At more and more parking lots, the entry barriers are disappearing. Instead, cameras record license plate numbers. How can this be reconciled with data protection?

Entrance barrier – that’s a thing of the past!

More and more companies are dismantling the entry barrier at the entrance to the company parking lot. Instead, they are filming the license plates of the vehicles entering. In a database it can be determined whether this vehicle is allowed to use the parking lot. The operators of public parking garages take a similar approach. Anyone can drive in just like that. Drivers pay at the ticket machine after entering their license plate number.

More convenience when parking

The advantages are obvious. No driver has to open the window at the driver’s door, rummage for the entry chip or laboriously buy the parking ticket at the entrance. When paying, you no longer have to insert an entry ticket into the machine. Instead, you enter your license plate number.

License plates are personal

Data protection is an issue because vehicle license plates contain personal data. This is surprising at first glance. But with the help of the license plate, it is easy to determine the owner of a vehicle. That is precisely what they are there for. Anyone who records license plates must therefore comply with data protection regulations.

Hardly any problems with company parking lots

With a company parking lot, everything is relatively simple. Its use is regulated in some way in connection with the employment relationship. For example, the employment contract may contain a clause to this effect. There may also be a company agreement. The employment contract or the works agreement are then the legal basis for the employer to record the necessary data. In most cases, company parking spaces cost nothing. In this case, it is sufficient to determine the parking authorization. For this purpose, the license plates of the authorized vehicles are stored in a database. When a vehicle enters the parking lot, its license plate number is checked against this database.

Data for billing

If a parking space costs something, additional data is needed for billing. This is the rule for public parking lots. Billing takes place at the exit. For this, you need the time of entry and exit. Sometimes there are monthly contracts for long-term parkers. In these cases, the parking times are usually irrelevant. In this case, this data is not necessary.

Data protection at the entrance

A frequent topic of conflict is the data protection notices at the entrance to the parking lot. In the case of a company parking lot for employees, they can either be very brief or even omitted altogether. As a rule, employees are sufficiently informed even without such notices. For example, company agreements for company parking lots usually also state which data may be stored and what is done with it.

Parking garages with narrow entrances

With parking garages, it is not quite so simple. The following situation is typical: if you want to park, you only notice at the entrance that there is no barrier. Often enough, the entrances are narrow. There is simply no room for large signs with detailed information. However, the General Data Protection Regulation requires that comprehensive information about the processing of data be provided.

Sensible solutions for practice

For such cases, data protection authorities agree with practical solutions. They look like this: At the entrance, there is a sign indicating that license plates are being collected. Otherwise, it simply says: „Further information in the parking garage. Free exit possible within 10 minutes.“ This wording is just an example, other short texts are also possible. Those who don’t like it can leave free of charge. Those who drive in can then find out in the parking garage how license plate recognition is carried out and what data is stored. If he does not agree, he can get back in the car and drive out free of charge. His license plate number is then recorded when he enters the car park. But the system is set to delete this data completely when the vehicle leaves within the grace period.

Convenience and data protection – it works!

Overall, license plate recognition in parking lots is an example of how convenience and data protection can go together beautifully. It is therefore no wonder that more and more supermarkets and shopping centers are using such systems.