n Mousaion - The Intelligent Number Plate System : protection or violation of motorists' privacy?

Volume 30, Issue 1
  • ISSN : 0027-2639



A number of ethical issues have come under the spotlight with the proposed implementation of an Intelligent Transport System (ITS), known as the Intelligent Number Plate System (INPS), to be used in the Open Road Tolling (ORT) system designated for certain Gauteng roads in 2011. The project was first initiated in 2006, with full-scale implementation scheduled for 1 January 2008. It was, however, postponed to January 2009 and later to April 2010. When this deadline could not be met, it was postponed to October 2010 and subsequently to October 2011.This research investigated some of the ethical issues related to the surveillance that motorists will experience each time they utilise the impacted roads. This surveillance will be made possible via technologies that include closed-circuit television and radio frequency identification tags. When considering the possible vulnerability of such technologies, it is important to make motorists aware of the authorities' responsibility to protect any identifying information, as well as the potential effect these systems may have on motorists' right to privacy. These rights will be illustrated through an analysis of South African legislation and its relation to the INPS. International examples of ITSs were investigated to determine the possible benefits and challenges related to the implementation of the INPS. In order to supplement the literature research findings, a pilot study was conducted to assess the public perception of the privacy challenges associated with the INPS. The research findings indicated that there was cause for concern related to the ethical issues involved in the implementation of such a system in a South African context.

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