UK tests active RFID license plates

August 23rd, 2005

The prospect of every licensed vehicle being required to have an active RFID tag raises lots of privacy issues, although in many ways ways we have them already with visual tags and modern image processing. It also opens the door to many new opportunities.

Brit License Plates Get Chipped, Mark Beard, Wired News, 9 august 2005

The British government is preparing to test new high-tech license plates containing microchips capable of transmitting unique vehicle identification numbers and other data to readers more than 300 feet away.

Proponents argue that making such RFID tags mandatory and ubiquitous is a logical move to counter the threat of terrorists using the roadways, and that it will scoop up insurance and registration scofflaws in the process.

The U.K. Department for Transport gave the official go-ahead for the microchipped number plates (as they are called in the United Kingdom) last week, and the trial is expected to begin later this year. The government has been tight-lipped about the details. One of the vendors bidding to participate in the trial said it would start with smartplates added to some police cars.

The point of the test is to see whether microchips will make number plates harder to tamper with and clone, said U.K. Department for Transport spokesman Ian Weller-Skitt. Many commuters use counterfeit plates to avoid the London congestion charge, a fee imposed on passenger vehicles entering central London during busy hours.

MORE (via Bruce Schneier)