By itself, your license plate doesn’t say much except in what state, month, and year you registered your car. But start tracking where and when that license plate goes, and you’ve suddenly got a whole huge pile of personal data about all the comings and goings in someone’s life. We’ve reported before that license plate scanning by public and private entities is both widespread and unregulated. Now, the ACLU is suing police in one state to get them to stop.
license plate scanners
We’ve shared with you before the that both private companies and law enforcement are combining images of motorists’ license plates with geographic data about where those plates were spotted. Some states have passed laws limiting how long this data can stay in databases or banning its collection altogether, and Virginia has joined that list as of this month. [More]
Do you know everywhere your car has been in the past week? Month? Year? You may or may not remember it all, but there’s a good chance that your license plate has had its photo snapped, and its location recorded, a whole bunch of times in that period. And anyone who can pony up the cash for a subscription to that database can tell exactly where you’ve been.