Breen Sponsors ACLU Bill to Restrict Government Tracking of Citizens


This morning, Rep. Peter Breen (R-Lombard) presented the “Freedom from Automatic License Plate Reader Surveillance Act” to the House Judiciary-Civil Committee, which advanced the measure to the House floor by a unanimous vote of 11-0. The measure is an initiative of the ACLU of Illinois and was vigorously opposed by law enforcement agencies. The Act, HB3289, would limit government use of automatic license plate readers, require that license plate data not be retained for more than 30 days, and prohibit the practice of government agencies selling license plate data to private companies.

“Right now, government agencies have deployed license plate readers across Illinois to track the movements of private citizens,” said Breen. “Illinoisans may not realize that, right now, their movements may be tracked without their permission and with no limitation on that tracking. These devices raise grave privacy issues, and I’m glad to work with the ACLU of Illinois to keep the government from infringing the rights of our residents.“

License plate readers are able to read thousands of license plates per hour, tracking the location and owner of all cars that pass by a particular plate reader. These plate readers can be used to identify cars connected to criminal activity or missing persons. However, government agencies can also easily aggregate data from plate readers deployed across a geographic area to keep track of the location and movement of private citizens. While many other states have enacted regulations on license plate readers, the collection and use of plate reader data are totally unregulated in Illinois today.

Breen’s bill would limit the government to six types of uses for automatic readers: electronic toll collection; traffic enforcement; parking enforcement; access to secured areas; criminal investigations; and for identifying vehicles connected to violations of law or missing persons.

The bill would also allow the government to retain data for more than 30 days in limited specified circumstances, relating to active criminal investigations or legal cases. The bill additionally would require law enforcement agencies to develop and post online their automatic license plate reader use policies, along with developing audit procedures and proper training on the use of readers.

The bill has broad bipartisan support, including chief cosponsors, Reps. Ann Williams (D-Chicago), Elaine Nekritz (D-Northbrook), Keith Wheeler (R-Oswego), and Ron Sandack (R-Downers Grove).

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