Connect with us

Hi, what are you looking for?

Life

Data privacy: Why keeping your vehicle number plate private matters

Positioning your number plate in the public eye is not unlike sharing your national insurance number or bank details online.

Around 35 Volkswagen electric cars are finished every day at the "Transparent Factory" in Dresden
Around 35 Volkswagen electric cars are finished every day at the "Transparent Factory" in Dresden - Copyright AFP/File Richard A. Brooks
Around 35 Volkswagen electric cars are finished every day at the "Transparent Factory" in Dresden - Copyright AFP/File Richard A. Brooks

Only you, vehicle licensing, and legitimate enforcement bodies should know your vehicle number plate details, Geonode Expert Sarah Greenwood has told Digital Journal. Many people are unaware of the substantial risks that can silently surface when they casually post pictures of our cherished vehicles on social media platforms, prominently featuring their car’s number plate.

Why Is This an Issue?

Taking the U.K. as an example, Greenwood explains how every registered vehicle in the country has a unique number plate, acting as an official identifier for enforcement bodies like the police and the DVLA (Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency).

However, when these identifiers find their way into images posted on social networking sites – Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and the like – they can be exploited. Examples include:

  • Fraudulent Activities: Unscrupulous individuals can use your number plate to commit insurance fraud or clone your vehicle.
  • Breach of Privacy: The vehicle registration details can be cross-referenced with other databases to reveal information about the vehicle owner.
  • Criminal Activities: Vehicle details can also be used for criminal intent such as planning burglaries.

“Positioning your number plate in the public eye is not unlike sharing your national insurance number or bank details online, it gifts opportunity to criminals,”, highlights Greenwood.

Tackling the Issue

Greenwood advises a proactive approach to prevent fallout from such a casual act with severe repercussions. The following list elaborates on the key steps everyone should consider:

  1. Scrutinise Your Posts: Before posting any picture of your vehicle online, inspect the image and ensure that no part of your number plate is visible.
  2. Digital Tools: Use digital editing tools, available on most smartphones and social media platforms, to blur or block out the number plate.
  3. Whistleblowing: If you spot someone who has unwittingly posted their number plate details, make them aware of the potential risks.
  4. Privacy Settings: Adjust your privacy settings on social media. Ensure only your trusted contacts can see your posts.

“Be cautious about what details you are putting out there about yourself,” Greenwood adds. “It is better to err on the side of caution than deal with security and privacy issues later.”

Numero Unus – Privacy, Your Priority

Recognising and appreciating the online threat level is a stride in reducing personal risk and increasing security. Sharing number plates on social media might seem harmless, but in the reality of digital spheres, it can lead to breaches of privacy, fraud, and even criminal activity.

Greenwood cautions: “As you venture to post your next vehicle snapshot, consider these points and manage your online presence wisely. Picture yourself, not just through your images, but through the eyes of potential online violators.”

Avatar photo
Written By

Dr. Tim Sandle is Digital Journal's Editor-at-Large for science news. Tim specializes in science, technology, environmental, business, and health journalism. He is additionally a practising microbiologist; and an author. He is also interested in history, politics and current affairs.

You may also like:

Business

A digital ID is an online representation of an individual, which contains personal information.

Business

Quick wins and dedicated transformation leaders are two ways to ensure success, HBR finds.

Entertainment

Oscar-winning songwriter and screenwriter Dean Pitchford chatted about his induction into the Songwriters Hall of Fame.

Entertainment

‘Inside Out 2’ is a rarity in animation as its child character actually ages, introducing new complicated emotions.