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Senate bill would outlaw sale of license-plate-camera data to private parties

State Sen. Jerry Hill, D-San Mateo, has introduced a bill that would prevent law enforcement agencies from selling data gathered by license-plate-reading cameras to private parties such as parking and car-repossession companies.

The city of Menlo Park has bought license-plate readers but does not plan to use them until a privacy policy is approved, and one of the clauses of the policy is supposed to address the sale of data.

Senate Bill 893 would protect the driving public's privacy where there is now no protection, but still allow law enforcement the use of a technology on the roof of a police car that can capture as many as 2,000 plates a minute, according to a statement from Mr. Hill's office.

Citing a report from the Sacramento County Sheriff's Department, the statement says that over 30 days, the cameras led to the location of 495 stolen vehicles, five carjacked vehicles and 19 vehicles involved in felonies – and 45 arrests.

Violations would entitle victims the right to sue and recover damages, including costs and attorneys fees.

The bill would also require agencies to get a court order to gain access to license plate data more than five years old.

"Law enforcement will still be able to continue to use (the) technology to catch criminals, but Californians will have peace of mind that their personal information is safeguarded," Mr. Hill said.

Dave Boyce

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