Automatic license plate reading systems (ANPR) are currently used in several German states to match the license plates of all passing cars with police databases. Although Germany does not follow the UK, Denmark and the Netherlands in retaining no-hits in a database, the system is facing growing opposition.
Patrick Breyer, lead candidate of the German Pirate Party for the 2019 EU elections, today presents instructions for the construction of a device to uncover the location of hidden ANPR scanners. 15 scanner locations have already been mapped. Now interested people are to participate in the search for ANPR scanners and provide transparency to road users.
“The mass detection of vehicles is a door opener for various technologies to monitor the movements of any person. It is child’s play for criminals to bypass or trick these systems; a fake number plate suffices. So it is above all millions of law-abiding commuters who end up being tracked permanently,” Breyer comments. “There is no justification for placing all car drivers under general suspicion. If we are serious about abolishing internal border controls in the EU, we should not build new indiscriminate electronic controls either.”
The license plate scanners used in Germany have error rates (false positives) exceeding 90% and are very easy to circumvent. Several constitutional complaints, including one brought by Breyer, are pending at the Federal Constitutional Court. A lawsuit against the recent introduction of ANPR technology for enforcing speed limits near the city of Hannover has been announced. A Government bill to use license plate scanners for enforcing driving ban zones for diesel cars is currently attracting criticism. In Great Britain, Denmark and the Netherlands all vehicle sightings are being retained for weeks or months. For Denmark, an inofficial map of ANPR devices has been published. Police and intelligence agencies have issued alerts for over 3 million license plates throughout Europe, including requests for seizure, checks, questioning or covert collection of information.
ANPR portal of the German Pirate Party: https://piratenpartei.de/kfzscan