South Carolina Experiences Regulate License Plate Readers/ALPRs Cameras


Raw data are always under risk as they are tend to be scooped up, aggregated, run through proprietary algorithms and monetized and most evidently stolen. The technology is evolving faster than the law, paves way for the public to wary the law enforcement utilizing powerful surveillance devices such as the automated license plate readers. The automated license plate readers or commonly termed in brief as the ALPRs are cameras that are somewhat like the swivelling high speed electronic eyes used by the Google to map the world, possessing a capability to capture images of nearly 2,000 license plates per minute and as well as take images of the vehicles and passengers, as for the starters.

The most striking feature of the license plate readers is that they can also “find” or “search for” specific license plates in real time or even produce a virtual map of a target’s daily movements. The data collected can be shared with the local or the federal law enforcement agencies or in some cases can also be sold to the businesses like the insurance companies. A really good thing that came into light is that most states of South Carolina have no absolutely laws regulating the usage of the automated license plate readers. But at the same time, the lack of the legal restrictions on the usage of such contemporary technology is troubling.

Many of the automated license plate readers have been purchased by the local law enforcement agencies through the federal grants but obviously with strings attached. Typically, such agreements enable the federals to access the collected data. In many cases, the feds also require the local agencies to sign nondisclosure agreements that have prevented some of the officers from testifying the criminal cases on how the evidence was gathered. It is really difficult to tell how widespread automated license plate readers are in the South Carolina, while most of the larger police departments have them. As reported, Myrtle Beach has 37 automated license plate readers in addition to 899 surveillance cameras.

Typically, the police use automated license plate readers in order to find suspects by adding the license plate to the hot list or even to identify the vehicles and people in an area where any crime has occurred. This obviously is a powerful tool and a useful one as well but the technology can also be stolen or misused, of which both have been documented.

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