Are license plate readers OK to use in private neighborhoods?

A Sacramento neighborhood has installed automated license plate readers in an effort to combat crime, but some are concerned the technology could interfere with the privacy of residents.

A homeowners’ association in a neighborhood known as The Hamptons confirmed the license plate readers will capture information about every car within the community, but the information won’t be transmitted to police automatically unless a crime is reported.

“It’s got a very narrow field of vision, so it’s not capturing the lady walking the dog in the park — it’s looking for a license plate,” Ed Perez, the president of the homeowners’ association, told CBS13 in an interview.

Sacramento attorney and legal expert Mark Reichel said the technology is fine to use, as long as it’s in a public space — not on private property — and as long as it’s not allowing law enforcement to compile wholesale databases of information.

“The police can know it exists, and you can use it in your neighborhood, and you can use it when there’s a crime — you just can’t send [wholesale data to the police] so they can keep compiling data,” Reichel said.

Some residents say the license plate readers are a good thing, a tool that will help prevent crime from happening where they live.

“Having these in the area, I think, will deter people from at least coming into our community to do that,” resident Amy Gidding-Mora said.

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