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Despite Criticism, Los Altos Adopts Controversial License Plate Surveillance Policy

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California classic license plates. (DMV)

California classic license plates. (DMV)

MattBigler20100909_KCBS_0384r Matt Bigler
KCBS's Matt Bigler started as a reporter/anchor in 2004, and is now...
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LOS ALTOS (KCBS)— After a year on the beat, a license plate scanner used by Los Altos Police now has a new policy for how long that data can be stored.

Data collected by the police cameras will be kept for up to 12 months with the exception being in cases of criminal or civil investigations, in which case the license plate evidence can be kept indefinitely by Los Altos Police.

Police Chief Tuck Younis said the policy is well balanced.

Despite Criticism, Los Altos Adopts Controversial License Plate Surveillance Policy

kcbs mic blue Despite Criticism, Los Altos Adopts Controversial License Plate Surveillance Policy
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“The community has to feel comfortable with the technology regardless whatever that technology is, whether it be Taser use or license-plate readers that we’re going to put appropriate safeguards on it; have policies in place to make sure that all of their rights are protected,” Younis said.

License plate readers have come under fire recently by the American Civil Liberties Union. Spokesman Will Matthews said police shouldn’t be able to track citizen’s movements.

“And without proper safeguards, license-plate readers can be used to identify, just as an example, every car parked, say near a protest or some sort of other event,” he said.

The ACLU has said license-plate data should be retained for days or weeks, but not months or years.

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