Pro-abortion rights advocates praise Illinois legislation regulating license plate reader data usage

Planned Parenthood officials attended press conference with secretary of state Thursday

Sarah Schulte Image
Thursday, June 8, 2023
Illinois legislation regulates license plate reader data usage
Supporters say those traveling to visit an Illinois abortion clinic should not feel like a license plate reader camera is tracking them.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- Pro-abortion rights advocates are praising the passage of a first-of-its-kind law that regulates how data from license plate readers can be used.

The new Illinois law prohibits the sale, sharing or transfer of data obtained by these readers for the purpose of prosecuting people seeking abortions.

It also protects people's immigration status.

Automatic License Plate Readers, known as ALPRs, can read thousands of license plates per minute, and they flood Illinois highways. Police can use the technology to provide the time and place of a vehicle in real time.

"Make no mistake; ALPRs are an important tool for law enforcement, especially when apprehending suspects in violent crimes or recovering stolen vehicles and carjacking," Illinois Secretary of State Alexi Giannoulias said.

But Giannoulias said the cameras need to be regulated so they are not tracking data of innocent people. He said this is especially true for the thousands of out-of-state women coming to Illinois for reproductive care.

RELATED: ISP installs more license plate reading cameras along Chicago expressways

Since Roe v. Wade was overturned almost a year ago, a quarter of Planned Parenthood of Illinois patients are from out of state. Many are coming from Midwestern states with bans or severe restrictions.

"They are afraid they will be reported to law enforcement in their home state; they are afraid they are being monitored coming and going in the parking lots of our health centers," Planned Parenthood President and CEO Jennifer Welch said.

Illinois is the first state in the nation to pass legislation banning the use of license plate readers for tracking and penalizing people seeking abortion care.

"These individuals don't need government interference when abiding by our state's laws and freedom," Giannoulias said.

Anti-abortion rights supporters agree with Giannoulias about too much government interference, but they call the bill the secretary of state introduced nothing but a public relations stunt.

"I don't want to see massive government surveillance of the people. That seems fundamentally un-American, but it also seems un-American if you're going to be doing such things to be making exceptions for people involved in abortion rights," said Eric Scheidler, executive director for Pro-Life Action League.

The new bill is waiting for Gov. JB Pritzker's signature.