U.S. House Of Reps Votes To Ban Purchase Of License-Plate Cameras

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Moving to protect privacy amidst increased public fear about government surveillance, the U.S. House of Representatives voted Tuesday to ban certain federal agencies from purchasing cameras that capture images of license plates. The measure passed, 254-172, as an amendment to the Transportation and Housing and Urban Development funding bill under consideration on the House floor.

"In the wake of the revelations about NSA data collection, Americans are now learning that police cars and traffic cameras are similarly accumulating a picture of their lives…Just like phone metadata, this geo-location data with time stamps can be used to reconstruct intimate details of our lives, who we visit, where we worship, from whom we seek counseling, and how we might legally and legitimately protest the actions of our own government," Rep. John Fleming (R-La.) said on the House floor Monday as he offered the amendment.

Fleming indicated he wanted to stop federal grant money being used for traffic cameras and other devices that can be used to store license plate info.

"This amendment gives States and local governments a 1-year pause on purchasing these cameras until Congress can deal with the issue more fully," he said. Rep. Tom Latham (R-Iowa), who heads up the subcommittee responsible for the overall bill, opposed Fleming’s amendment because it could block funding for a wide range of photography —including use of cameras where spotting the occasional license plate was just incidental.

"I must oppose the amendment because I think there are some unintended consequences. As far as the way the amendment itself is written, in effect you are banning DOT or HUD from ever purchasing another camera for any use, in essence, because of the possibility it might capture a license plate somewhere," Latham said.

Source: politico.com