We've been telling you a lot about license plate readers the past few years. Police departments and government agencies use them to find and arrest criminals, or to stop people driving stolen vehicles.
The readers take photographs or videos of plates, then use mathematical algorithms to search government databases to see if the license plate matches a suspected criminal. The readers can also be used to search for a person's driving records.
Those are potentially good uses that raise big concerns about your privacy. Should the government be allowed to record your license plates and process your information without you even knowing about it?
That's already happening. We recently told you that the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) found footage from some license plate readers streaming online, for anyone to see.
While that's an obvious violation of privacy, what if the person involved was a john looking for a prostitute? That's exactly what Los Angeles city councilwoman Nury Martinez is proposing. She is hoping to shame people into staying away from areas frequented by prostitutes.
Her proposal centers on sending letters to people's homes if they were caught driving through an area known for prostitution. Martinez hopes the men's wives, girlfriends and mothers intercept the letters, to see what their loved ones are up to.
The Los Angeles's attorney's office is evaluating the plan. What if an innocent person was driving through that neighborhood?
Just driving around, and having your license plate read, would give the city access to your Department of Motor Vehicle records. Worse, your friends, neighbors and employer could get access to your records because of the Freedom of Information laws.
This possible violation of privacy, with potentially dire consequences for innocent people, is raising the ire of privacy advocates, including the EFF, the ACLU and StreetCred Software CEO Nick Selby. He said Martinez' proposal is "legislated abuse of technology that's already controversial."
What do you think? Let us know in comments.