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Senate advances bill on ‘Big Brother’ automatic license-plate readers

Forced by lawsuit » Retains restrictions on law enforcement, not on private companies.

First Published Mar 07 2014 11:49 am • Last Updated Mar 07 2014 09:30 pm

The Senate passed a bill Friday designed to change laws about automatic license plate readers in a way lawmakers hope would rein in Big Brother surveillance of people but not run afoul of the First Amendment

SB222 advanced on a 27-0 vote on its way to the House

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Sen. Todd Weiler, R-Woods Cross, sponsor of the bill, said he hopes it will resolve a lawsuit filed earlier this month against the state by Digital Recognition Network Inc. and Vigilant Solutions Inc. over a law he successfully pushed last year.

The companies contend Utah now limits use of such technology to law officers and parking-enforcement agents and limits how long they may archive data gathered. They say it violates their First Amendment right to take pictures of license plates in public places and store them.

Weiler’s new bill would change the law to allow private companies to take the photos and store them as long as they like. But it would not allow state and local government agencies to buy them from any company that does not comply with the same nine-month storage limit placed on government.

Sen. Howard Stephenson, R-Draper, praised the bill, saying it would avoid using data from private agencies "as a subterfuge" to storage requirements for law-enforcement agencies.

Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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