With technological advancements come more efficient practices and procedures, but more often than not, increased concern as well. As more and more cameras are installed on the roads you drive on, they are also being attached to police officers' squad cars, which officers use to scan drivers' license plates. This doubles as an attempt to find stolen vehicles, as well as individuals with warrants out for their arrests. While this may help to keep cities safer, it also infringes on our privacy.
The success rate of criminal apprehensions per scanned license plate is exceedingly discouraging. The ACLU published data that shows that for every million plates scanned in Maryland, roughly 2,000 have violated the law: a .02 percent success rate. Furthermore, of those 2,000 violations, most were for registration issues or delinquent emissions checks. Only 47 out of the million license plates scanned turned into arrests for serious crimes (ACLU). California residents have expressed a similar concern over privacy regarding the possible introduction of electronic license plates.
California is deciding whether or not to start issuing electronic license plates. This could save the state's DMV approximately $20 million in postage fees for new registration tags. In addition, lawmakers are also deciding on whether or not these electronic plates should feature advertisements, which could generate much-needed revenue for the state. South Carolina is also considering this move. Despite the potential financial benefits from implementing an electronic license plate system, the plates can also serve essentially as tracking devices.
Along with the proliferation of cameras on police cars and traffic lights, electronic license plates have both benefits and drawbacks. Traffic cameras can make our roads safer and electronic license plates might stimulate a state's economy, but are they worth it if means violating our right to privacy?