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Digital license plates, car tabs, car tab relief, car-tab fees, licensing
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What could go wrong with new digital license plates?


Digital license plates could be the next advancement in car technology that we all use, but one Washington lawmaker is concerned it will result in government tracking.

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“They are basically LCD plates. I have some concerns because they have two-way communication with the state,” State Representative Mark Harmsworth told KIRO Radio’s Dave Ross. “The idea is that these plates show your license number and your tabs, and when you renew your tabs, the tabs automatically get updated wirelessly by the state on your plate.”

As a lawmaker, Harmsworth (R-Millcreek) has been largely vocal about transportation issues. He says that a couple companies are pitching the digital license plate technology around Olympia, but they are “very much in the early phases right now.” Similar products have rolled out in Arizona and California as part of pilot programs. Governments and companies are the initial adopters.

In Washington, they will cost approximately $300, according to Harmsworth. The digital license plates use similar technology as Amazon’s Kindle which uses a paper-like display. In addition to showing license and tab information, the plates could potentially show other messages.

But if the plates come with a wireless connection, Harmsworth worries about the potential of government tracking and data privacy.

“They can indicate if you stall on the car, an Amber Alert or a Silver Alert …” Harmsworth said. “But they are also collecting telemetrics about your car. That’s where my concern is.”

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