Tester: National license plate database a misguided idea
Homeland Security backs off as Senator calls out department
(U.S. SENATE) – Senator Jon Tester is calling out the Homeland Security Department for proposing a national license plate database.
Tester, in a letter to Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson, called the database idea “misguided” and criticized the department for failing to discuss the idea with its privacy and civil liberties offices.
The Homeland Security Department withdrew its proposal earlier this month, but Tester, a staunch defender of Montanans’ civil rights, slammed the department for moving forward with its idea in the first place and wants it completely removed from consideration.
“The premise of such projects as the National License Plate Recognition database service is troubling, particularly in light of multiple reports of privacy overreach by our own federal government,” Tester told Johnson. “I am pleased this request has been rescinded, but remain troubled by the potential impact such projects would have on the civil liberties of Americans.”
According to news reports, the database would store information gathered from automatic license-plate readers or manual input by law enforcement officers on a national database.
“Consolidating data from automatic license plate readers into a federalized database could allow the federal government to track anything from medical visits to church attendance or political rallies, just to name a few,” Tester said.
Tester, who demanded to know what safeguards the department uses to protect other collected information, promised he would work to prohibit federal funding for any such database.
Tester is a co-sponsor of the USA Freedom Act, which would block the NSA from conducting bulk collection of Americans’ records by requiring the agency to prove that it is seeking information related to a foreign country or organization.