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ANPR/ALPR Countermeasures: Stealth Anti-Tracking Infrared License Plate Scanner/Reader Blocker/Jammer

Stealth Infrared Anti-Tracking ANPR/ALPR Countermeasures:

Protect your privacy from automatic license plate recognition technology with the use of the Veil Stealth Coating: an Anti-Tracking Infrared License Plate Scanner/Reader Blocker/Jammer

What is automatic license plate recognition (ALPR/ANPR)?

Automatic license plate recognition systems (often referred to automatic number plate recognition systems outside of North America) is a mass surveillance technology designed to identify owners of vehicles by computer using optical character recognition (OCR) to automatically read your license plate.

Are automatic license plate readers legal to use?

ANPR/ALPR privacy invading technology originated nearly four decades ago in England.  As the technology has become more portable and less costly (although relative to other forms of “traffic” enforcement ALPR costs are still high at about $25,000 per system), these systems are being increasingly deployed throughout many cities in North America.  Like other forms of automated photo enforcement and redlight camera use, the rate of their proliferation is outstripping the rate of privacy laws to limit their use on Constitutional grounds.

Systems being produced like the ELSAG MPH-900 have the capability of scanning hundreds of plates every minute. Other manufacturers include Genetec and 3M.

ANPR/ALPR systems can be used at fixed locations or be mobile (mounted to a police cruiser).

Why your privacy is being invaded by ALPR/ANPR technology

Beyond merely number plate recognition and identification, these systems query multiple databases (called “hotlists”) including driving records, tax collection, criminal databases, and other information not publicly disclosed.  These systems can be used by both private and public entities and the potential for privacy invasion is extremely high.

ANPR/ALPR Force-Multiplying Privacy Invading Technology in Use

Such systems have been used to track movements of millions of law-abiding motorists as well as gathering information about people who attend public events–such as gun-shows and political rallies.  These systems are also being used by both governmental and privately-owned companies to collect meta-data, which is a fancy term to describe the aggregation of plate recognition data to determine the movements of motorists and the places they frequent.  This data can be used to build a profile of any given citizen.

ANPR ALPR Privacy License Plate Recognition Systems - ACLU

ANPR/ALPR  Systems – Privacy & the ACLU

Countermeasures to defeat license plate readers

There is an increasing effort by the states to design license plates to specifically reflect infrared light in the near-infrared spectrum and be easily recognizable to the OCR (optical character recognition) function of these systems.  Plates that have very light solid light backgrounds and dark characters are the easiest to read as these systems rely on sufficient contrast between them.

If you have an ability to acquire a specialty plate issue by the state this would make if harder for these systems to function.   The most desired plates, for a motorist concerned with maximizing their privacy, would be those with complex (ie; “noisy) backgrounds and holographic elements.

Another step a motorist can take to make it harder on these systems is to incorporate a bracket whose edges encroach on the numbers and letters themselves and the state to which the plate is registered.

As the technology has evolved, these systems are transitioning to infrared imaging.  Since these systems operate in the infrared spectrum of light, their use is undetectable and invisible to the naked eye. and can be even be used very discretely in the darkness of the night.

Fortunately, the countermeasure industry and those concerned about taking back our privacy rights have devised several solutions to this growing threat to our civil liberties.

There are some active systems (also called ALPR blockers or ALPR jammers) that are available that flash-back when flashes are detected, but we haven’t found them to be sufficiently reliable in preventing plates from being read or photographed.  Now that many of these systems have shifted to using IR photography and IR-flash photograpy, these ALPR jammers are unfortunately even less effective as they are only designed to work in the visible spectrum.

Beyond an active license plate reader jammer, there is one passive solution designed to counter these systems.  Veil Corporation has engineered and patented a countermeasure called the Veil Stealth Coating. Veil is a broad-band infrared-absorbing coating designed to be applied to plates and clear plate covers and absorbs the light used by these systems.

Plates which are treated will appear very dark to these systems imaging components making optical character recognition much more difficult to perform since these systems need sufficient contrast between the numbers and letters and the background of the plate. (see picture below).  Veil absorbs a wide spectrum of infrared light which makes its effective at countering a variety of these systems which operate on different IR wavelengths including, 810nm, 850nm, 940nm, and 950nm.

License Plate Untreated and Treated with Veil

Plate Untreated and Treated with Veil Stealth Coating as a License Plate Scanner Blocker

Beyond enhancing your anonymity to these privacy invading systems, Veil has the added capability of protecting you from the use of police laser traffic speed enforcement.  Police laser operates in the same spectrum of light, 904nm.  The Veil stealth coating is the only countermeasure of its kind and the fact that it retails for less than $100, makes it the most cost effective multi-use countermeasure available.

The ACLU has taken notice of the privacy invasion of ALPRs but legal challenges, while they are sure to come, are going to take time to work their way through the courts.

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