ST. LOUIS (KMOX) – The American Civil Liberties Union is starting up a debate whether license plate reading technology, used by hundreds of police departments across the country, are a helpful crime fighting tool or an invasion of privacy.

“It provides a way to help keep people safer and solve crime,” says St. Louis Police Chief Sam Dotson about the new license plate recognition system.

Dotson tells KMOX the technology, which passively reads license plates and runs them through a database to identify vehicles linked to crimes, is no more intrusive than any other modern security measure.

“Anybody that is a public space has an expectation that they are being recorded,” Dotson says. “If you walk into a bank, you’re being recorded. If you walk into a movie theater, you’re being recorded. If you walk into a shopping mall, you’re being recorded.”

ACLU says the technology allows authorities to track everyone who drives a car.

Dotson says he appreciates the ACLU’s concerns, but says criminals are the only ones who have something to be worried about.

As for the ACLU’s concerns that not enough rules are in place to make sure the technology isn’t abused, Dotson says it’s no more susceptible to abuse than any other database. Dotson says his department has safeguards in place, to make sure the database is not abused.


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