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Missouri debates legislation that would prevent police from using AI to scan license plates: 'Too much government intrusion'
Yuki Iwamura/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Missouri debates legislation that would prevent police from using AI to scan license plates: 'Too much government intrusion'

In many states, AI-aided cameras have begun to pop up and feed information to police about the comings and goings of both criminals and law-abiding citizens. Police have hailed the technology as a helpful tool tracking down fugitives, while privacy advocates object to the cameras as another step toward government monitoring of every second of our lives.

In Missouri, one Republican is trying to ban police from using the cameras, which are often known by their brand name, Flock. Republican state Senator Mike Cierpiot has submitted a bill in the state Senate that would ban police from using the cameras, at least as applied to cameras that read stationary license plates. In a podcast last week, Cierpiot vehemently objected to being constantly tracked by police and pointed out that there are no controls over what police do with the data after they collect it.

Many police, however, support the use of the cameras, saying they help catch criminals. Lt. Tom Wilkison told KOMO-TV that St. Charles City Police Department caught a Nevada bank robbery suspect last year due to the help of the cameras. "Would not be able to do that without license plate reader technology. Without that technology, it hinders our investigations."

Many, though, question whether the ability to catch the occasional interstate fugitive is worth the trade-off that comes with police being able to track every movement of everyone's car in real time, including St. Charles County Council Member Joe Brazil, who opposed the expansion of the technology in St. Charles County. "It’s too much government intrusion. I mean, how far are they gonna go?"

Brazil also questioned whether the technology would only be used to catch serious criminals or whether it might be turned to nefarious purposes. "Just for serious criminals? Or are they going out and when you start getting citations for your bushes being too wild, are they gonna track you down and give you a ticket when they’re out on the street? I have no idea."

The issue has sparked debate across numerous counties in Missouri, leading some to seek a statewide solution. Other states and cities, including Austin, Texas, have had fierce debates over the technology in the past year.

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Leon Wolf

Leon Wolf

Managing Editor, News

Leon Wolf is the managing news editor for Blaze News. Previously, he worked as managing editor for RedState, as an in-house compliance attorney for several Super PACs, as a white-collar criminal defense attorney, and in communications for several Republican campaigns. You can reach him at lwolf@blazemedia.com.
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