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License plate scanners help recover stolen cars, raise concerns

Officer David Callister was about to drive past the 1991 Nissan sedan when an alert sounded inside his cruiser and an image of a license plate flashed on his laptop. It was a signal that the run-of-the-mill clunker was stolen...

The most frequently cited potential drawback comes from privacy advocates, some of whom worry authorities will use the readers to track the movements of law-abiding people, a risk they said will grow as the devices drop in price and proliferate.

People may drive to abortion clinics, substance-abuse counseling meetings, race tracks or other lawful gatherings but might prefer to keep that private, the advocates said.

"I shouldn't have to take extra precautions to prevent the government from seeing what I am doing every Thursday night," said Lee Tien, an attorney for the Electronic Frontier Foundation, a group concerned about privacy rights in the digital age.

Saturday, September 8, 2007
Associated Press
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