So when you park at the airport they track your license plate #....

I had to park at the Richmond International Airport overnight last night. I parked in short-term parking. When I returned and went to leave the parking deck, I realized I had left the ticket in my other pants. No biggie, I will pay the $12 maximum per day.

I noticed in the attendant’s booth there was a CCTV feed showing a close up of my license plate. The attendant got on her phone and asked the person on the other end what time I came in by referencing my plates. She then said to me, “You came in last night at 8:37 so it will be $18.”

Do any of you find it disturbing that they were able to track where I had been by keeping records of my comings and goings via my license plates? I am disturbed, but it could be paranoia brought on from being up all night. But would they provide that information to the government? To the police? To the courts? Under what circustances?

Not really. Your license plate is on public display. If they kept track of what you were thinking when you drove in, or how much money you had in your wallet, or something, that would be disturbing.

No- that’s one of the purposes of a license plate.

I think, at least at airports, it’s a good thing. With all the well-known potential for mayhem with motor vehicles and airports, tracking the in-and-out times of all license plates is essential.

Not to worry. My tinfoil hat protects me.

:slight_smile: :dubious: :wink:

Hey, it saved you 6 bucks!


I can buy that a license plate is to identify the owner of a vehicle and that the appropriate fees and taxes have been paid for the vehicle…

…but one of the purposes of a license plate is so that there can be a record of where I have been?

Every person could park in short-term parking for a two week business trip, claim they lost their ticket and pay one day’s worth of parking, they’d do that. So it only makes sense that they know how long a vehicle has been on the lot. You’re parking on their property, after all. They have a right to know who is using their facility. And I’m certain that they could and would provide the details of your stay if compelled by the courts or the police. If there was an Amber alert for a missing child and the car had your tag, I’m sure they’d contact someone. OTOH, they probably don’t run every tag that comes in through some kind of criminal database, so you’re probably safe there.


Another purpose is to match the ticket to the plate, another to be able to track vehicles stolen from a parking lot. Like any piece of information, it’s got good and bad uses.

Well, yes, if where you have been was, say, running over toddlers on a sidewalk…

Isn’t this a slippery slope, and really the result of living in a post-9-11 world?

By the logic of many of the posts in this thread, if the tracking is necessary in case I do something harmful or illegal, why limit it to cars? Wouldn’t this line of thinking also support tracking of the “person” in case they do harm while not in their car? If a child is harmed, is it incumbant on us to know who was in the location when it happened? Wouldn’t it be prudent to have a way of tracking indiciduals instead of just vehicles? Possibly with an RFID tag or some other mechanism or ID card?

I have to be honest, this isn’t a “pet” issue for me, and I haven’t really given it a great deal of thought. The situation just leaves me uneasy. I am surprised that there aren’t more people who would consider this an encroachment on civil liberties.

I feel uneasy about it too. Particularly- what happens to that information after you have left the lot? Is it destroyed/erased, or is it logged in some ridiculously huge database somewhere?

How is this an encroachment on civil liberties?

The license plate is required by law to be displayed. It’s out there in public for the world to see. I (a private citizen) can write down your license plate information if I so desire for pretty much any non-illegal purpose I choose.

You don’t HAVE to display this information- but it IS the cost of operating a motor vehicle.

ETA: the company can keep that information if they want to- they can database it and even sell it if they want to. They can’t find out any private information from you, but if they wanted to keep track of the information for whatever purpose, there’s no good reason they cannot.

FURTHER ETA: A license plate is part of your description- is it a violation of my civil liberties for someone to say “A white guy, 5’9”, 175 pounds, black hair stole my purse?" Or for an Irish cultural group to recruit me based on my publicly known nae and address?

License plates have around for over a hundred years, and people have been recording them for nearly as long.

If this is a “slippery slope”, it’s a rather gentle one.

I doubt “civil liberties” has anything to do with it. They probably contract out the parking to a private contractor. For the convenience of parking on their private property, you’re ceding various rights (most of which are documented on the back of your ticket). Further, you have little if any expectation of privacy when you are out in a public situation. You can be photographed or videotaped by pretty much anyone on a whim. (For some reason, tape recording audio seems far more restricted.)

Also, if you are stupid enough to forget where you parked, that information can help you find your car. I travel quite a bit, mostly out of Dulles and BWI and I can’t tell you how many times I see some poor schmoe riding around on the shuttle bus looking because he forgot where he parked. The bus will eventually drop them off at the gates where they begin the search in a more high tech manner. It must work, I never see them wandering when I go back for my next trip.

I actually like that they do this, I think it’s better than the alternative, which is that the airport come up with some arbitrary ‘lost ticket fine’, or charge you the full 1-day for short term parking. At O’Hare short-term is something like $30/day, which is a big :smack: if you were just there for 45 minutes to pick up your boyfriend.

Anyhow, I wouldn’t really call this tracking your comings and goings. Tracking your comings and goings would be standing outside your house noting every time you came and left. I suppose they may be tracking every time you enter and exit your home city via air … but they do that already anyhow.

I think they should come by every 2 hours and put nasty colored chalk marks on everyone’s tires to just be sure they are not getting cheated…

Better yet, spray paint the time on a special plate that you have to buy to park in that lot…

Wait, wait… you have to leave them your passport like you do at hotels when abroad…

I’m not convinced it is an encroachment on civil liberties either, but it does make me uneasy, because I’m like that. Every lot you park at may gather this kind of info to keep, help you find your car with, etc. It bothers me how easily all of these small, innocuous data can be linked to form a complete timeline of a person’s day and description of their habits and routines- link the parking data with the grocery store discount card data, and book buying habits and so on and so on. . .

Again, there is a very legit monetary reason for this - people in short-term parking who stay for a few days and then “lose” their ticket. The tracking has been going on for many years (though not as sophisticated). I know that at SFO they were logging plates in the mid-90s.