ACLU: Iowa’s automatic license plate readers threaten privacy

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The American Civil Liberties Union wants more information about how Iowa officials will use automatic license plate readers.

The devices are usually mounted on police patrol cars but can also be placed on stationary objects such as buildings or poles.  They can capture images of every license plate within view and can sweep 360 degrees. 

Des Moines and Sioux City officials announced in late July the devices will be added to patrol cars in their cities. 

A statement from the ACLU says the organization is concerned about the balance between citizen privacy and the police potentially tracking and recording the movements of Iowa drivers without necessarily having cause to do so.

“As data is accumulated over months or years, it can be used to learn where a car has been over the course of any particular day,” the statement said. “We are seeking more information

The ACLU requested information from more than a dozen agencies in Iowa, including the Davenport Police Department and the Iowa State Patrol. 

The ACLU filed requests for the information from agencies in 38 states including Iowa and Illinois.  No Illinois cities in our area were among those listed by the ACLU. 

Get more about the ACLU seeking info about automatic license plate readers at this link: