New legislation would limit license-plate tracking in Missouri

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JEFFERSON CITY - A bill pre-filed on December 1 would limit the time the Missouri government can use automatic license plate readers to track the actions of its residents. 

Senate Bill 85, which was filed by Sen. Will Kraus (R-Lee's Summit), would limit the ALPR information Missouri is allowed to share with the federal government. In addition, it would require government agencies to destroy ALPR data within 30 days of obtaining it, unless they get a warrant. 

ACLU, a civil liberties group, is in favor of the bill, because it agrees with the message it sends to the government when it comes to surveilance. 

"We support Senate Bill 85, because it enforces that the government should not keep data collected through automatic license plate reader systems longer than is absolutely necessary, which decreases the chances of this information being misused," said Jeffrey Mittman, ACLU of Missouri's Executive Director.

Any court proceeding trying to use evidence obtained through ALPR's, which were not warranted, would not be admissable in court under the bill. 

Misuse of license plate data by a government entity would also be a Class E felony under the guidelines of the bill in its current state. 

The Tenth Amendment Center in Missouri said this bill would go a long way toward preventing the federal government from being able to unlawfully track people in Missouri. 

"Passage of SB85 would represent a good first step toward putting a big dent in federal plans to continue location tracking," the group said. 

"The less data the state makes available to the federal government, the less ability they have to track people in Missouri."

Additionally, only detectives and system auditors would be able to access the information obtained from the ALPR's for up to a year after the 30-day time period, even if a warrant was obtained. 

Missouri's 2017 legislative session begins on January 4 at noon.

Mittman said ultimately, this bill will help keep the government from invading the privacy of Missourians.

"In our democracy, the government does not invade people's privacy and preserve information about citizens' innocent activities just in case they do something wrong."