Virginia judge rules automated license plate data collection by police is illegal

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Does this have implications for automated license-plate-based toll collection systems such as the one on the Golden Gate Bridge?


This just eliminated a huge mobile collection platform used by Va. police.

Yet the readers are still in airport parking garages, airport daily parking sites, bus and train station parking, traffic light mounts everywhere and most likely fed into readers via traffic and other cams where the Police are not directly running the show.

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Good news, and what should have been an open and shut case. Now we just need the same thing to happen in the other 49 states…


It’s a start anyway till some other judge rules the other way.

Of course since states often share this sort of data with others in the region I wonder what effect a ruling like this might have on shared data.

Parking structures are privately owned and/or managed… similar issue but would require different laws.

Those cameras you see on lights are either for traffic monitoring or vehicle detection to change the light. Neither have the resolution to reliably record plates and quite often the detection cameras feed into something like an Iteris PLC that doesn’t even record images. It just looks for vehicle-shaped motion.

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I was thinking Dulles and DCA both are U.S. Government owned.


Good question and doesn’t just apply to cashless tolls. All toll lanes have plate cameras to handle when cashless toll tags don’t read and catch people who run the toll.

Right. And of course we can trust the government when it tells us that’s all those cameras can do. Of course there’s not a recording system and data-mining operations behind them. Of course. Uh huh. Sure. Riiiiiiight.

If you try to use CCTV or vehicle detection cameras for ANPR you’re gonna have a bad time. The optics are wrong, the aiming is wrong, the image processing and encoding is wrong.


The case was brought under a Virginia “data statute”, so I think you’d need to find something analogous in CA state or federal law.

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Private companies can and do collect these datums, then sell it to the police. That’s big business, and it’s for your safety, of course.

it included the following elements all combined: The license plate number, images of the vehicle and license plate and immediate surroundings, plus GPS location and time and date.

So what will Johnny Law have to drop to go back to doing this? I thought it was established that once you leave you home and are in a public space, you can be recorded. After all, you are visible. If someone sees you commit a crime or visit a place in real time or after the fact, you were there, in public. It seems to be the combination of datapoints that’s at issue here.

FWIW, I expect no right of privacy once I step outside and wouldn’t care if every vehicle was tracked at all times, especially in cities. I would have liked to have my stolen car recovered more quickly, back when that happened. But I also think closer scrutiny of drivers would make cars less useful and that’s where we need to go.

I expect you will be assumd to have consented to this somehow in your auto tag registration…not that I agree with that, but I expect that’s the argument.

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