When the legislative session ended on May 18th, there was some resolution on data privacy issues in relation to law enforcement. Legislation was negotiated between the House and Senate regarding the use of license plate readers. Police agencies may now only keep the data collected for sixty days. After that time, the data must be destroyed, assuming it isn’t part of an active criminal investigation. Police departments that use the readers are also required to keep logs and submit to independent audits to ensure compliance.
Another hot privacy issue that didn’t make it past the regular session was how to handle the footage gathered from police body cameras. Senator Ron Latz, D-St. Louis Park, had championed the issue and worked for language to address privacy concerns to be added to the Senate version of the license plate reader bill. Body camera legislation that passed the House stipulated that any body camera footage would remain private, although the individual filmed would be allowed access. Latz’s Senate language added that the public could have access to the data if the footage showed excessive force by the police. Privacy advocates and Republican Senators like Brandon Petersen, R-Andover, didn’t believe the Senate bill gave the public enough access and didn’t support final passage.
It’s possible the non-partisan issue could be raised again in the upcoming special session, however Governor Dayton is on record as saying the body cam footage needs to be “confined and carefully limited,” meaning he’d likely come down on the Senate’s side against the open-government advocates desire for freer access.