The Associated Press (via the Pantagraph) published an article about the bill (HB 3289) that aims to regulate the use of automatic license plate readers (ALPRs) in Illinois. ALPRs are cameras mounted on police cars that are able to scan the license plate of every car that passes by. The system records the plate, and stores date, time and GPS location of each passing vehicle. ALPRs have the capability of enabling police to undertake widespread, systematic location surveillance, yet are currently unregulated in Illinois. A bill sponsored by State Representative Peter Breen would place modest regulations on the user of ALPRs needed to prevent abuse and protect the privacy of innocent motorists. The Associated Press spoke with ACLU of Illinois Communications and Public Policy Director Ed Yohnka:
"Privacy tends to be the least partisan and least ideological issue on the spectrum today," ACLU spokesman Ed Yohnka said.
Yohnka said police have used license plate readers outside gun shows and mosques, suggesting there is opportunity for abuse and "ideological or partisan reasons to capture the data." Breen noted that such high-speed reading of license plates wasn't available a few years ago, and that "they are collecting data and they are entirely unregulated."