Dubai Is Testing Digital License Plates Packed With Futuristic Features, Privacy Risks

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Dubai is piloting “smart” digital license plates embedded with collision detecting-sensors and GPS trackers, the BBC reports.

Dubai’s smart plates will also feature digital screens with news-ticker style updates on the weather and road conditions. The pilot launches in May and continues to November.

The smart plates have advanced safety features and automate some of the hassles involved with car ownership. If a collision is detected, for example, it will automatically contact police and ambulances. Bureaucratic fees, paying for fines, parking, or re-registering plates, are all deducted automatically from drivers’ accounts tied to their plates.


But the new features come at a price: privacy. The smart plates are embedded with GPS trackers that tie the car’s physical location to drivers, who are also linked to their bank account they use to pay fees. As the plates are issued by Dubai’s Roads and Transport Authority, there’s obvious concern about the state knowing where people go and where they live.