Oak Brook IL April 24 2018 If you park at Oakbrook Center, your car may be part of a candid camera scenario, as security cars drive up and down aisles in lots and garages, using license plate reading technology to check the plate numbers on vehicles.
The license plate recognition system, which has been used since late 2016, helps Oakbrook Center monitor and enforce that shopping center employees are parking in designated areas and leaving the best parking for guests, explained Marissa Ellenby, senior manager of communications for General Growth Properties, the owner/operator of Oakbrook Center.
“Our research has shown us that parking is a top pain point of our shoppers,” Ellenby stated.
But a senior investigative researcher for an organization that defends civil liberties in the digital world says the use of license plate recognition systems raise privacy questions.
“It’s important that businesses respect their customers,” said Dave Maass of the 28-year-old Electronic Frontier Foundation. “People do care when they find out about this; privacy is a major issue.”
Maass said potential privacy concerns over the type of system being used at Oakbrook Center include whether the system is being checked for cyber security, possible use of a third-party server for collected data, whether any stored photos taken may include more than a license plate, how long data is retained, whether notice of system use is posted and who is authorized to access data, including police.
He said that photos taken of license plates could include bumper stickers.
“Sometimes, a bumper sticker indicates someone’s political views, for example,” he said. “Anyone who sees the vehicle could see a bumper sticker, but if you don’t know for sure who might have access to a photo taken of it with a license plate scanner, that could be an issue.”
The issues Maass raised, including the use of third-party servers, how long data is saved, whether data is used for marketing purposes and if the system is audited, were asked of Ellenby via email, but were not answered.