On Friday, Southwest Minneapolis' state Sen. Scott Dibble (DFL-61) introduced a bill that would curb controversial devices that automatically scan and track license plate data.
The scanners are typically mounted on police cars and log the time and location of any and all cars that pass by. The information is often used to catch car thieves and other criminals. The city currently stores this data for 90 days, but does not make it public. It used to make public nearly all data the plate readers generaged, enabling Star Tribune reporters to track the mayor's car across the city. Many state legislators have spoken out against the readers.
Dibble's bill would keep police from storing data on any car not linked to a criminal investigation, and would make officers destroy the license plate data collected in the course of any criminal investigation if no charges are filed, or if the investigation becomes innactive. The bill also provides a limited oversight mechanism: police departments would have to keep a public record of when, how often, and on how many cars its plate readers are used.
Under Dibble's proposal, the only way police could record and store a driver's license plate information is "if the data indicates that the vehicle or its owner or occupants are the subject of an active criminal investigation or other preexisting law enforcement or correctional proceeding, sanction, or supervision." That data would still be classified "nonpublic."