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‘Big Brother’ tracking bill goes to Utah governor

License plate readers » Allows private use, but puts limits on what police can buy.

First Published Mar 11 2014 02:07 pm • Last Updated Mar 11 2014 09:46 pm

The Utah House on Tuesday approved altering laws about "automatic license plate readers" in a way that lawmakers hope will rein in Big Brother tracking of people’s movements but not run afoul of the First Amendment

The House passed SB222 on a 54-17 vote, and sent it to Gov. Gary Herbert for his signature.

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

Utah now limits use of such technology — where cameras can record all license plates in a parking lot, or passing a point on a highway — to law officers and parking-enforcement agents and limits how long they may archive data gathered.

Private companies, which sell the information to automobile finance and repossession companies, say Utah’s regulations violate 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 retains them for more than 30 days.

State law allows law enforcement to store such data for nine months.

A variety of groups last year worried that allowing government to retain data for longer periods could, like Big Brother, allow it to track where people travel.

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 This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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