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Gallatin County law enforcement will be installing a camera that reads license plate numbers along Highway 191.

The Gallatin County Sheriff’s Office and Missouri River Drug Task Force recently published a legal notice in the Chronicle, advertising they would install the automated “information technology system” near mile marker 46.

Neither drug task force Cpt. Ryan Stratman nor Gallatin County Sheriff Brian Gootkin responded to multiple requests for comment this week.

The legal notice said the cameras are used to determine ownership of a car, mileage or route traveled, the location of the car and occupants of a car on public highways.

“Access to the (license plate reader’s) data is restricted to authorized personnel in furtherance of a criminal justice purpose,” the notice said.

An authorized user of the database may share the information with another law enforcement agency, as defined by Montana law. However, the notice said, any other use of this data is prohibited. An agency that shares information with other law enforcement, the notice said, will document where the information was sent and the agency that received the information.

The American Civil Liberties Union maintains that implementation of such automatic plate readers pose threats to privacy and other civil liberties.

According to a 2013 report from the organization, location data can reveal sensitive information about a person’s habits and opens the opportunity for abusive tracking, institutional abuse and discriminatory targeting.

The report said more cameras, longer retention periods and widespread sharing allow law enforcement to pinpoint where people are traveling. The report said pictures are entered into a permanent database that is shared widely “with few or no restrictions on how they can be used.”

“If not properly secured, license plate reader databases open the door to abusive tracking, enabling anyone with access to pry into the live of his boss, his ex-wife, or his romantic, political, or workplace rivals,” the report said.

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Freddy Monares can be reached at or at 406-582-2630.

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