Very often in reality television shows, they will have scenes that take place on streets. The license plates of the cars are always censored from view or blurred.

Why do networks bother censoring these plates?

I would imagine that any damage that can be done by some scammer could be done in the real world with any car going down the street or parking lot.

Are they protecting the drivers, or are their legal ramifications for showing license plates?

  • I don't know this for sure but I assume it's just scale. The odds of a scammer looking for license plates to use to make fake plates or whatever happening to see yours on the road is much smaller than that same person scouring YouTube for videos of cars until he spots a make/model he likes.
    – KutuluMike
    Jul 6, 2016 at 0:29
  • plus, people are paranoid about ID theft; in practice I don't think you can do much with someones tag number.
    – KutuluMike
    Jul 6, 2016 at 0:29
  • @KutuluMike Right. If someone had the means to print plates and was just trying to get out of a ticket, he could just print a fake plate with any assortment of numbers, and a camera wouldn't be able to track it. If he got pulled over, a cop would be able to match the driver's license with the plate and see it's either the wrong car or the wrong driver. The only thing stealing a plate could do is send tickets to someone's address, but those would easily be disputed.
    – DeeV
    Jul 6, 2016 at 1:38
  • 1
    Drivers license to plate? Easily dispute parking tickets? Lololol
    – cde
    Jul 6, 2016 at 3:38
  • 4
    It's easier to blur plates than it is to deal with annoying lawsuits. And by that I mean cheaper. But also easy, APR software can be used to identify plates and blur them automatically. Same reason all non-sponsor logos are blurred.
    – cde
    Jul 6, 2016 at 3:41

1 Answer 1


Breaking traffic rules are not the only illegal things one might do that involve the use of a car where the license plate may be recorded and used to track down the offender. Spoofing plates can make it harder for police to track you down if you are committing a crime.

Also, some types of identity theft involve aggregating enough data about a person to convince someone that you are that person. A licens plate is one type of datum that may be useless on its own but could be combined with a street address to compromise someone's car insurance data, which could then lead to a VIN and title info and from there a car loan and then perhaps financial information, as just one example.

Finally, one would not want to fall victim of a failure of imagination. Even if no one right now could come up with a malicious use for a license plate number, that doesn't mean someone won't come up with one in the future. Better safe than sorry.

  • There's also "Your honour, the defendant testified that both s/he and his/her car were in Florida at the time of the shooting, yet this video seen on LA Today clearly suggests the car was at or near the crime scene.." Jul 6, 2016 at 13:28

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