License Plate Scanners: What are the rules?

March 10, 2014

License plate scanner

License plate information is being amassed in vast electronic databases for the purpose of supporting the repossession and debt recovery industry as well as financial, insurance and law enforcement. Each year these groups reportedly add billions of these records to databases. As we may have thought to ourselves at this point… “Is this personal information?” The answer in short is yes and the issue that arises with the information collected from automatic license plate recognition is that there are very few rules governing its distribution and collection.

A prominent company who works in the ALPR system arena is named Digital Recognition Network. “According to the company’s own disclosures, Digital Recognition Network operates in conjunction with around 400 repossession outfits across the US, has increased tenfold its plate scans since September 2010, and adds 70 million scans a month.” – RT (2014) 

How do they do it? These license plate scanners utilize cameras with built-in Optical Character Recognition (OCR) to collect the data from the plate images captured. They are simply people who are employed by companies like Digital Recognition Network who roam public areas like mall parking lots during the day and residential areas at night.

Although there are no current hard rules on the practice of amassing these automatic license plate recognition databases the possible abuses of the information are being brought to light. “We have technology rapidly moving ahead in terms of its ability to gather information about people,” said state Representative Jonathan Hecht, a co-sponsor of the bill. “We need to have a conversation about how to balance legitimate uses of this technology with protecting people’s legitimate expectation of privacy.”- RT (2014) 


Tab Service Company is a Chicago based company with over 53 years of experience as a data processing service provider. We provide business with outsourcing solutions for document scanning servicesdata entry services and mailing/lettershop services. As an SOC2-approved organization, we apply industry-best practices to our approach with clients.