You may have seen them on parking enforcement vehicles or police squad cars. Those little cameras pointed out at an angle to record all the license plates that the vehicle passes (or that pass the vehicle) so that on-board software can instantly analyze the data for routine parking offenders, stolen vehicles, BOLOs and so on.

Here’s an example of police using such automated license plate recognition software:

Now, you too can go full “1984” by scanning license plates with ALPR software and an IP camera. OpenALPR (automated license plate recognition (ALPR)) can analyze video feeds to look for unauthorized vehicles, keep a log of traffic or other creative uses one might think up.

The new software allows anyone to scan vehicle license plates. Why? Well, as the software makers’ example video explains, security may be a concern for you or your company.

Along with facial recognition, will such advances in software and technology be the next challenge in balancing privacy with safety or convenience?

Unless states have specific laws against the use of such technology, it is tough to stop someone from using it and collect data for their own “hot list” or for other purposes, whether via a home or office hardwired camera or even a mobile device just like law enforcement uses.

Think this is not happening? Think again. There are private companies gathering such information already across the U.S.


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