#3 – Infringing on the Right to Public Photography and Making it Harder to Find Criminals

What’s so iAWFUL?

Legislators are being misled to believe that a tool of law enforcement is unregulated or violates personal information, but that is far from the truth.

(MA H 3068), (MI HB 4981)

The ACLU says, “taking photographs of things that are plainly visible from public spaces is a constitutional right.”  But the ACLU is singing a different song to legislators, telling them to introduce bills to limit the collection and use of public photographs that help law enforcement find stop crimes and save lives – bills limiting license plate readers (LPR) technology.

Law enforcement agencies across the country use LPR technology to solve major crimes like murder and kidnapping, and to save lives.  LPR technology takes a public photograph of a license plate and logs the time and location.  This public photograph helps law enforcement officers track down criminals.

Michigan HB 4981 and Massachusetts H 3068 would dramatically limit the collection and retention of LPR data, radically lowering its value as a law enforcement tool.  And these bills violate the rights of private citizens and companies to take public photographs.

The good news is that HB 4981 and H 3068 are pointless as federal already regulates the use of LPR.

Under existing federal law, no one, not even law enforcement, may access vehicle registration records except for a few specific purposes (such as safety, recovering stolen vehicles, and the sending of recalls or advisories).  Violations of the federal law include stiff fines, punitive damages, and for law enforcement, job loss.

The public photographs analyzed by LPR technology not only protect citizens from harm but helps lower rates on things like car loans and insurance.  Lenders can use LPR to assist in asset recovery of stolen vehicles and they can pass the benefit to consumers through lower loan rates.


HB 4981 and H 3068 had hearings and remain before the legislatures for consideration. However, we expect the introduction of similar bills in other states.

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The iAWFUL reflects the editorial views of the Executive Director of NetChoice and does not necessarily reflect the views of all NetChoice members.

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