Rekor, which offers controversial license plate-scanning technology, announced today that its program will be used by the state of Oklahoma to spot uninsured vehicles on the road. The Uninsured Vehicle Compliance Diversion Policy of Oklahoma encourages uninsured drivers who are arrested by purchasing insurance and paying a $174 fee to prevent court appearances. Rekor will recognize the make , model, and color of the vehicle as part of this initiative and periodically update the insurance database linked to the different compliance programs of the state. 

Oklahoma’s initiative, introduced in November 2018, was established for uninsured vehicles after the state ranked highest in the country, with figures from 2016 showing that one out of four drivers operated a car without insurance. However, reports have also found signs of racial bias in car insurance, contributing to higher rates and higher coverage gaps for black drivers and other targeted groups.

Rekor, which will collect a processing fee of $43 for each violation of auto insurance, will introduce technology to detect and process notices given to uninsured drivers on the road, including cameras. (When cars are found, Oklahoma law enforcement will provide “notices to respond,” urging owners to get insurance and comply with the law.) Rekor will also include a web site for identifying non-standard and standard car insurance and claims it will hold data that can not be used for other purposes , as long as a car remains out of compliance under Oklahoma law.

Kay and Noble county district attorney Brian Hermanson said, “The purpose of this … initiative is for all drivers to have at least the minimum required amount of liability insurance.” “Innocent motorists are often expected to pay for repair costs, property damage, and hospital bills when an uninsured motorist causes a accident. The new … initiative will help improve that, and we believe it will also create safer roads in Oklahoma for all drivers.

Rekor, based in Maryland, has previously made headlines with a home surveillance service tracking car owners and a partnership with Mastercard to let restaurants create license plate customer profiles. As an extension of its work with law enforcement authorities to provide “supporting public safety” vehicle recognition services, Rekor trumpets the insurance scheme. Rekor’s software is used by over 69 counties in the U.S. and leverages a real-time database in over 30 states that collects more than 150 million license plates per month. Although opponents warn the program might unfairly infringe on the privacy of lower-income drivers, a Rekor spokesperson says the company is in talks to introduce similar programs with four other states.

In Oklahoma, the average cost of automobile insurance is $1,531 a year (12.6 percent above the national average) and, according to the U.S., only 11 states have a lower median household income than Oklahoma ($48,568). The Bureau of the Census and Insure.com. Three states ban the use of credit history in auto insurance ratings, California, Massachusetts, and Hawaii, and New York and Michigan forbid carriers from using educational level or occupation to assess ratings, although there are no such provisions offered by Oklahoma.

Rekor says a national broker has been charged with ensuring that “all” uninsured drivers who visit the online site are “fairly undersigned.” But the company refused to include the broker ‘s name, and errors have already been created. KFOR-TV reported that the system incorrectly reported one out of 20 drivers flagged as uninsured by the system in 2019, in some cases because they had personally registered vehicles but insured them commercially. 

Drivers may also be forced solely because of their home ZIP code to pay extra for auto insurance. Consumer Federation of America research points to disparities between neighbors living within 100 yards of each other, often as near as across the street or even next door, in each area. The higher-priced ZIP code had a lower median income and a higher proportion of non-white residents in each community tested than the adjacent, lower-premium ZIP code. 

In a recent CNET interview, Surveillance Technology Oversight Project executive director Albert Fox Cahn said of Rekor, “When we create this panopticon of vehicle tracking, you create the opportunity to track innocent [and disenfranchised] people in public.” “It’s far past time for our court systems to catch up and realize that they are stripping countless bystanders of their privacy when individuals are deploying these AI systems in public space.”

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