plate Scanners

    York, PA – The York County Libertarian Party (York LP) is raising opposition to a measure proposed by the council of the City of York, which would authorize the York City Police Department to purchase Automatic License Plate Scanners.

    A Bill authorizing the purchase of automatic license plate scanners is scheduled to be introduced during York City council’s legislative session on Tuesday, Sept. 06 at 7pm in York’s city council chambers.

    The York LP is calling on public officials in the City of York to table the measure until proper oversight and deployment restrictions are judiciously explored and implemented with the full and open participation of the public. Members say the proposal raises concerns over the protection of innocent citizens’ privacy.

    “We need full oversight as to how the data will be collected and stored, and answers to whether or not citizens’ private data will be collated and sold to private companies,” said David Moser, Chair of the York County Libertarian Party, speaking during a special meeting on the topic.

    Automatic License Plate Scanners have been deployed in various municipalities throughout the nation in recent years, often used to locate, track, and seize vehicles found to be without insurance coverage, vehicles registered to individuals who owe taxes and municipal fees, and even overdue library charges. “We offer the opportunity to the City of York, that we can be the vanguard of openness and transparency and show that these systems can be properly implemented and utilized free and clear of abuse if proper citizen engagement and access is granted early on in the process”, said Mr. Moser.

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    Related Articles

  • York City Schools Implement Biometric Finger Scans Without Parental Consent
  • UPDATE: York City Police Department Denies Access to Records
  • York County Police Seeking Federal Funds for Pre-Crime Intelligence System
  • A Case Against More COPS Funding in York
  • My (REJECTED) Letter to the Editor: When Child Abuse and the Stop Snitching Culture Collide
  • York Economic Development Director Kevin Schreiber Eyes 95th District Seat
  • Community Reacts to York City Police Beating of Young Student
  • YCPD: Policy on License Plate Scanners Coming Soon - What to Expect
  • Councilman Helfrich Calls for Policy on License Plate Scanners
  • Letter to the editor: Keep city police from spying on innocent citizens
  • York County Libertarian Party Calls for Moratorium on Deployment of Automatic License Plate Scanners

    For Immediate Release
    Sunday, September 04, 2011

    Contact:
    York County Libertarian Party
    Evan Mentzell - Secretary
    press@yorklp.org
    http://www.yorklp.org/press


    York County Libertarian Party Calls for Moratorium on Deployment of Automatic License Plate Scanners

    York, PA - The York County Libertarian Party (York LP) is raising opposition to a measure proposed by the council of the City of York, which would authorize the York City Police Department to purchase Automatic License Plate Scanners.

    A Bill authorizing the purchase of automatic license plate scanners is scheduled to be introduced during York City council's legislative session on Tuesday, Sept. 06 at 7pm in York's city council chambers.

    The York LP is calling on public officials in the City of York to table the measure until proper oversight and deployment restrictions are judiciously explored and implemented with the full and open participation of the public. Members say the proposal raises concerns over the protection of innocent citizens' privacy.

    "We need full oversight as to how the data will be collected and stored, and answers to whether or not citizens' private data will be collated and sold to private companies," said David Moser, Chair of the York County Libertarian Party, speaking during a special meeting on the topic.

    Automatic License Plate Scanners have been deployed in various municipalities throughout the nation in recent years, often used to locate, track, and seize vehicles found to be without insurance coverage, vehicles registered to individuals who owe taxes and municipal fees, and even overdue library charges. "We offer the opportunity to the City of York, that we can be the vanguard of openness and transparency and show that these systems can be properly implemented and utilized free and clear of abuse if proper citizen engagement and access is granted early on in the process", said Mr. Moser.


    For more info: http://yorklp.org/press
    Contact:
    email: press@yorklp.org


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