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Tell-all license plates on the way


Date: 2002-12-15

Britain is planning to introduce electronic number plates for cars that can be "read" 24 hours a day by roadside microwave beacons and cameras, reports the UK Daily Telegraph. The new plates are to be introduced in 2004 and the government plans to have them on every road vehicle by the end of 2007, the Telegraph article says.

For those who get hot and bothered about privacy issues the plates are like a nightmare come true. Each plate will have a microchip containing "details of the vehicle's make, type, colour, engine, transmission, date and place of manufacture; its registered keeper; MoT status and insurance validity." Front and rear plates will carry the microchips and the information read from them will be processed by the police national computer in Hendon, in north London, and the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency in Swansea, Wales. The computers can be programmed to find any wanted vehicle. Marked and unmarked police cars will be equipped with readers to pull information from the chips.

By 2004, the DVLA plans to merge driver, vehicle and insurance records into a single database from which the number-plate microchips will be programmed. New regulations will compel motorists and dealers to inform the DVLA within one working week of vehicle ownership changes. The whole system will be financed by taxation. Readers, which eventually be on every road, will cost about 1,000 pounds (about $1,600) and the new license plates about $60. Read the Telegraph article

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