Opinion: license-plate scanners are eroding our privacy


Get used to it. There’s a move toward plate-scanning for highway tolls, as cheaper than the current transponder-based systems. Canada’s already using it in a few places; the Northeast Corridor is considering switching over…

The courts have ruled that if it’s happening in public, there’s no reasonable expectation of privacy. The fact that we have incidentally benefited from the fact that the data was hard to collect in mass has been an accidental outcome, and is not promised to continue. If you want explicit rules, now is the time to work with others, and with your congresscritters, to formulate proposals and try to get 'em adopted.

I’m not optimistic, but I wish you luck.

“Privacy? That’s, like, so 20th-century…”

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Time to get that Aston Martin with the revolving numberplates.


The 407 has been using it since it was built I think. In the 90’s. Toll roads are one thing. People expect to be tracked for billing purposes on them and the 407 at least is optional. It’s the police cruisers driving around scanning and logging the location of every plate they drive past. And the traffic cameras that were originally put in to manage traffic in general that now log every plate passing by.

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I’m sorry, you clearly thought the Police were public servants or something crazy like that.


Of course not; they’re a band.


I would think that sufficiently bright IR LED lights would do the trick…

Edit: did some searching… seems like it is not a very effective method. (the most effective seem to be bright near-infrared LEDs) Even if it did work, would not be effective when the car is just parked, unless ya have a good back-up power source.

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I seem to remember an article about mirrors being effective against license plate-checking drones; maybe they could also be useful against these cameras?

Also: why does the title of this article say “opinion”?

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Because this post was explicitly an opinion piece, rather than news?

Because it’s unclear that there’s any privacy-in-public left to protect, or that the concept was ever more than wishful thinking?

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Maybe replacing the license-plate with a LED/OLED display and have it flashing random license tags?

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Note that in most areas, falsifying or obscuring the plate carries legal penalties. Cure may be worse than the disease.

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