5/2/2005DC Tracks Innocent Motorists in a Database
The District of Columbia is storing data on the travel habits of innocent motorists stopped in "safety checks."
For several years, Washington, DC police officers have set up "safety checkpoints" to stop motorists to check for seat-belt usage and license information. Drivers are held for questioning in these stops but are not suspected of having done anything wrong.
It now appears that the information collected from motorists at these stops -- name, address, physical description, birth date, location and time of the stop -- is all stored in a police database without the driver's knowledge or consent. Police say the data is used to solve crimes and will also be used for a racial profiling study.
"That's an invasion of privacy, demanding information from a citizen and putting that in a database" Officer Gregory I. Green who represents the DC police union. "People are paranoid across the board about giving up information."
Arthur Spitzer, legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union of the National Capital Area, said he was unaware of the practice but said it sounded like "an abuse." "They're not entitled to force you to cooperate with them to gather personal information without probable cause," he said.Source: Safety Stops Draw Doubts (Washington Post, 5/2/2005)
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