Bill to limit license plate readers in Va. waits on governor

A police vehicle driven by San Diego County Deputy Sheriff Ben Chassen reads the license plates of cars in a parking lot Wednesday, Sept. 17, 2014, in San Marcos, Calif. (AP Photo/Gregory Bull)

WASHINGTON — The sponsor of a bill aimed at limiting police surveillance of law abiding citizens in Virginia says he “has no clue” whether Gov. Terry McAuliffe will sign it.

The governor’s office told WTOP earlier in the week, after announcing a new sub-panel to analyze police technology like body cameras, that no decision had been made on either of the bills now before the governor. 

Del. Rich Anderson (R-Prince William) sponsored the bill that would now be least restrictive on police, because it would only limit license plate readers. The bill requires police departments to delete the data within seven days if not part of an ongoing investigation. Many departments currently keep the data for months or longer, allowing them to track where vehicles have been over a long period.

Anderson says he “can’t see” McAuliffe signing the other, more restrictive bill that would require police to delete all data from any surveillance technologies after seven days.

McAuliffe offered amendments to the bill to limit the restrictions to just license plate readers, and to allow police to keep the data for up to 60 days. The 60 day time period was rejected by the General Assembly during the reconvened, or veto, session on Apr. 15.

Anderson says he is less concerned about what police may do with data than with the fact that hackers or untoward bureaucrats could misuse the information.

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