The boundaries that delineate public from private sphere have challenged our political system’s foundations since its origination. License plate readers (LPRs), a tool used by law enforcement and private businesses, cause citizens and their government to question the criteria separating public and private information. While police and repossession agencies contend that license plate readers aid their work, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) argues that surveillance equipment interferes with an individual’s right to privacy. Addressing such privacy concerns requires the public to hold its government accountable by petitioning for limits on LPR use and data retention. LPRs also pose unique threats to public administration. Placing this technology into the hands of public and private interests without informing constituents hinders government accountability. Even though LPRs help police maintain a cost- effective way to handle crime, the United States’ federalist structure prevents uniform regulations at local, state, and federal levels. Politics pit those favoring big government against supporters of limited government; thus, creating deadlocks on the issue of LPRs violating an individual’s privacy. LPRs ultimately provide a new opportunity to reopen age-old debates within the fields of political science and public administration.
"The Surveillance State: Do License Plate Readers Impinge Upon Americans' Civil Liberties?,"
Themis: Research Journal of Justice Studies and Forensic Science:
Vol. 3, Article 4.
Available at: http://scholarworks.sjsu.edu/themis/vol3/iss1/4