I know in some, if not all US states, that blocking your license plate from being read is illegal.

There are companies that sell license plate blockers. Granted, none of the products actually work. I dont believe that the fact they dont work prevents them from any prosecution. Not to mention it is false advertising.

Then why are companies that sell products that are solely advertised for blocking cameras from taking photographs of your plate allowed to exist?

  • Can you narrow your question to one specific state (and add the appropriate tag)? – Nate Eldredge Oct 21 '18 at 3:00

One other note is that there's a difference between existence of a law against something, and enforcement of that law.

Let's suppose, for the sake of argument, that some company is falsely advertising such a product, in violation of state false advertising law. Who is actually going to stop and/or punish them?

The state prosecutor / attorney general / consumer protection agency might have the power to order them to stop, or to fine them. But they might well decide, exercising their prosecutorial discretion, that it is not the best use of their time and funds to go after this product. After all, the consumers that would be protected are people who are trying to break the law (and failing, since the products don't work), and the state might rather focus on protecting law-abiding consumers. They might also consider that if they force these products off the market, consumers will look on the "black market" and might find products that actually do work.

Individual consumers might also have the right to sue for false advertising. But in order to do that, the consumer is probably going to have to testify, under oath, that they were attempting to obtain a product that really would block photos, which would be illegal. Incriminating yourself under oath is not a great legal strategy. Anyway, these products are usually pretty cheap, and likely no individual consumer would find it worth the expense of going to court.

So it could be that the companies are breaking the law, but nobody has an incentive to enforce that law against them. Thus they can just keep on doing it.

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There are several points to be made:

  1. Your belief that the product's ineffectiveness doesn't prevent prosecution seems ill founded. On what would a prosecution be based? You can't be prosecuted for having an unreadable license plate if your license plate is in fact readable.

  2. The fact that blocking a license plate from being read is illegal does not necessarily imply that a product that blocks the license plate is illegal. It might be, or it might not be. There are all sorts of products available to buy that can be used to commit crimes that are nonetheless legal to buy and possess.

  3. The fact that a company does something illegal doesn't imply that the company should not exist. Perhaps it has other legitimate activities. The usual course of action for a company that does something illegal is to fine or otherwise punish the company.

If the products are indeed ineffective, then it should be possible to pursue the companies on false advertising grounds.

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  • 1) As I stated in the question, if the product is advertised and marketed that it blocks photos, yet does meet those claims in any way, that is false advertising. 2) Im not denying that, but I would think there would be laws and protections in place. 3) Same as #2. Also, Im fairly sure modifying a license plate in any way is illega. – Keltari Sep 20 '18 at 21:32
  • You mean "yet doesn't meet those claims", I suppose. – gnasher729 Oct 21 '18 at 16:20
  • I think the rules when something is an (illegal) "attempt" to commit a crime are interesting, complicated and not at all obvious. – gnasher729 Oct 21 '18 at 16:21

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