A license plate reader (LPR) consist of high-powered video cameras that capture license plate images and software to read those images. The license plate number is then used to search one or more databases to determine whether the vehicle is stolen, the owner has delinquent tickets or may be a wanted criminal. Since the reader can also record the time and location where the image was taken, it can also be used to track the movements of the vehicle.
License plate reader (LPR) technology generally consists of a high-speed camera or cameras, and related equipment, mounted on vehicles or in fixed locations that automatically and without direct human control locate, focus on, and photograph license plates and vehicles that come into range of the device. The system then automatically converts the digital photographic images of license plates and associated data into a computer-readable format. This computer-readable format (also referred to here as a "read") may contain the following information: (1) license plate number; (2) digital image of the license plate as well as the vehicle's make and model; (3) state or province of registration; (4) camera identification (i.e., camera owner and type); (5) global positioning system (GPS) coordinates of the image capture, or other location information taken at the time the information was captured; and (6) date and time of observation. As with all LPR systems, CBP LPR systems may also capture (within the image) the environment surrounding a vehicle, which may include drivers and passengers. LPR technology is designed to collect information from all vehicles that pass the camera.
- "Overview" section: Privacy Impact Assessment for CBP License Plate Reader Technology, at 1.