License Plate Software Stirs Privacy Concerns


KEN BELSON
The New York Times
February 27, 2010

  • A d v e r t i s e m e n t
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The notion of roving cameras snapping pictures of license plates conjures up television shows like Fox’s counterterrorism series, “24.”

It’s not just fantasy, though. Americans are already watched by a variety of security agencies using electronic surveillance technology, and in this post-9/11 world, there seems to be no turning back.

Privacy advocates, though, are not altogether comfortable with license plate numbers being electronically recorded by commercial operations.

While their views on the gathering this data may vary, privacy groups uniformly agree that the real issue is what happens to the photos after they are taken: how long they are stored and by whom; how secure the data is and whether it might be shared with third parties. Are the photographed license plate numbers matched against other lists, like credit scores or addresses?

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