Number Plate Recognition

The front page of the Motoring supplement of today’s Irish Times has an article on speed cameras. At the end it casually mentions that Gardaí expect that the cameras will record 11 million plates a month.

Now, I know we’ve got road problems, but I don’t think that limits the recording of cars to just those actually speeding. That looks to me like the intention is to record the licence plate of every car that passes, as predicted here earlier in the year.

This is a breach of Art. 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights. That convention is also recognised by Irish Statute law. It is also a breach of the Constitutional Right to Privacy enshrined in Art. 40.3.1 of the Constitution and acknowledged in Kennedy and Arnold v Ireland [1987] IR 587. That’s Geraldine Kennedy, the current Editor of the Irish Times, which so casually let this pending scandal slip by.


  • celtictigger says:

    Hey… cease with the Kennedy bashing… the Irish Examiner let the following quote from El Duce slip through without a typefaced eyebrow being raised: “We’re bringing judges into the 21st century, and perhaps the 20th century.” A 200 year leap would probably have killed the older ones!

  • celtictigger says:

    I wonder how this blanket embrace from big brother squares with the data protection act. A car licence plate is information which can be used to identify an individual data subject (the national vehicle driver file apparently doesn’t grasp the concept of 2 people co-owning a car – the vehicle is licenced to 1 person). Therefore, it is effectively a surrogate identifier for a citizen. It does not, as one might initially think, identify the car. It identifies a person associated with the car, when used in conjunction with other data sets in the possession of the Government.

    This information can be captured and retained, but under the DPA data subjects need to give consent to having their data captured for a specific purpose and the retention of that data is not permitted beyond the life of that purpose.

    The constabulary can request information that is held to support them in the investigation & detection of a crime.

    However it could be argued that the retention of ALL licence plate scans on a JIC basis (Just-In-Case) would be akin to a direct marketing firm retaining the mobile phone numbers of people who responded to a text for unspecified direct marketing purposes. If memory serves me correctly that’s pretty much what happened in the only conviction we’ve had for breaches of the Data Protection Act.

    Our car is in the wife’s name (Mrs. C.Tigger). She would like the Minister to tell her what purpose her licence plate is being held for in this database, for how long the data will be retained, who the data controller is so she can complain if there is a problem.

    She would also like to opt-out of any unsolicited mail or telephone contact that might arise from the capture of this information.

  • Hmm… it’s the age-old debate between civil rights and safety!

  • Simon McGarr says:

    But Adam, how does an ongoing record, as opposed to live monitoring, improve safety?

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