Tuesday, January 7, 2014

In Rochester, debate on privacy, security, and accountability

Is big brother watching you?

Rochester Issues Forum features Privacy vs Security
January 15, 2014 – 6:30 PM – Rochester Public Library

The national debate on the monitoring of telephone data by security agencies and other electronic surveillance is also present in local police activity. The sheriff is using license plate readers to rapidly scan and identify motor vehicles, the obvious benefits of this technology in locating stolen motor vehicles and drivers wanted by police is challenged by privacy advocates when it is saved in data bases containing thousands of innocent owners. Rochester Police are using a powerful data base search engine to merge information from several public data bases and from police records to compile intelligence on individuals and how they contact others. This is similar to what NSA is doing with phone information, that is, linking individuals in hopes of finding patterns of behavior that that may provide information on potential or actual criminal activity. The question again is what is done with information on the vast members of the public that is captured, or collected, who are not actual or potential criminal suspects.

Recent Minnesota events are concerning because law enforcement officials and other authorized users have accessed information on individuals for purposes unrelated to their duties. What protection are in place to limit access to the information contained in the local systems? For example, until a temporary ruling of a state agency the license plate information was public and available to anyone who asked.

The presenters are Sheriff Dave Mueller, Olmsted County, Police Chief Roger Peterson, City of Rochester, Rich Neumeister, privacy and open government advocate, and Don Gemberling, known as the father of Minnesota Public Record Laws. Moderator will be Jay Furst, Editor Rochester Post Bulletin.

This program is believed to be one of the first public debates on many of these issues outside of the Legislature in Minnesota.

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