Californians May Soon Get Electronic License Plates
A bill approved by the state Senate will replace those familiar metal plates with screens that can send, receive, and display data. Naturally, privacy advocates are concerned.
Kecia Lynn has worked as a technical writer, editor, software developer, arts administrator, summer camp director, and television host. A graduate of Case Western Reserve University and the Iowa Writers' Workshop, she is currently living in Iowa City and working on her first novel.
What's the Latest Development?
Currently sitting on California governor Jerry Brown's desk awaiting signing is a bill that will make the Golden State the first in the nation to provide its drivers with an electronic license plate. This plate would essentially be a screen that would display the same data found in a typical static plate: number, registration data, etc. In addition, according to the state senate's analysis of one San Francisco-based company's product, the plate can display a different image, such as an ad, if the car is stopped for a certain amount of time. If Brown signs the bill into law, the pilot program would be limited to 0.5 percent of registered vehicles or fewer.
What's the Big Idea?
California is one of several states, including South Carolina, that's looking into this technology, which would likely use wireless networks to transmit data to and from the plates. However, those same networks would basically allow authorities to know where every car is at any point in time. Electronic Frontier Foundation attorney Lee Tien compared the system to "a moving wiretap" and says that his organization and others hope to work with officials to identify and resolve privacy concerns.
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