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Plate-Reading, Car-Finding Camera System Raises Privacy Concerns

Park Assist
Santa Monica Place, a shopping mall in the sixth circle of hell Los Angeles, has installed America's first car-finding camera system in its parking lot. Mall-goers can swing by Park Assist kiosks placed around the shopping center, and search for their car by license plate number. High-resolution cameras then scan the parking garage, and use image-recognition technology to read plates. Once a car has been identified, the kiosk spits out its location to help guide the consumer to their vehicle.

While the system has found fans among the forgetful, it's caused serious concern with privacy advocates. There is nothing to stop a jealous ex from searching the garage for their former lover's car, for example. Even more disconcerting, laws give those taking the footage (in this case, the mall or Park Assist) the right to distribute it as they see fit. That means the system could be used to alert debt collectors, repo men or divorce lawyers when a vehicle is parked. It could also be used to share your shopping habits with market research companies. If Park Assist systems become more widespread, expect a serious backlash from the privacy-loving American public.

Tags: ParkAssist, privacy, SantaMonicaPlace, top, transportation