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General Cuccinelli Issues Formal Opinion on Retention of LPR Data by LE Agencies

February 19, 2013 | Virginia News

Virginia State Police Superintendent Colonel W. Steven Flaherty recently requested an official advisory opinion from the Attorney General on the retention of License Plate Reader (LPR) data by law enforcement agencies. Last week, General Cuccinelli issued his formal opinion on the issue.

Below are some highlights from the opinion.  To read the full document, CLICK HERE.

Issues Presented
You inquire regarding the collection, maintenance, and dissemination of data collected from an automated license plate reader ("LPR"). Specifically, you ask whether the Government Data Collection and Dissemination Practices Act (the "Data Act") permits law enforcement agencies to collect, maintain, and disseminate LPR data. You also ask whether such data can be classified as "criminal intelligence information" under applicable Virginia law and thereby exempted from the Data Act's provisions.

Response
It is my opinion that the Data Act does not preclude law enforcement agencies from maintaining, using and disseminating personal information collected by an LPR, provided such data specifically pertains to investigations and intelligence gathering relating to criminal activity. It further is my opinion that data collected by an LPR may be classified as "criminal intelligence information" and thereby exempted from the Data Act's coverage only if the data is collected by or on behalf of the Virginia Fusion Intelligence Center, evaluated and determined to be relevant to criminal activity in accordance with, and maintained in conformance with the criteria specified in § 52-48 of the Code of Virginia. Finally, it is my opinion that data collected by an LPR that is not properly classified as "criminal intelligence information" and not otherwise relating directly to law enforcement investigations and intelligence gathering respecting criminal activity, is subject to the Data Act's strictures and prohibitions.

Conclusion
Accordingly, it is my opinion that the Data Act does not preclude law enforcement agencies from maintaining, using and disseminating personal information collected by an LPR, provided such data specifically pertains to investigations and intelligence gathering relating to criminal activity. LPR data so collected is exempted from the Data Act's coverage. It further is my opinion that data collected by an LPR may be classified as "criminal intelligence information," and thereby exempted from the Data Act's coverage, if the data is collected by or on behalf of the Virginia Fusion Intelligence Center, is evaluated and determined to be relevant to criminal activity in accordance with, and is maintained in conformance with the criteria specified in § 52-48 of the Code of Virginia. Finally, it is my opinion that because the need for such data has not been "clearly established in advance", LPR data collected in the continuous, passive manner, that is not properly classified as "criminal intelligence information" and not otherwise relating directly to law enforcement investigations and intelligence gathering respecting criminal activity, is subject to the Data Act's strictures and prohibitions, and it may not lawfully be collected through use of LPR technology.