Texas State Rep Introduces Legislation that Would Restrict Warrantless Tracking of License Plates

Earlier this month, State Representative Brian Harrison introduced House Bill 3999 (HB3999), which would restrict law enforcement’s ability to use automatic license plate readers (ALPRs) and retain data. 

On top of that, the bill would impose significant barriers on a federal program that uses states to assist in its efforts to track the location of millions of people through their license plate pictures. 

Mike Maharrey of the Tenth Amendment Center noted that HB 3999 would ban law enforcement agencies from using ALPRs without a warrant or court order. Images and any similar data produced retained by an ALPR that a law enforcement agency operates could only be used “for the purpose of investigating a criminal offense that is a violent offense as defined in Article 17.50(a)(3), Code of Criminal Procedure.”

This bill would mandate the immediate destruction of any data that a law enforcement-operated ALPR gathers unless the data is connected to an ongoing investigation of a criminal offense. 

Furthermore, HB 3999 would ban law enforcement agencies from forging agreements with individuals to supply images or any similar data gathered from an ALPR for a purpose that is not authorized by the law. This bill would compel law enforcement bodies using ALPRs to enact a written policy and thorough reporting requirements about how ALPRs are being used. 

Should HB3999 be passed, it would restrict the gathering and sharing of ALPR data, and also keep it from being entered into a permanent federal database. 

The US has an elaborate surveillance state that snoops on people’s everyday activities and violates their basic right to privacy. The DC uniparty has no interest in rolling back the surveillance state, so the next best alternative is to have states stop cooperating with the federal government on surveillance matters. Change will ultimately come from bottom-up political organization and not from the top. 

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