Scared of having your phone number accidentally spread over the Internet? That may be the least of your worries if GM’s new app and system ever takes off. The app, called DiDi plate will let anyone, with the right app of course, take a snapshot of a car’s license plate and get the driver’s phone number, opening him or her to a world of hurt from unsolicited messages.
It may sound like a feature from a crime procedural TV show, but in the wrong hands, it could be a weapon for mass distraction. And no, that is not a typographical error. The way the system works is that a smartphone app will scan the license plate and compare it to a database that associates plates with their drivers and, of course, their phone numbers.
In theory, this could be a useful feature to contact owners of erring vehicles, warn drivers of opened doors or leaking tanks, or even contact appropriate persons in case of an emergency. In practice, however, it will be too easy to use this as a vehicle for spam, accident-causing distracted driving, and even stalking. Amusingly, when GM China debuted DiDi Plate at Telematics Detroit 2014 early this month, it indeed used that latter scenario, with a random male driver trying to pick up a random female driver using only her license plate as reference.
If that has gotten you all paranoid, the good news is that DiDi Plate is still in its prototyping stage and could very well never leave the borders of China. And even though it may eventually be released for general availability, it will definitely meet some resistance from privacy groups everywhere.