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Don't worry — your plate data is not being shared

Motorists parking in downtown Kamloops don
Motorists parking in downtown Kamloops don't have to worry that bylaw enforcement officers are sharing their licence plate data with the RCMP — unless their car has been stolen.
— image credit: Dave Eagles/KTW

Motorists parking in downtown Kamloops don't have to worry that bylaw enforcement officers are sharing their licence plate data with the RCMP — unless their car has been stolen.

Under a new directive from B.C.'s information and privacy commissioner, Victoria Police will no longer be allowed to share licence-plate data unconnected to criminal activity with the RCMP.

In that city, licence-plate data collected from car-mounted cameras is turned over to the RCMP by the Victoria force at the end of each day.

The data dump included information on cars that could be connected to criminal activities.

But, it also included information on vehicles whose owners had not run afoul of the law, what is called a "non-hit."

It's the non-hit data transfer that has Information and Privacy Commissioner Elizabeth Denham crying foul.

“Non-hit data is personal information about the  suspicion-less activities of citizens — information that the police have no reason to believe relates to criminal activity. This information is not serving a law enforcement purpose," Denham said in a release.

According to media reports, Victoria Police Chief Jamie Graham has suggested in the past that the data — which includes the time and location at which an image of a licence plate was snapped — should be stored to create a database for checking alibis.

Instead, Denham said, police should be deleting licence-plate data as soon as it's registered as a non-hit.

While Kamloops uses similar licence-plate reading technology for parking control, community safety and enforcement manager Jon Wilson told KTW, there's only one circumstance in which data collected by the readers is shared with the RCMP.

"We download a database of stolen automobile licence plates from the B.C. Crime Prevention Association's website and that's populated into our database so that, if we come across one of those vehicles, it'll flash up and we contact the RCMP to say that it's come up," Wilson said.

He added that bylaw services only stores licence-plate data when a vehicle has been ticketed for a violation. Data on legally parked vehicles is destroyed. Information that is held is stored with the city and not shared with the Mounties. Wilson said.

 

 

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