Abraham Lincoln once said, “Do not believe everything you read on the internet.”

There are a great deal of misleading statements and partial information being disseminated right now regarding license plate recognition, or LPR.  This information claims that “You are being Tracked” and that “LPR Invades your Privacy.”  This is simply untrue, and we would like to dispel some of this information related to LPR privacy.

MYTH: You are being tracked.
FACT: LPR does not track.  It is not ubiquitous.  LPR captures point in time data on a vehicle, not a person.  In an example cited recently, a Mayor’s license plate was seen 41 times during the course of a year.  There are over 31,500,000 seconds in a year.  The Mayor’s license plate (not the Mayor himself) was seen only 0.0001% of the time during this year.  Is this tracking?

MYTH: LPR Invades Your Privacy
FACT: LPR doesn’t know who you are; it is anonymous data.  A string of numbers and letters with a date, time, and location – That is all.  It is only with a defined permissible purpose that law enforcement may “link” a license plate to an individual using another system to access DMV data.  The act of making this “link” is governed by the Federal Drivers Privacy Protection Act.

MYTH: LPR can be used to see what political rallies and what church you attend, and can be used to determine patterns of what bars you visit, who you hang out with, etc.
FACT: The Federal DPPA already protects against this.

Where everyone agrees is that LPR data should be protected, and that is why we invest heavily in the latest technologies for our data center and why we allow only credentialed law enforcement to access the system.  We agree that LPR data should not be subject to open records requests and should be reserved for law enforcement use only under the Federal DPPA.  We agree that the systems employed within agencies should have proper auditing and management controls in place (to ensure compliance with DPPA and provide accountability), and that is why we put in place audit capabilities in the software including a case number and other information in order to access data, and this is why we regularly consult with agencies on proper policy and training.

Watch this short but lighthearted video from Law Officer magazine that addresses this information in an easy-to-understand way.

Other resources:
NetChoice Facts on LPR Privacy: http://netchoice.org/lprfacts/
Huffington Post Article on LPR Saving Lives: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/hemanshu-nigam/license-plate-recognition_b_4059511.html
Huffington Post Article on Legislating Away Safety: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/hemanshu-nigam/its-too-easy-to-legislate_b_4138896.html
Fox News Story on how LPR Protects the Public: http://www.foxnews.com/tech/2013/11/05/aclu-wants-to-ban-tech-used-to-catch-boston-bombers/