RCMP to change licence plate scanning amid privacy fears

The RCMP says it will make changes to its automated licence plate scanning system to comply with concerns raised by B.C.'s Information and Privacy Commissioner.

The Automatic Licence Plate Recognition system allows cameras on police cruisers to record licence plates and vehicle information, which is then compared against information in police databases. Police have said that ALPR systems can help identify missing people, individuals with outstanding warrants, or drivers who have licence restrictions.

The privacy commissioner's probe focused on the Victoria Police Department's use of the licence plate recognition program, which is administered by the RCMP.

The privacy commissioner is concerned about the storage and sharing of information about drivers who are not wanted by police.

The head of the RCMP's Traffic Services Division says it deletes that so-called "non-data" information after it is downloaded by Victoria officers.

However, RCMP Supt. Denis Boucher says that is about to change.

"The privacy commission had raised concerns with regards to the non-hit data that was being downloaded to the RCMP server for deletion. We're looking, or working through an IT solution that will see us eliminate that information in the [police]vehicle, prior to being downloaded to the RCMP server."

Boucher said the RCMP is also changing its description of the program on its website, as the privacy commissioner recommended.

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