Payment of parking with the license plate: the “grey zone” about privacy
The use of the license plate for parking payment raises a series of questions that make this type of transaction fall into a sort of “grey zone”, linked, above all, to the methods of management and processing of personal data by those responsible for the activities of control and cataloguing.
License plate & privacy
We start from an obvious assumption: the license plate allows the quick recognition of a car, so as to trace the owner and the events that affect the vehicle itself.
These are fundamental data for all the bodies in charge or for individuals who need to retrieve essential information regarding a vehicle to be checked or, if necessary, to be purchased.
➡️ Through the Italian Public Registry of Automotive (PRA) it is possible to verify if there is an administrative detention that prevents circulation, but also a seizure, confiscation or foreclosure on a specific vehicle.
➡️ Every citizen can always be informed on who is the owner of a car with only the license plate number. Otherwise it would not be possible to track the details of the insurance of the person responsible of a car accident that has escaped without providing his data.
The “grey zone”
However, when it is necessary to give information concerning the parking position, the scenario becomes more complex.
It is no longer a question of fundamental information about the vehicle, but rather enters a more personal level.
➡️ The parking data, if associated with a license plate number, could indicate the vehicle owner’s habits:
⭕️ where he generally parks;
⭕️ where he parked in the last few months;
⭕️ how long it has stopped in certain parking areas.
These are data that not everyone is willing to share. Above all because it is not clear where this information is stored and who has access to the database in which it is registered.
“Sportello dei Diritti” (Help desk for rights)
A few years ago, in 2014, a system was introduced for the first time in Lecce to increase the accuracy of the checks, verifying the combination between the effective use of space and the vehicle that paid for parking by entering the license plate number.
➡️ Following the entry into force of the administrative procedure, the “Sportello dei Diritti” (Help desk for rights), at the time chaired by Giovanni D’Agata, requested the opinion of a lawyer who, as explained by the sites “L’Altra Pagina” and “L’Eco di Bergamo“, considered that “collecting the plates’ numbers of citizens to allow the payment of the parking would violate the principle of necessity, proportionality, relevance and not excess in data processing”.
➡️ Regarding this problem, Giovanni D’Agata himself intervened in a press release, explaining how “beyond the practical aspects concerning the obvious difficulties for drivers and the loss of time necessary to enter the vehicle plate number, especially for the elderly and for those who do not own the vehicle, an immediate clarification is necessary to let the community know if all the requisites foreseen by the Privacy Code are respected by the new system adopted”.
In this case it was necessary to demonstrate that the recorded data did not damage the right of privacy of citizens and subsequently it was decided to maintain this system of detection.
✔️ In any case, it remains the “grey zone” that can hardly be overcome by keeping this obsolete control system in place.
At Intercomp with Smart Parking Systems, when choosing the type of technology to be developed, we had several choices:
⭕️ on the one hand we could limit ourselves to a “buffer” approach, to solve existing problems with existing technologies, with the risk of not being prepared to create a new solution when new needs could arise;
⭕️ on the other hand, we could think of the problem of parking with a completely new approach. This implied the creation of a highly innovative solution that included new technologies, not yet present on the market, but that could give new answers to new needs.
We have decided to prioritize the functionality of the tools and the ethics of their use. It is right to have accurate data, but they must be anonymous and must also be useful for the citizens.
Entering a plate number does not provide any added value, if not the certainty of control.
✔️ The data we offer using our Smart Parking Systems technology are fundamental information, useful for implementing parking and mobility plans for citizens and municipalities.
✔️ The value we have chosen to cultivate allows the creation of a collective well-being. Cities have changed, data management is a fundamental value for new companies and to interpret new needs.
Being innovative means diving into the future with a great vision, abandoning the approaches that only serve to partially and temporarily buffer problems.
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