Privacy Blog

"Friends don’t let friends get spied on.' – Richard Stallman, President of the Free Software Foundation and longtime advocate of privacy in technology.

First Only the Police had License Plate Reader Cameras but Now You Can Have One Too

Specialized license plate reader cameras have been mounted in fixed locations or on police cars for a number of years. These devices scan passing license plates using optical character recognition technology, checking each plate against a “hot list” of stolen or wanted vehicles. The devices can read up to 60 plates per second and typically record the date, time, and GPS location of any plates—hot or not. Now you can do the same.


OpenALR can tell you when unauthorized persons are on your property. The moment an unwelcome visitor drives past your camera, the software can send you an alert. OpenALPR monitors multiple camera feeds 24 hours a day, seven days a week. All you need is one or more inexpensive video cameras, such as the ones commonly sold as home monitoring systems.

Once the camera(s) and software has been installed, you can see the full history of a vehicle as it drives through your property.OpenALR certainly will work for private individuals although perhaps the greater use is for use by corporations. As stated on the OlenALR web page, “We had an employee show up hours late for work every day for months. OpenALPR gave us the proof we needed to correct that behavior.”

OpenALPR has built this software and is giving given it away for free, largely as a way to draw attention to their other paid services: a cloud-based $50 per camera per month solution that includes “high-speed processing” and “priority tech support.” The company also offers a $1,000 per camera per month “on-premises” version that integrates with an existing (usually government) network that has qualms about outsourcing data storage.

Is it legal? Probably. The technology probably does not violate privacy because the courts have long ruled that individuals have no reasonable expectation of privacy in a public place.

You can read a lot more about the new monitoring product at the OpenALR web site at

Categories: Offline Privacy & Security

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