Strong majority against using license plate scanners - 585 participants, 1296 responses

Apr 23, 2016

In May, the governor signed HB 1154, which allows New Hampshire law enforcement to use electronic license plate scanners to identify targeted vehicles. The new law defines a license plate scanner as a device "attended to and operated by a law enforcement officer, and that uses automated high speed camera and optical character recognition technology" to read license plates and check them against a database for flagged cars. On April 22, the LFDA put the issue to its Facebook members, posting the question, “Should law enforcement be allowed to use license plate scanners?”

“Should law enforcement be allowed to use license plate scanners?”

Results: Yes or No Respondents

Participation:

A total of 82% of those participating gave a 'yes or no' response to the question. The remaining 18% of participants engaged in the discussion but did not give a yes or no response. In total, the LFDA received 1,296 responses from 585 individuals. (Click here for details on our methodology.)

What Participants Said:

No: A majority, at 83% of ‘yes or no’ respondents, opposed law enforcement using license plate scanners.

  • “No. What happens to our privacy when they just are curious about what you are up to? Do we really want a big brother?”
  • “I'm not looking at it as a privacy issue. I just think if a cop wants to run my plate he should do it himself and not have a device that scans every car that passes him.”
  • “One, the equipment is expensive. Two, the act is invasive. Three, this is not something NH needs.”

Yes: The minority of ‘yes or no’ respondents, at 17%, supported law enforcement using license plate scanners.

  • “No one out in public has a reasonable expectation of privacy when it comes to anything about (him or) her that is visible to the public.”
  • “I think we need more cameras in general. Could solve a lot of crimes much faster, especially kidnappings.”
  • “If you didn't do anything wrong, why would you care? It may save your or a cop’s life.”

Other: As noted above, 18% of those participating did not give a yes or no response, instead addressing their comments to related questions and issues. These included:

  • Questioning the logistics behind enforcement: “What's the life cycle of the data and who has access?”
  • Broadening the discussion: “How do they know who's driving?”
  • Expressing related privacy concerns: “We lost our privacy when we put the license plate on the car.”

*Editor selection of actual participant quotes. 

Click here to read the full Facebook discussion of this question. 

Know someone who would be interested in these results? Forward them the summary version of this report. 

Should law enforcement be allowed to use license plate scanners? Leave a comment and have your say! 

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