Va. police under fire for retaining license plate data

WASHINGTON — Civil liberties groups are criticizing Virginia police for scanning thousands of license plates and holding on to the data even if the information does not lead to an arrest or conviction.

Former Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli issued an opinion last year against the practice, saying that if the information gathered isn’t directly related to a criminal case, it “may not be lawfully collected,” The Washington Post reports.

But some law enforcement officials say the opinion is non-binding, adding that they consult with city and legal officials before collecting the data, the Post reports. Alexandria police, for example, hold on to the data for up to two years, while Fairfax and Loudon counties keep it for one year. Arlington and Prince William counties retain it for six months.

Statewide, some jurisdictions remove it immediately, the Post reports.

“They can argue that going door-to-door searching houses without a warrant would help law enforcement solve crimes, as would listening in on all phone calls,” Claire Gasta

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