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Friday, 7 March 2014

How The Repo Industry Is Tracking You And Selling Data About You To, Well, Everyone

Tech Dirt

Recently, we've covered a series of stories centered around license plate scanners and the way such information is stored. Despite the protests of the ACLU, local law enforcement agencies have widely deployed the technology and there have also been requests from federal agencies to build a central database of information based on plate scans. If the latest reports are to be believed, however, these would simply be attempts to nationalize an endeavor that has already been undertaken by private industry.

According to the Boston Globe, the helpful groups building this database of license plate scans and providing it to banks, creditors, private investigators and law enforcement agencies are the repo industry and data brokers. And it's far worse than you might think.

While public debate about the license reading technology has centered on how police should use it, business has eagerly adopted the $10,000 to $17,000 scanners with remarkably few limits. At least 10 repossession companies in Massachusetts say they mount the scanners on spotter cars or tow trucks, and Digital Recognition Network of Fort Worth, Texas, claims to collect plate scans of 40 percent of all US vehicles annually.
And that's just one company. The article goes on to note that there are other groups in the data brokerage business that otherwise claim to collect a large majority of US vehicles every year. Those groups freely admit to providing those scan databases to a variety of third parties. 

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