Massachusetts Law That Restricts License Plate Recognition Undermines Law Enforcement, Says NetChoice
White paper finds legislation rooted in false fears and misconceptions will reduce effectiveness of LPR technology and subvert efforts to pursue criminals
A Massachusetts law intended to protect citizens is likely to have the opposite effect, by undermining law enforcement, and weakening an important tool for solving crimes and protecting victims, according to a new white paper published by NetChoice.
The legislation aims to curb the use of license plate recognition (LPR) technology by erecting major barriers to law enforcement agencies that collect and retain LPR data. The white paper – authored by Ed Barron and Alan Slomowitz – finds that the proposed restrictions would dramatically reduce the effectiveness of LPR as a law enforcement tool, while providing no new benefit to Massachusetts citizens.
A summary of the white paper, including a link to the full text is available at: NetChoice.org/MassLPR
“In trying to solve a problem that doesn’t exist, Massachusetts legislators are undermining law enforcement and threatening the safety of citizens,” NetChoice Executive Director Steve DelBianco said. “The facts about license plate recognition paint a far different picture than the overheated, inaccurate rhetoric offered by a small, but vocal group of special interests.”
The white paper reveals that license plate recognition is a well-regulated, effective tool that actively contributes to solving major crimes and protecting crime victims, in Massachusetts and across the nation. LPR records only license plate numbers – which are public by definition – and is subject to strict rules for how and whether that data can be linked to personally identifiable information.
The Driver’s Privacy Protection Act of 1994 establishes strict limits on the use of vehicle registration data, and is already preventing the phantom abuses that the Massachusetts law seeks to avert, the white paper finds.
Regarding those phantom abuses, the white paper examines the glaring methodological flaws and outright inaccuracies that went into the American Civil Liberties Union’s report on LPR technology. The ACLU report – which offers little data about the real-world use of LPR – has been invoked as justification for the Massachusetts law and a host of other simmering legislative efforts at the state and federal level. NetChoice responded to the ACLU report at: NetChoice.org/LPRFacts
“Our only request is that lawmakers in Massachusetts and across the country focus on real data, rather than baseless speculation,” DelBianco said. “They’ll see a well-regulated technology that is working to solve crimes and save lives.”