Davenport aldermen OK new police tool for tracking vehicles; ACLU raises privacy concerns

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Davenport City Council members on Wednesday unanimously approved a contract that will give Davenport police an enhanced tool for tracking stolen vehicles, wanted criminals and abducted children.The little-noticed, high-speed cameras mounted on police cars, road signs, bridges and poles photograph thousands of plates per minute. The devices convert each license plate number into machine-readable text and check them against agency-selected databases or manually entered license plate numbers, providing an alert whenever a match or “hit” appears.Use of the devices has led to privacy concerns by the American Civil Liberties Union over how information collected by the readers — including the license plate number and the date, time and location of every scan — is being collected, shared and utilized.In July 2012, ACLU affiliates in 38 states and Washington, D.C., sent public records act requests to nearly 600 local and state police departments, as well as state and federal agencies, to obtain information on how the agencies were utilizing license plate readers.”The documents paint a startling picture of a technology deployed with too few rules that is becoming a tool for mass routine location tracking and surveillance,” according to the ACLU’s website. “When used in a narrow and …

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