WTOP News
August 18, 2008

WASHINGTON (AP) – Homeland security officials in the Washington area plan to dramatically expand the use of automated license plate readers to prevent possible terrorist attacks.

Officials from Maryland, Virginia and the District of Columbia have agreed to install 200 license plate readers on police vehicles, at airports and along roads. The plan announced Friday will be funded by federal homeland security grants for the area.

Britain used the readers in the 1990s to deter Irish Republican Army attacks. But in the United States, the devices have mostly been used to regulate parking or catch car thieves.

The readers will scan every license plate that passes by and will run the numbers through federal criminal and terrorist databases.

New York officials recently said they plan to scan license plates of all cars entering Manhattan.

Privacy experts say it’s a vast expansion of the use of technology for security.

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