Boulder's new photo parking enforcement system isn't on the streets yet, but it's already raising concerns from the Boulder County chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union about how the photos will be used.
Parking officials are finalizing a contract with Genetec -- a technology and security company based in Montreal, Canada -- to buy a state-of-the-art automatic license plate reader called AutoVu.
AutoVu is a vehicle-mounted camera that can recognize license plates as fast as a parking officer is driving. An integrated computer system compares the plates to a database of parking scofflaws, and can pick out vehicles that have been parked too long in pay-to-park or neighborhood parking zones.
The system captures images of vehicles, and notes the exact time and place each image was recorded.
Judd Golden, chairman of the Boulder County chapter of the ACLU, said the level of detail that the database is capable of capturing leads to concerns about "mission creep," or city officials using the information beyond the scope of its intended purpose as a parking-enforcement tool.
"Are they scanning license plates of cars parked at demonstrations?" Golden said. "How could you be assured they aren't going to have these (images) subpoenaed in civil court to be used in divorce cases?.."