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Editorial: Technology is changing too quickly

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Vehicle drivers now have a privacy concern every time they drive in west central Minnesota, in the Twin Cities or across Minnesota -- specifically, is your vehicle license being photographically recorded and how long it is being retained by law enforcement there?

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New technology has made it possible for cameras on law enforcement vehicles -- such as the Minnesota State Patrol -- or cameras mounted on stationary positions -- like an Interstate 94 bridge in Minneapolis -- to quietly take a photo of your vehicle's license plate as you drive by.

The camera system then helps law enforcement quickly review the license number against the state database of stolen vehicles, suspended drivers and criminals. This can be a good thing and help improve law enforcement's ability in those areas.

At the same time those new-age cameras are taking the photograph of your vehicle's license plate, the camera system also records the time, date and location of every vehicle.

As a recent Star Tribune report pointed out, this happened more than 805,000 times in Minneapolis in June alone.

These are no state regulations on how this license photo data is maintained, utilized or retained. Thus, every law enforcement agency is now setting its own rules.

The Star Tribune report indicates that the State Patrol maintains the location information for 48 hours before deleting, St Paul police deletes it after 14 days and Minneapolis retains the data for one year.

In addition, this information is still considered public data under Minnesota law because it has not yet been classified.

Are law enforcement agencies abusing the use of such data? Not likely.

Could law enforcement or members of the public abuse the privacy of individuals? It is possible.

It is an issue that quickly needs review by the Minnesota Legislature in 2013.

WEST CENTRAL TRIBUNE OF WILLMAR

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