Stephen Tyler

The greatest obstacle to discovery is not ignorance – it is the illusion of knowledge.

Shopping centre now recording all licence plates

Westfield Bondi Junction in Sydney has just released a new iPhone App that lets shoppers find their parked car by entering the licence plate number. The App responds with an image of the vehicle, and directions on how to find that parking spot.

While that is all very convenient, it does open a whole Pandora’s box of other opportunities. Stalking someone? Just enter their license plate to see exactly when they visit the shops, and where their car is parked. Is your employee really sick, or are they just shopping? Wanting to locate a stolen vehicle? Just wait for it to visit the shopping centre.

When visiting a shopping centre, or driving down a public road, your car and its licence plate is visible to the public. But it is only visible to the public at that location. Any surveillance that is possible would be at great cost. By automatically recording this information and making it electronically searchable, the loss of privacy takes on a whole new dimension. It suddenly becomes possible to monitor everybody’s movements, at little or no cost. Does the public have a right to privacy in regards to where they went, when they went there, and what they did in public? What does it mean to have your every movement monitored not only by those physically adjacent to you, but by people located remotely, completely anonymously, and without your knowledge? Not just right now, but also your entire history permanently recorded for all to see and search at some future time. It is technically possible now.

Screen shots and more about the App can be found at Car Advice.

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