License Plate Recognition (LPR) Data
LPR data is data from police cameras that scan and capture images of automobile license plates, and correlate those images to GPS location information. Plate information is then cross-checked against databases of open warrants and stolen vehicles for hits. Controversy surrounding LPR data has largely focused on the retention of “non-hit” data that does not correlate to information in police databases.
Data classification prior to session
Since a temporary classification went into effect on March 18, 2013, certain LPR data (including plate scans and location information) had been classified as “private” data until either August of 2015, or until the legislature acted.
MNCOGI supported the framework that was put forward by Rep. Mary Liz Holberg in 2013, and which was subsequently adopted by the Legislative Commission on Data Practices and Personal Privacy in December of 2014. The framework made all LPR data “private or nonpublic” upon collection, with “non-hit” data being destroyed soon after collection. MNCOGI also called for the public to have as much information as possible about the use of LPR systems.
LPR bills were introduced in both houses. The principle Senate bill was SF 86, while the House introduced both HF 155 and HF 222.
HF 155 followed the recommendations of the Legislative Commission on Data Practices and was supported by MNCOGI. HF 222 and SF 86 both called for the 90-day retention of “non-hit” LPR data, and were backed by law enforcement groups.
After hearings on LPR issues, the Senate Judiciary committee passsed SF 86 with the 90-day retention period intact. The bill was then requested by the Senate transporation committee, where an unsuccessful attempt was made to shorten the retention period for “non-hit” data to zero days.
The House Civil Law committee held a series of LPR hearings, and then passed HF155. On the same day, the committee also heard HF 222, and an attempt was made to amend the bill to shorten the 90-day retention period to 7 days. After an extended discussion, the amendment was withdrawn in order to attempt to forge a compromise bill. HF 155 was laid over.
After meetings involving both law enforcement and transparency activists, a compromise version of HF 222 emerged, which was subsequently passed by the House Public Safety committee. The compromise included a “30-day” non-hit retention period, and provisions aimed at LPR transparency and oversight.
On the Senate floor, language from the Senate body camera bill (INSERT) was amended onto SF 86. A series of amendments aimed at shortening the LPR retention period and modifying the body camera provisions were introduced. Most of the amendments failed. The Senate LPR bill passed with the 90-day retention period intact.
In the House, action to shorten LPR retention failed, and the compromise version of HF 222 passed and was sent to conference committee.
The final conference committee bill featured a 60-day retention period, no body camera language, and much of the LPR oversight language from HF 222. The conference version passed both houses and was signed by the governor.
LPR data is maintained as “private or nonpublic” data for 60 days after collection, and is then destroyed unless it is pertinent to an active criminal investigation. LPR data can only be accessed or shared if it is pertinent to an active criminal investigation, and cannot be sold absent other legal authority. LPR data will be audited on a bi-annual basis, and the audit results will be public. The Commissioner of Adminstration is empowered to order a police LPR program to cease data collection if audits show it to be out of compliance with Minnesota law. The bill also created a new provision of the law enforcement section of the Data Practices Act that prohibits “security data” or “deliberative process” exemptions from being invoked to conceal the mere existence of surveillance equipment maintained by law enforcement agencies.