Fail: New York Assembly Committee Guts Bill to Limit Automatic License Plate Readers

A bill introduced in the New York Assembly to put strict limitations on the use of automated license plate reader systems (ALPRs) by the state was drastically altered in committee. The new version of the bill only applies restrictions to private individuals.

Introduced by Asm. Jeffrey Dinowitz on Feb. 13, Assembly Bill 5233 (A5233) was originally intended to ban law enforcement in the state from using ALPRs as a general location-tracking tool of millions of drivers, and would have banned the sharing of legitimately-obtained license plate data with outside sources. It would have also prohibited their use by non-law enforcement agencies.

However, the bill was severely altered by an amendment in the Assembly Consumer Affairs and Protection Committee before being referred to the Assembly Codes Committee, where it stands now. The new language removes all provisions pertaining to law enforcement and state government officials. As it now stands, the bill would only limit ALPR use by private individuals and companies.

The amended version of A5233 would maintain the status quo when it comes to law enforcement use if license plate readers in New York. That means absolutely no limits on how police use ALPRs and what they can do with the information they collect. According to the New York ACLU, “many localities in New York State are not adopting the policies necessary to safeguard the collection, use, sharing and retention of location information.”

Although A5233 was changed to remove most of its effect, its companion bill is still alive and unaltered in the Senate. Senate Bill 7245 (S7245) was introduced by Sen. Brad Hoylman (D-Manhattan) on Apr. 11. It reads, in part:

It shall be unlawful for any business, individual, partnership, corporation, association, or state or local government non-law enforcement entity to use an automatic license plate reader system.

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