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Minneapolis has asked the Department of Administration to protect license plate reader data from being disclosed to the public.
(Published Jan 7, 2013)
The Department of Administration is considering a request from the City of Minneapolis to classify automatic license plate reader (ALPR) data as private or nonpublic data on individuals.
The official notice is posted in the State Register and contains instructions for providing comments to the Information Policy Analysis Division (IPAD). Comments must be submitted to IPAD by Jan. 30.
Requests for ALPR data prompted city’s action
The Minneapolis Police Department is among a growing number of public safety agencies that collect data from ALPRs. According to Minneapolis, its ALPRs, which can be located on squad cars, traffic enforcement vehicles, or at stationary locations, capture information on approximately 800,000 license plates per month.
The data collected by ALPRs, which includes the date and time that a vehicle was at a particular location, is public data under the Minnesota Government Data Practices Act (MGDPA), which means that any person can request and obtain records about the location of a particular car from an agency that uses ALPRs.
The City of Minneapolis has received continuing requests for the data it collects, and has already released data about the location of 2.1 million cars in Minneapolis. This is data that was collected from Aug. 30 through Nov. 29, 2012.
Minneapolis requested that IPAD temporarily classify the data as private or nonpublic data on individuals, a process outlined in the MGDPA. The data that is subject to the request will be private for 45 days, or until IPAD acts on the application.
Because the temporary classification would apply to all state agencies and municipalities, IPAD has requested comments from the public regarding the data classification. If IPAD classifies the data as private or nonpublic, the attorney general must then review and approve or disapprove of the classification.
Legislative action expected this session
If the data is classified as private by IPAD, the classification must be presented to the Legislature no later than Jan. 15, 2014, and it will expire on Aug. 1, 2014. However, the 2013 legislative session begins on Jan. 8, and there is nothing to stop the Legislature from taking action on its own initiative this year.
It is highly likely that in the coming months the Legislature will decide whether to make the data private, regardless of what action IPAD takes. League staff will be closely monitoring this issue through the administrative and legislative processes.
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