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Freehold Raceway Mall Installs License Plate Scanners – Privacy Intrusion or Necessary Security Tool? [POLL]

Flikr user LancerE
Flikr user LancerE

It’s either black or white.

Either you’re feeling more secure with the news that the Freehold Raceway Mall, which is the third largest mall in the state and could be viewed as a terrorist target, has installed license plate readers at all its entrances; or that it’s just another intrusion into our privacy.

Questions arise: such as, if this license plate information is to be compiled, who keeps it and for how long?

Should the information go to the police, which the report states it will, how will it be used?

Who else will have access to the information once it’s been compiled?

There are probably a myriad of others that don’t automatically come to mind, but bring to mind the concerns we may have over maintaining a right to privacy.

According to The Asbury Park Press:

License plate readers — which record the license plates of every car that enters and leaves the mall — have been installed over the entrances and exits to the Freehold mall as a counterterrorism measure. They are the first to be installed at a major shopping mall in the state.

Officials with the Monmouth County Sheriff’s Office said the mall was selected because of its potential as a terrorist target.

But constitutional experts worry about what happens to the data after it is collected.

The stationary readers were installed as a joint project between the township, the Monmouth County Sheriff’s Department and Freehold Raceway Mall. The readers are not yet active, police said.

Freehold Township Police Lt. Dean Smith said information technology experts still were working to assure seamless cooperation when the system goes live.

In fact, Freehold Raceway Mall appears to be the first property in the state to utilize license plate readers.

Privacy advocates agreed that shoppers should be publicly warned that their license plate is being scanned, but said people shouldn’t have high expectations of privacy in a public place, such as a mall.

A December 2010 state Attorney General’s Office directive, which took effect in January 2011, said that information and data about “innocent” motorists can be kept for five years. It also limits access and use of stored data.

For instance, giving the information to repossession companies or any other commercial concerns; would that also be allowed?

That opens up a whole other can of worms which have yet to be addressed; and by addressed I mean passing legislation limiting the use of the information once compiled.

Personally I would be concerned by the possible misuse of the information by law enforcement.

However there really isn’t a clear cut answer to how we’d protect ourselves in the face of the war on terrorism without some kind of technology that would eventually place large amount of data such at this into the hands of the government without their being some level of concern.

Does that risk of the above stated privacy intrusion outweigh the benefit of having the added security of possibly averting a terrorist attack at a commercial establishment with a high volume of traffic.

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