The national debate about government surveillance and privacy comes to Minnesota Tuesday when DFL State Rep. John Lesch holds a hearing on state and local law enforcement's collection, use and retention of personal data.
"I don't blame law enforcement for using every tool at their disposal to investigate crime, but it is the duty of the legislature to ensure those tools do not violate the rights of innocent people," Lesch said in a release. "The speed of technological growth demands that the legislature, from time to time, inquires to ensure that technology used by government does not violate individual rights."
The issue came up during the 2013 session when elected officials discussed the use of license plate data collected through automated license plate readers.
The cameras, some mounted on moving patrol cars and others fixed on poles, grab photos of license plates of passing cars. The ALPR employs character recognition technology to convert the image to a license plate number.
That number is then automatically fed into several law enforcement computer databases to determine if the plate is connected to a crime. The officer can receive an instantaneous alert that the plate is linked to an ongoing investigation, belongs to a stolen car or a parking ticket scofflaw.
"The police make the argument if there's a crime in progress we want to know where that crime is. And the license plate readers are very good for that," Samuelson said.
On The Daily Circuit, we discuss how much privacy Minnesotans are willing to give up in the name of public safety. How can we be assured our data is being safe-guarded and not misused?