This is the question playing in the heads of many Californians right now. A bill has been passed to allow for a pilot program that will test alternative methods of displaying registration information of cars – much like an iPad as a license plate.

Aside from the license number and registration date, the electronic license plate can also display the state of the car. Authorities can, for example, display “STOLEN” on a stolen car or “EXPIRED” if the registration is already expired.

Electronic license plate
A concept render of an electronic license plate displaying “STOLEN”. Photo of car from SAAB Central.

Use for Advertisements

Aside from license number, these electronic license plates can also display advertisements for brief periods of time like when the car is parked. Of course, the company that will offer the service gets the revenue but owners can choose what advertisements they want to display.

The government can also benefit a lot from electronic license plates since license plates won’t be replaced for several years. Registration dates and design on the display can just be updated.

Security Issues

Now you might be thinking about security. What if the bad guys steal these displays? Can the government track me using my electronic license plate?

Funny that this news coincided with reports that the NSA can crack encrypted messages. Furthermore, the patent of these electronic license plates indicates the use wireless methods in updating their content. GPS can also be used to track the position of a car using an electronic license plate.

If you are offered to use an electronic license plate, would you do it? Would you choose to display something instead of an advertisement when your car is parked?

Source: ARS tecnica