Aaron Jacobs OAKLAND, Calif.—Weeks after Ars published a feature on the scope of license plate reader use, the Oakland Police Department unilaterally and quietly decided to impose a data retention limit of six months.
Prior to April 2015, there had been no formal limit, which meant that the police was keeping data going as far back as December 2010.
That puts the OPD in line with other jurisdictions, including the Drug Enforcement Administration, which decided in 2012 that it would reduce its license plate reader (LPR, or ALPR) retention period from two years to six months. The Silicon Valley city of Menlo Park only retains for 30 days, by comparison.
According to Sgt. Dave Burke, who is in charge of the city’s LPR system, this change was not in response to Ars’ article, but rather was made primarily because the LPR computer—a Windows XP computer with an 80GB hard drive—was full and apparently “kept crashing.”
“We had no money in the budget to buy an additional server,” he told Ars.
“Trying to do this outside of a budget cycle [is difficult],” he said. “The budget cycle doesn’t start until July, which means it won’t happen until August, so you have to…