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Cameras to record license plate numbers on Route 107

Cars driving in and out of Glen Cove on Route 107 will soon have their license plate numbers recorded by cameras, but the technology has raised concerns about privacy and how the information might be used.

The City Council on Tuesday approved the installation of two license plate readers on the road. Mayor Ralph V. Suozzi said they would improve policing.

"The license plate readers . . . are just really like having another cop there," Suozzi said. "There's no privacy issue, because when you're driving down a public street . . . there's no expectation of privacy."

Suozzi provided few details during the council meeting about the readers, which are being paid for with federal grant money, but gave more information Wednesday. He said that the readers would send data to state computers, which, in turn, would send data back to the city. The data would be accessible to the police chief and four other police department staff, he said. He also said that they planned to store the data for 60 days.

During Tuesday night's meeting Glen Cove Republican Party leader Paul Meli asked Suozzi about the privacy policies regarding data.

Suozzi responded that he wasn't sure the Glen Cove police department would "publicly acknowledge and discuss their policies."

"People are legitimately concerned about their privacy, and I think you should be too," Meli said. "If you've been assured there are privacies protected, that's well and fine, but what about assuring us?"

Wednesday Suozzi said the public would be briefed on the policies next month.

Rachel Levinson-Waldman, a lawyer at the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University who specializes in national security issues, said one concern with license readers and surveillance cameras is that information gathered for one purpose can be used for other purposes later on. "A use that might sound totally reasonable on its face -- you know, being used to solve an urgent crime -- inevitably that information gets used for many more purposes," she said. "It is almost impossible to put real constraints on that. "

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