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License Plate Camera Regulation Passes House

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Cameras that collect information on license plates are thought by some to be an overreach of government. A proposal in the Illinois legislature would regulate the automatic license plate readers.

Some police officers use automated cameras that track vehicles' license plates. In Illinois, there are no regulations on them and the data collected. House Bill 3289 would impose limits, such as how long the data can be kept.

Democratic Rep. Scott Drury says the proposed regulation doesn't go far enough.

"Law enforcement usually, if it wants to use tracking devices has to go to a judge, who has to say there's some probable cause, some sort of cause to start tracking people. We don't have any of that," Drury said.

The sponsor of the measure, Rep. Peter Breen, says some regulation is better than nothing.

"You vote yes, you're restricting the use. Are we restricting it as much as we want? No," Breen said. "We want to do more restriction, but we've got to start somewhere or else we will not be able to restrict these devices, and their collection of our private data, and the various nefarious uses they could be put to."

The Republican from Lombard says his plan would require collected data to be discarded after 30 months.

License plate cameras can be found on police cars or in fixed locations and store information on thousands of vehicles. Supporters say it helps law enforcement. But others have argued they could lead to racial profiling. The House approved the plan.

Lisa Ryan is a graduate student in the public affairs reporting program at the University of Illinois at Springfield. She previously worked at Indiana Public Radio and the college radio station founded by David Letterman. She is a 2014 broadcast journalism and political science graduate of Ball State University.
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