Automate Plate Recognition Law Example – State of Georgia

Georgian State legislators are catching up with the modern tech by passing laws that explicitly mention ALPR / ANPR systems. Take for example this amendment to the Official Code of Georgia. The 2015 version of this statue allowed blanket license plate data collection with few oversights. The new amendments passed in 2018 clarified and tightened up the rules:

  • ALPR is defined as a camera that converts the image data into a computer readable license plate data.
  • License plate data includes more than just the actual number. They expanded it to all the metadata associated with it, e.g. when, where, on what vehicle, etc.
  • Anyone involved in any kind of traffic control or crime prevention may collect plate data automatically. This may includes schools or private car parks.
  • The data can be collected anywhere, 24/7, but can only be accessed for law enforcement purposes, which is defined as “the investigation of an offense or activity initiated by a law enforcement agency“.
  • No data retention past 2.5 years.
  • Data sharing and outsourcing is allowed if these same rules apply.
  • The license plate data is not subject to public disclosure (Open Records Act).

On the surface of it the rules look quite reasonable, just like any other law. Let’s consider these three important points:

  1. The exception from the Open Records Act means no public oversight.
  2. The license plate data cannot be used for research or maintenance of the system.
  3. There is still no provision of sharing anonymized data.

So the data is collected, but isn’t really used to its full potential.

Photo by Aitor Romero.