Privacy SOS

Massachusetts: Take action NOW to stop unregulated license plate tracking!

For years we've been pushing to stop dragnet surveillance of motorists, and now we have a major chance to score a huge win. But we need your help right away.

This Wednesday, Massachusetts state senators will begin debate on budget amendments. Senator Creem filed Budget Amendment #630 to stop the unregulated, warrantless tracking of our every motoring movement. It's imperative that you call your state senator right away to urge them to support this critical amendment.
License plate reader technology should never be used to track innocent motorists. Keeping unlimited information about the movements of people accused of no crime goes too far. Like the NSA, local police are casting a wide dragnet. But we can stop it.

Amendment #630 would allow police to use this technology for legitimate law enforcement purposes, but set appropriate limits: only keep the data for 90 days, and require a warrant to access it. While 90 days is far from an ideal retention limit, it's a compromise that's immeasurably better than the current state of affairs. Since there is currently no Massachusetts law regulating the retention of this sensitive data, private companies and governments can hoard it for eternity, accumulating extremely dangerous troves of information about our location histories. The warrant protection in Amendment #630 will go a long way to ensure that once collected, government agents aren't simply fishing around for interesting information about their political enemies, ex-girlfriends, or bothersome neighbors.

Here's how to take action:
1.      Find your state senator.
2.      Pick up the phone and call right away!

When you reach someone in your senator's office, tell them Massachusetts needs to join New Hampshire, Maine, and other states around the nation that have regulated license plate readers. Tell them to vote in support of Amendment #630!

License plate reader technology takes photographs of your license plate―moving or parked, day or night―and records your car's precise location at precise times. AA meeting? Abortion clinic? Domestic violence shelter? Gay bar? Late night rendezvous? Plate readers track your location history at not just one of these types of places, but potentially all of them, painting an intimate and detailed picture of your private life.

These tools should be used to identify violations, not to store information about innocent people. Government shouldn't track every move you make. Call now and then send this to everyone you know throughout the state. Now's our chance. Let's seize it.

Want more information? Read details about Amendment #630.

© 2021 ACLU of Massachusetts.