Just the Facts
License Plate Recognition, LPR, helps to solve problems for law enforcement agencies and communities. In fact, LPR technology has been used by police to exonerate suspects and solve thousands of crimes, from murders to rapes to abductions. Yet, nothing seems to attract misconceptions and misinformation like a media story about the technology and the cameras that use the technology. From the threats of a surveillance state to privacy breaches, LPR is too often depicted in a harsh and wrong light.
Vigilant’s LPR solution, fueled by vehicle detections and analytics, is a powerful force for good that helps police solve crimes every day.
Four LPR Truths
1. LPR Automates a Manual Task:
The United States is home to the largest passenger vehicle market in the world with over 250 million passenger vehicles travelling on public roads and thoroughfares. Every state mandates by law that license plates be mounted on vehicles and visible for identification purposes. LPR cameras, either stationary or mobile, take photographs of the license plates and capture images of license plates that pass within the field of view of the camera and stamp the images with the date, time and location coordinates of where they were taken – just like any modern smartphone camera.
These cameras simply automate a process that has been done manually for years – capturing publicly visible and publicly available information. The records are stored and can be accessed only by authorized personnel.
2. LPR Does NOT Capture Personally Identifiable Information
Even as LPR data offers valuable insights to develop tips and leads to help solve crimes, the LPR cameras create an anonymous data record, containing the plate image, date, time and location coordinates. The only way to link PII (personally identifiable information), like a name, address or face, to an anonymous data record is to obtain access to a state’s Department of Motor Vehicle database. That access is restricted by a strong federal law – the Driver’s Privacy Protection Act (DPPA) which carries stiff fines and federal prison penalties for any violation.
3. LPR Data is Secure
LPR data generated by a law enforcement agency (LEA), via mobile or fixed cameras, is owned by that specific agency. It is up to each LEA to determine whether they want to share their LPR data with other LEAs. LEAs can fully track and audit access to LPR data, as well set and manage a wide range of data access controls.
Because of the DPPA, the connection of an LPR data record to personal data from DMV records for malicious or abusive reasons is strictly prohibited under existing law.
4. LPR is a Force for Good
Every day LEAs turn to LPR to help them solve crimes, prevent crimes before they occur and improve safety for officers and the communities they serve. LPR is credited with exonerating suspects and developing tips and leads to solve rape, murder, abduction, theft and other crimes.
Privacy concerns often dominate debates about LPR, yet the facts don’t lie. And for the law enforcement agencies that rely on LPR, to the citizens that benefit from LPR, the facts are in. LPR does good and is good for LEAs and the communities they serve.
Our LPR Facts series will continue next week with a detailed discussion of the differences between LEA LPR data and commercial LPR data.