Big brother is watching – are you at risk of being ‘named and shamed’ using your registration plate as identification?
As modern technology becomes ever more sophisticated, many people are now feeling that ‘Big Brother’ is closing in. First we had CCTV recording our every move, then Automatic Number Plate Recognition cameras (ANPR) and now motorists have another arch enemy in the shape of that well-known car enthusiast, Jeremy Clarkson. Never known for his lack of opinions or shy and retiring ways, the Top Gear presenter has now taken to tweeting the registration plate details of bad drivers on the roads of Britain – but is he right to publicly declare both your bad driving habits and your unique car number plate?
Registration details are by their very nature in the public domain, used to put an individual identification stamp on every car on the road – but how would you feel if you checked your Twitter account one day to see that this well-known figure had declared you a terrible driver to all of his followers? Admitting to getting instant satisfaction from shaming drivers who commit a driving faux pas around him, Clarkson takes to the popular social media platform, Twitter, to point out their mistakes and publish the make of car and its number plate – often alongside his own pearls of wisdom on how their driving could be improved.
Some examples of his tweets include:
“Are you in Roehampton driving a yellow van reg M******? Oh dear, you’re not very good at it are you.”
“Silver Lexus P***** on the A3 this morning. Drop back from the car in front and you won’t have to brake every three seconds.”
According to Clarkson, this is the perfect way of outing stupid drivers while avoiding libel laws, something he admits that he can’t do in his magazine column – but does he really have the right to target individuals in this way? Clarkson feels that humiliating these drivers will make them think twice about their poor performance behind the wheel, especially when it could be dangerous to other road users. However, it also means that over 995,000 people who follow him on Twitter will know that you’ve irritated this defiant TV personality so much that he felt the need to vent his grievance publicly.
From a legal point of view, everybody is entitled to express an opinion online even if it also includes details of your registration – but it certainly won’t stop the drivers that he targets feeling pretty fed up at having been outed! This off-road rage also comes at a time where motorists whose cars are fitted with dash-cams are also taking it upon themselves to upload video footage of bad driving onto YouTube.
Do you agree with Clarkson?
The Internet has seen the world become a much smaller place and with the possibility of having your poor driving habits highlighted across the World Wide Web, could this actually act as some kind of deterrent to those who take unnecessary risks with their own and other drivers lives? Where do you stand on this latest development? How would you feel if a video or tweet was published, pulling you up on your driving performance? Is this a case of Big Brother going one step too far? Or is it a reasonable reaction to being tailgated or pressured on the road? Also, if you own a personalised registration plate, does this make you feel more vulnerable, due to you being more easily recognised through this kind of defamation?
We’d love to know your thoughts on this story – please leave a comment!