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National Car Tracking System Proposed For US

timothy posted about 6 years ago | from the arrogance-of-power dept.

Privacy 563

bl968 writes "The Newspaper is reporting that the leading private traffic enforcement camera vendors are seeking to establish a national vehicle tracking system in the United States using existing red-light and speed enforcement cameras. The system would utilize Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) to track vehicles passing surveillance cameras operated by these companies. If there are cameras positioned correctly the company will enable images and video to be taken of the driver and passengers. The nice thing in their view is that absolutely no warrants are needed. To gain public acceptance, the surveillance program is being initially sold as an aid for police looking to solve Amber Alert cases and locate stolen cars."

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Inductive sensors (4, Interesting) (463190) | about 6 years ago | (#25041011)

Here's some food for thought:

The coils of wire embedded in the pavement, which are used to monitor freeway traffic and to control traffic lights, could detect the type of car that is passing over by the waveform it produces at the sensor. With some clever signal processing you could distinguish roughly the shape and size of the vehicle.

These sensors are everywhere - you might pass a hundred of them in a day. It doesn't take a lot of imagination to then see that if you could gather data from enough of these sensors, you could track a particular vehicle over the course of many miles. Combine this data with the camera images and you can also identify that vehicle.

Re:Inductive sensors (5, Insightful)

riker1384 (735780) | about 6 years ago | (#25041109)

How would it tell my Civic from the millions of other Civics?

Re:Inductive sensors (2, Informative)

Lovedumplingx (245300) | about 6 years ago | (#25041167)

How would it tell my Civic from the millions of other Civics?

The parent said

Combine this data with the camera images and you can also identify that vehicle.

Bit of a stretch I think but maybe not far off.

Re:Inductive sensors (1)

DougF (1117261) | about 6 years ago | (#25041227)

...because it's yours, not theirs...sheesh! Also, there's that pretty distinctive scratch...

Re:Inductive sensors (0, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25041233)

Combine this data with the camera images and you can also identify that vehicle.


RFID (1)

conureman (748753) | about 6 years ago | (#25041253)

Soon after the development of effective fly-by tags, some "crises" will coincidentally lead to a call for action from our fearless leaders.
I know this is my humor-impaired, off-topic inner redundant troll speaking, but I must re-iterate:
Won't someone please think of the children?

Re:Inductive sensors (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25041311)

Combining this information with things like driving style you could ostensibly create a fingerprint for every vehicle. Think of log-in schemes that are based on your typing style and cadence.

Re:Inductive sensors (5, Funny)

Jeremiah Cornelius (137) | about 6 years ago | (#25041413)

This is my Civic.

There are many like it, but this one is MINE.

Re:Inductive sensors (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25041493)

Probably by the spoiler you riveted on, you damn ricer.

Re:Inductive sensors (3, Informative)

Ironsides (739422) | about 6 years ago | (#25041315)

With some clever signal processing you could distinguish roughly the shape and size of the vehicle.

It doesn't take a lot of imagination to then see that if you could gather data from enough of these sensors, you could track a particular vehicle over the course of many miles.

That is a big if. Those sensors are not very precise and I'm not sure it could do much between differentiation of vehicles. I have been stopped at a light and had at least three near identical cars of very close length and weight right around me. I don't believe that the sensors would be able to differentiate between models that are even four years apart from each other.

Re:Inductive sensors (2, Insightful)

ObsessiveMathsFreak (773371) | about 6 years ago | (#25041447)

With some clever signal processing you could distinguish roughly the shape and size of the vehicle.

It would have to be some very, very clever signal processing and you would have to be content with some very, very rough estimates of anything you were looking for.

It's easier to just put RFID chips in license plates and install sensors on the side of the road. They will do this eventually.

I'm all for it (5, Funny)

jollyreaper (513215) | about 6 years ago | (#25041015)

I cannot possibly foresee a way that this could be turned against the public in some horrific Orwellian fashion.

Re:I'm all for it (5, Insightful)

Ethanol-fueled (1125189) | about 6 years ago | (#25041115)

"To gain public acceptance, the surveillance program is being initially sold as an aid for police looking to solve Amber Alert cases and locate stolen cars."

Here in california we already have the Amber alert system tied into those highway warning signs and I see about 1 Amber alert every month or two. What percentage of cars on the streets are stolen? Not a whole hell of a lot either way, so we're going to rape everybody's privacy and invite abuse of sweeping power just for anomalies? It's not like this database will prevent a nuclear attack!

Here's an obligatory horror story from TFA:

In the past, police databases have been used to intimidate innocent motorists. An Edmonton, Canada police sergeant, for example, found himself outraged after he read columnist Kerry Diotte criticize his city's photo radar operation in the Edmonton Sun newspaper. The sergeant looked up Diotte's personal information, and, without the assistance of electronic scanners, ordered his subordinates to "be on the lookout" for Diotte's BMW. Eventually a team of officers followed Diotte to a local bar where they hoped to trap the journalist and accuse him of driving under the influence of alcohol. Diotte took a cab home and the officers' plan was exposed after tapes of radio traffic were leaked to the press. Police later cleared themselves of any serious wrong-doing following an extensive investigation.

I'm going to build motorized, retractable cover for my front license plate if this system is implimented. Fuck that.

Re:I'm all for it (1)

VeNoM0619 (1058216) | about 6 years ago | (#25041271)

Aren't police allowed to place tracker bugs on your vehicle without your knowledge anyways?

Or is that all from the undercover cop TV shows? In which case they are showing a "good" cop doing something illegal.

Re:I'm all for it (2, Insightful)

Firehed (942385) | about 6 years ago | (#25041373)

Aren't police allowed to place tracker bugs on your vehicle without your knowledge anyways?

Not without a warrant.

Re:I'm all for it (5, Informative)

weilawei (897823) | about 6 years ago | (#25041523)

Allowed? They do it anyway [] .

Re:I'm all for it (2, Informative)

AndrewNeo (979708) | about 6 years ago | (#25041433)

Without your knowledge, and without a warrant are two entirely different things. Though, nowadays..

Re:I'm all for it (2, Informative)

PitaBred (632671) | about 6 years ago | (#25041461)

Only if they have a warrant. At least, I think that's what I last heard with the GPS tracking police debacle [] . Somehow these twats think they can get around that, though.

Re:I'm all for it (1)

philspear (1142299) | about 6 years ago | (#25041299)

I'm going to build motorized, retractable cover for my front license plate if this system is implimented. Fuck that.

Well, I think that alone would be grounds for the blue knights to arrest you, and then you'll have no privacy.

Re:I'm all for it (2, Informative)

Bryansix (761547) | about 6 years ago | (#25041369)

Actually a lot of stolen cars are on the streets at any given time. Car theft is a much larger problem then you think. 1.2 million cars are stolen each year... []


Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25041485)

404 Not Found


Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25041597)

did someone hijack lojack?

Re:I'm all for it (3, Interesting)

Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) | about 6 years ago | (#25041471)

Here in california we already have the Amber alert system tied into those highway warning signs and I see about 1 Amber alert every month or two.

Hell, amber alerts are just a bunch of fear-mongering bullshit. The number of children kidnapped each year who actually end up dead or 'permanently' missing is roughly 100 and has been for decades - the amber alert nonsense hasn't dented that statistic. All the others are either custody fights gone extra-legal or runaways, in each case the child is not in any immediate danger that would justify spamming the entire state.

Re:I'm all for it (1)

fyrewulff (702920) | about 6 years ago | (#25041569)

Amber Alerts are not allowed for custody battles. Sadly, this would mean one would be announced every single day and the effectiveness would be lost.

It's also not usable on runaways over 15 years old.

Re:I'm all for it (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25041511)

I'm going to build motorized, retractable cover for my front license plate if this system is implimented. Fuck that.

Mud would likely be cheaper, and would be far harder for the government to outlaw.

Re:I'm all for it (5, Funny)

halcyon1234 (834388) | about 6 years ago | (#25041551)

I'm going to build motorized, retractable cover for my front license plate if this system is implimented. Fuck that.

Jeeze, if you're going to buck the system, why not go all the way and fuck up the system? Don't just hide your plate. Make it work for you.

Take a ride past your local police parking lot, and jot down two or three license plate numbers. Then use a good quality laser printer and make yourself some copies of those "plates". With luck they'll never notice they're effectively tracking themselves

Or heck, just copy ANY plate(s). Randomly switch them around. The system will think cars are vanishing and reappearing all over the place. Or maybe you'll get even luckier, and it will snap a shot of two of the same plates at the same time, and cause a referential integrity error in the system, crashing it.

The minute the implement random manual spot checks by humans to ensure the integrity of the data, slap a Goatse on your plate. You should burn out the employees pretty quickly with that one.

Whatever you do, be creative. The more you can clog the system with crap, the lower their cost:profit^H^H^H public safety ratio goes down. Make it hit a critical point, and the system will be abandoned.

Re:I'm all for it (1)

Antony T Curtis (89990) | about 6 years ago | (#25041553)

Why bother with a complicated cover for your license plate?

Just take the license plates off the vehicle and put it on your front dashboard, perhaps with a map partially obscuring it because "thats where the map landed when you threw it out of the way".

For extra credit, have your windshield be dusty/dirty to make the OCR job just that little bit harder. Perhaps have the wipers in the way a bit too.

Me too! (2, Interesting)

Bearpaw (13080) | about 6 years ago | (#25041177)

I'm buying stock in bicycle manufacturers.

Psssst: better tip for you (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25041333)

Brown shirt manufacturers.

Re:I'm all for it (1)

MrPink2U (633607) | about 6 years ago | (#25041197)

I cannot possibly foresee a way that this could be turned against the public in some horrific Orwellian fashion.

I'm Senator Joe Biden, and I approve this message.

Why Am I Not Surprised (4, Insightful)

FSWKU (551325) | about 6 years ago | (#25041025)

Why does it come as absolutely no surprise that they will sell a way to track your movements with "think of the children"?

Re:Why Am I Not Surprised (3, Interesting)

zulater (635326) | about 6 years ago | (#25041131)

Even for good ideas I'm against them when they try to play the "it's for the children" emotional card. If the idea isn't good enough to stand on it's own then it's not worth it period.

_I_ know where your kid is... Do YOU!??? (0, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25041181)

Who the F#*(*U#$ are these bastidges that come up with this crap?

What freaking universe do they live in where something like this would even be REMOTELY considered acceptable?

See what happens when FemiNAZIS push for women to go to work and dump their kids in daycare?

Welcome to the screwed up world order.

Before you EVER consider putting your child(ren) into daycare make sure you're not chasing some F*(#$ dream at their expense.

There is NO excuse for daycare... children NEED their parents.

Without it you get crap like this, kids shooting each other in school and thousands of other problems that have cropped up over the last 30 years.

CARE FOR YOUR KIDS! Nobody else gives enough of a shit and your kids will turn out just like them.

Re:_I_ know where your kid is... Do YOU!??? (1)

NiceGeek (126629) | about 6 years ago | (#25041371)

Hey Rush, I know you're in a pill-popping haze but did you even read the summary?
"Leading private traffic enforcement camera vendors"

This is nothing but a lame attempt to use fear to sell their crap.

Re:Why Am I Not Surprised (1)

GuyverDH (232921) | about 6 years ago | (#25041347)

And why is it that with more and more *protective* technologies having been developed, and implemented that there are *more* children that have been harmed, abducted or otherwise in trouble than ever before?

Because the technologies proposed to help save children, aren't being used to save children, but other nefarious purposes.

I was safer as a child 35 years ago, than kids today with all their protective, identification and
  locator devices are.

public space (2, Insightful)

roman_mir (125474) | about 6 years ago | (#25041029)

But it's all in public space, so there must be no expectations of privacy, right? RIGHT?

Re:public space (4, Insightful)

hacker (14635) | about 6 years ago | (#25041259)

It is public, until all of that data is aggregated in some unknown and unavailable-to-the-general-public database.

Do you mind having someone email you a turn-by-turn itinerary for every single place you went, how fast you drove, where you stopped, how long you stopped, and so on... from your front door in the morning until you come home at night, in your email every day? Do you have any major problem with that?

This isn't about "seeing" you in public, it's about TRACKING your movements in public. Run that through some beta software to track "suspicious" activity, or appear in more than one place that a "known terrorist" was seen (fast food joint and then the carwash? Now you're a "person of interest").

The implications of this are so massive it is unbelievable.

Re:public space (1)

roman_mir (125474) | about 6 years ago | (#25041335)

I know [] what it's about. [] It's called sarcasm.

Re:public space (4, Interesting)

dgatwood (11270) | about 6 years ago | (#25041497)

Exactly. This is a horrifying privacy invasion, particularly given that it is trivial to create a similar system that doesn't have any of those flaws.

A modest counterproposal: build a database of all stolen vehicles and all vehicles listed in an amber alert. Set up computer systems on each camera with the appropriate detection and set them to log vehicle plate information that is listed in the stolen vehicle/amber alert database permanently and to store all vehicle information in temporary storage that is overwritten when it is more than three hours old. Provide a programming interface that tells each device to check its temporary storage buffer for a single plate upon request and use this when a new amber alert or stolen car is added to the database.

This does two things: it solves the problem of amber alerts and stolen vehicles as defined and goes one step farther by providing a reasonable buffer time during which if an amber alert is called or a car is stolen, prior records can be searched for the vehicle in question (and only the vehicle in question).

Include strict laws that absolutely prohibit any extension of the temporary buffer period beyond 3 hours and prohibit any publication, distribution, or transmission of the data stored in the temporary buffer except for a list of detection events for a single plate as queried through the aforementioned interface. Include strict laws that provide criminal liability for knowingly adding a plate to the suspect vehicle database that does not belong to a stolen vehicle or a vehicle listed in an amber alert or other A.P.B.

Re:public space (1)

SwashbucklingCowboy (727629) | about 6 years ago | (#25041445)

You may not be serious, but without new laws legally speaking that's how this will likely be viewed

Inevitable (2, Interesting)

wurp (51446) | about 6 years ago | (#25041545)

By 2018 or so everyone will be filming the vicinity of their car and/or home at all times anyway. (How better to provide evidence that an accident isn't your fault, or see who broke into your car, etc.) Once quality vidcams and computing power drop to almost $0, and cheap or free software makes it trivial to set up, why not?

Once that data is processed and correlated, everyone, including people who don't have the system, will be tracked everywhere and the information will be available to anyone. Even if only 1% of the cars on the road did this, in a metropolitan area everyone would essentially be tracked everywhere.

We're going to have to redefine our notions of privacy once everything that is detectable from a public space is recorded and distributed.

Of course, that's not quite the same thing as the government recording and correlating the data recorded in the public space and putting it in private databases.

1984 in 2008.... (0, Redundant)

Coldeagle (624205) | about 6 years ago | (#25041041)

Need I say more?

DHS' real agenda (5, Insightful)

megamerican (1073936) | about 6 years ago | (#25041047)

Now the agenda of the DHS should be clear for everyone. It isn't about catching terrorists, its about tracking every citizen. Most of their money goes to putting up cameras in cities across the US, big and small and putting up "fusion" centers which track everything.

Call me crazy or whatever you want. It isn't hard to verify everything I said via google.

SS' real agenda (1)

SpaceLifeForm (228190) | about 6 years ago | (#25041385)

It should be clear, but there are way too many stupid people.

Gripweed quote (1)

conureman (748753) | about 6 years ago | (#25041057)

"You knew this would happen, didn't you?"

This shouldn't be a problem (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25041059)

If you have nothing to hide.

Re:This shouldn't be a problem (5, Interesting)

eosp (885380) | about 6 years ago | (#25041483)

Let me relate an incident that happened to me regarding DUI. If you do not like my language you are free to edit it out, however, I refuse to call a sonofabitch a gentleman of questionable heritage.

I used to drive tractor trailer over the road. I was so self-employed when the Federal DOT passed their new regulation regarding enforcement and investigation of such, despite the fact that in all the accident investigations involving big trucks, whether at fault or not, the commercial driver was subjected to tox and alcohol screens to determine his condition of sobriety and/or impairment at the time of the accident had returned result of far less than 1% of impaired commercial drivers.

I entered Utah at the border between it and Wyoming on I-80. Just across the line is a weigh and inspection station for Utah, almost directly across the highway from the same thing on the Wyoming side.

After being weighed and passed for legal weight I was flagged for inspection and pulled over to the side off the scale. I gathered my log book, my bills of lading, my permit and license books, my Commercial Drivers License and my medical certificate and entered the station house.

Upon getting inside, I said to the trooper on duty, "I don't know what you need, but I brought it all, what do you want to look at first?"

He replied, "I don't need any of that I pulled you in for a random alcohol screen."

I said, "What?"

He said, "You were number 17, I have four numbers I must pull in to screen for alcohol."

I asked him, "Did I do something on my approach to make you think I had been drinking?" He answered,"No."

"Well did I stagger or walk in any manner during the 100 yards walking back here to make you think I had been drinking?" He answered, "No."

"Well then, do you smell any alcohol on me now, or do you have any reason to believe I am drinking?" He answered, "No, I don't understand why you are so upset if you have nothing to hide."

I then asked him, " You really don't understand why I am upset that I must prove to you I haven't committed a crime you have no right or reason to suspect me of?"

He again stated, "I just don't understand why you are so upset if you have nothing to hide."

I said, "Are you really so stupid that you don't understand the reason I am angry that I must prove my innocence, though you have no reason to suspect me?"

He said, "Look, this is my job and I have to do it and if you didn't have anything to hide you shouldn't be upset."

I asked, "Do you really believe that?"

He said that he did.

That was three times I asked, three times the dumb sonofabitch indicated he had no concept of liberty or law. Three is all I will give anybody, and sometimes not that.

I said, "Ok, if you really mean that, take off your pants and your underwear."

He looked incredulous, then asked, "Are you crazy?"

I replied, "No sir, I am not. Take off your pants and underwear, we are going to examine your penis for blood and fecal matter to determine if you have been molesting small boys."

That sonofabitch went through the roof, ranting and screaming and telling me I had no right to accuse him of such a thing. I think he would have shot me if he had had the guts and thought he could get rid of the body before anybody happened along.

I calmly replied, "It's random, I have no reason to suspect you, but now you must prove you have not been sodomizing young boys. After all, if you have nothing to hide you shouldn't be upset. What do you have to hide? Isn't that what you told me three times that you believed?"

He was sputtering and yelling at me and soooo red in the face, I thought I might get lucky and the no good sonofabitch would die from a stroke. He screamed at me, "That's entirely different!"

I told him, "The only thing different is now we are talking about you proving something I have no right to suspect you of. Evidently you didn't believe all that shit you told me, about nothing to hide shouldn't bother you. We have proven you are a liar and a coward who will not stand up for your country or its rules."

If ever I saw a man who wanted to kill me (and I have seen several) he certainly could be counted among them.

I am sure I didn't convert him to a decent American, but I damn made him look at himself and realize that somebody else knew him for what he was.

Tracking your every locaiton (1)

crashmph (910095) | about 6 years ago | (#25041065)

Great now I am sure there will be some company out there that will use this as a means of tracking people and selling it as a service. Kind of like the cell phone tracking for kids. I bet there will be some husbands or wives out there who want to see if their significant other was really where they claimed to be.

Re:Tracking your every locaiton (1)

kellyb9 (954229) | about 6 years ago | (#25041265)

Great now I am sure there will be some company out there that will use this as a means of tracking people and selling it as a service.

I knew it would happen. I just assumed it would have something to do with Google.

Dude, (4, Funny)

IceCreamGuy (904648) | about 6 years ago | (#25041073)

Where's everybody's car?

Re:Dude, (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25041361)

Where's everybody's car?

Soon, Google will be able to tell you.


Larry and Serge

Appalling development (1)

uberdilligaff (988232) | about 6 years ago | (#25041097)

This is the predictable, but despicable extension of the surveillance society. I, for one, do not want to live under the ever-widening stare of RoboCop. George Orwell is surely saying 'I told you so' from his grave. Fight this wherever you can.

This is America (5, Funny)

Kreigaffe (765218) | about 6 years ago | (#25041101)

Don't expect to see this go anywhere, not for a long time at least.

On this side of the pond.

To my friends in the UK, I'm so terribly sorry. I'm assuming you will have this technology installed and in full swing by next Tuesday.

Re:This is America (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25041193)

This... is... AMERICA!!! ***kicks traffic enforcement camera vendor into bottomless pit***

Re:This is America (3, Informative)

Anonymous Brave Guy (457657) | about 6 years ago | (#25041477)

Those of us in the UK have been recorded in this way for quite some time now. The police have been happily rolling out nationwide ANPR tracking cameras and databases, and you've guessed it, they rolled it into a neat deal that has managed to avoid much Parliamentary scrutiny using technicalities. There has been a little consternation about that from a few liberal (small 'l') MPs and the Information Commissioner, but right now the good guys are a bit busy to put up serious opposition, what with trying to stop our entire way of life from collapsing because of the impending economic implosion and fighting even nastier surveillance/database measures like the National Identity Register and the National DNA Database.

Re:This is America (1)

Antony T Curtis (89990) | about 6 years ago | (#25041479)

AFAIK, this has been in partial operation on select roads and motorways (such as the M4 and the London congestion zone) for years already. The only "news" for the UK is that they are enabling it nationwide.

Re:This is America (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25041547)

We have had it installed for YEARS. It is in every cities and police cars / bikes.

All I have to say is: (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25041103)

Fuck.. That... Shit...

How handy! (5, Insightful)

Rob T Firefly (844560) | about 6 years ago | (#25041127)


Police later cleared themselves of any serious wrong-doing following an extensive investigation.

I just love this quote so much, for so many reasons.

Not that big of an issue (-1)

cabjf (710106) | about 6 years ago | (#25041129)

Judging from the summary, I don't see the issue so long as a warrant from a judge is needed to allow searching the system. This would make tracking and finding suspects easier (and therefore cheaper) for law enforcement officers. I know on this site people like to complain about Big Brother, but I really don't see how one's whereabouts in public are a privacy issue. Just like any tool this can be abused. Which is why there should be checks in place (such as judicial oversight). Now if you want to complain about even having these cameras in public, that's a different issue all together.

Re:Not that big of an issue (3, Insightful)

DaveV1.0 (203135) | about 6 years ago | (#25041235)

Judging from the summary, I don't see the issue so long as a warrant from a judge is needed to allow searching the system.

See, there is a problem with that. This is video of public space, captured on law enforcement cameras. There would be no need to obtain the warrant because it would fall under the "plain sight" rule.

Re: warrants (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25041243)

Let me guess: You forgot that GW shredded the constitution and wiped his ass on it, right?

Re:Not that big of an issue (1)

Intron (870560) | about 6 years ago | (#25041481)

"Judging from the summary, I don't see the issue so long as a warrant from a judge is needed to allow searching the system."

Are you serious? Why would they need a warrant to search their own data?

"I really don't see how one's whereabouts in public are a privacy issue." []

I Predict... (1)

DougF (1117261) | about 6 years ago | (#25041141)

Rotating license plate technology that uses GPS to automatically rotate the gaphic of a clenched fist with middle finger extended when going past red light cameras...

minor case of dyslexia (2, Funny)

roman_mir (125474) | about 6 years ago | (#25041163)

ATS likewise is promoting motorist tracking technologies. In a recent proposal to operate 200 speed cameras for the Arizona state police, the company explained that its ticketing cameras could be integrated into a national vehicle tracking database. This would allow a police officer to simply enter a license plate number into a laptop computer and receive an email as soon as a speed camera anywhere in the state recognized that plate.

- in a Freudian slip, I misread this:

cameras for the Arizona state police,

to be this:

cameras for the Arizona police state,

and I am serious, it took me reading the sentence 2 more times to understand that it was written the other way around. And after I read it correctly I thought that the authors must have made a mistake.

Re:minor case of dyslexia (1)

dunnius (1298159) | about 6 years ago | (#25041571)

Today is Constitution Day, the birthday of the Constitution. It is really sad that the state and federal governments continue to step all over the Constitution. Police state indeed; the people need to wake up and protest this sort of garbage.

Hello shadowbox (4, Informative)

DaveV1.0 (203135) | about 6 years ago | (#25041185)

At least here in Florida, the law states that one can not obscure one's license plate. But, if one recesses the license plate into the vehicle and uses proper lighting, then the cameras can not see the plate, but the police on the ground can, therefore the plate is not obscured.

Also, in places like Florida where only a rear plate is used, getting a picture of both the plate and the driver will require the use of two cameras.

Easy to work around, ride a bike (3, Insightful)

bigtrike (904535) | about 6 years ago | (#25041195)

If you don't want your rights violated, try riding a bicycle. By driving a motor vehicle, you are giving up many of your rights, most of which have been whittled away with arguments of protecting public safety. You also have the added benefit of doing less to fund terrorism through the purchase of gasoline.

Re:Easy to work around, ride a bike (bullsh*t) (2, Informative)

quaero_notitia (1192373) | about 6 years ago | (#25041535)

"If you don't want your rights violated, try riding a bicycle." How about, if you don't want your rights violated, then move to another part of the Earth. Sorry, not an option me. I say that that deep, dark and dirty crevices where our law makers and enforcers reside needs a bit of sunshine.

Private companies? (1)

barzok (26681) | about 6 years ago | (#25041201)

WTF? Why are private companies doing public surveillance & traffic enforcement in the first place?

Frog (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25041203)

If you want to boil a frog, you don't dump it into a pot of boiling water. You put it in cool water, and slowly bring it to a boil.

Who here would want to be dumped into a pot of boiling water? I figure between those two evils, being burned and jumping out, or being boiled slowly, I say the later is the lesser evil. At least that way we don't feel the pain.

This is just one step in the corrosion of our civil liberties. We're bound to have the worth eventually happen. So why not let it happen and be done with it?

It should be (4, Informative)

Capt James McCarthy (860294) | about 6 years ago | (#25041205)

A huge red flag when commercial entities want to enforce laws. But that's what happens when the Governments start outsourcing.

Re:It should be (4, Insightful)

roman_mir (125474) | about 6 years ago | (#25041285)

They don' really want to enforce laws.

Commercial entities want to create a business opportunity selling and maintaining these systems with possibility of further extension of the technology to other aspects of life.

The Government wants to keep track of its citizens, because the Government is scared of its citizens. The government also wants to justify taking more taxes from its citizens to buy these expensive technologies and to create new forms of government for regulation of such tech and the new laws that will come with it.

Nobody cares about 'enforcing laws' and besides, if they wanted to enforce laws they should have started with enforcing of the Constitution first.

One layer of indirection (5, Insightful)

Harmonious Botch (921977) | about 6 years ago | (#25041217)

When my wife and I were in another state, we were using her car, I was driving, and I got photographed running a red light. They sent a citation to my wife, complete with a copy of the photo clearly showing me driving. They demanded that she either pay or give the name and address of the person who was driving. My wife - who is a lawyer - told them that that her husband was driving, and then refused to give name or address. She informed them that is is a protected relationship, that is, you cannot be compelled to testify against your spouse. They gave up on it.

So register your car under your wife's name, and hers under your name. Don't have a wife? Pay your attourney to register it for you. Attourney/client relationship is privleged also.

Re:One layer of indirection (0, Troll)

DaveV1.0 (203135) | about 6 years ago | (#25041593)

Marriage certificates are public records. There is a picture of you.

They could obtain your name from the marriage certificate, which is public record.
Then, request inter-agency co-operation to get your address as listed on your driver's license and registration.
Then, issue a citation to you.
Then, issue an arrest warrant when you fail to appear.
And, possibly have your license suspended in your current state.

The road to hell is paved with good intentions. (5, Insightful)

Whatsisname (891214) | about 6 years ago | (#25041225)

"You do not examine legislation in light of the benefits it will convey if properly administered, but in light of the wrongs it would do and the harms it would cause if improperly administered." -- Lyndon B. Johnson

Seriously, how do these people live with themselves, knowing what they are doing.

Analogy needed (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25041231)

Can anyone come up with an appropriate car analogy for this?

Re:Analogy needed (1)

berashith (222128) | about 6 years ago | (#25041475)

sure... this is like if you took the tire iron out of your trunk, and beat the last bit of life out of any hope of living outside of a police state. then jacked up the car, placed said freedom under it, removed the tires, and then pulled the jack .

I think that is close :)

Yawn (1)

mordred99 (895063) | about 6 years ago | (#25041245)

It will just be chips in license plates and passports and drivers licenses. Soon they will implant "career chips" like Futurama and then they will be able to see morning, noon and night where everyone is, what they do, what they buy, and even the size of their latest dump. Wake me when 1984 is over.

So Steve Jobs really *is* prescient? (2, Funny)

Sierran (155611) | about 6 years ago | (#25041251)

Obviously not content [] to rely on his reality distortion field, Steve Jobs now looks to be even more forward-thinking than his press would have you believe.

Not me (1)

jdcope (932508) | about 6 years ago | (#25041255)

I guess its time to buy some of that anti-reflective spray for license plates that they sell in car magazines.

Think of the income^Wtickets (5, Insightful)

RichMan (8097) | about 6 years ago | (#25041291)

Your car was determined to be at point 1 at time alpha and point 2 at time beta. 1 and 2 or the same road with a speed limit.

(D2-D1)/(beta-alpha) - speed_limit = excess_speed

As the owner of the automobile this ticket has been sent to you under law HTA2009-01 and you are responsible for payment. A picture from point beta is attached for your reference should you not have been driving at the time you can contact the driver and make arrangements for them to reimburse them for your expense.

Note of this excess speed has been forwarded to your insurance company. Should the automated face recognition software have matched the photo against your drivers license you will also have been assigned appropriate demerits.

If an extreme hazard was detected in the amount of observed speed we trust that an officer has already contacted you about this issue.

Re:Think of the income^Wtickets (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25041513)

Many places already do this with airplanes. IIRC, they have indicators that pickup your car and track it until the next indicator. 2 minutes or less and you have a ticket. The only difference is that i don't think it is automated.

The day that happens (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25041301)

Is the day I become a criminal by destroying any and all cameras I come across.

They are right -- no warrants are needed (3, Insightful)

mi (197448) | about 6 years ago | (#25041305)

This technology is equivalent to having hundreds of thousands (millions) of officers watching the public highways and recording the every license plate. Included are also the clerks collecting the notes and able to search through them in seconds.

No society could afford this many policemen — the cameras and the computers are productivity tools, just as they are in the offices or at industrial facilities.

The old adage is, police can solve any crime, but not every crime — for lack of resources.

The real question is, do we want to increase the ratio of solved crimes (up to 100%) — as the technology may allow us to do? Or do we want to allow some transgressions unpunished to allow some "breathing room" for future fighters against some hypothetical tyranny?

Re:They are right -- no warrants are needed (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 6 years ago | (#25041557)

Well, maybe if they didn't do anything wrong in the first place, they wouldn't have to worry. Maybe we should live in a society where everyone can be trusted.

For example, my e-mail address is
The password is "password" without the quotes.

Now, I should have no fear. After all, if someone can't be trusted, then they should fall into that 100% of crimes that MUST be solved, and they must be punished if they steal my e-mail account.

Que the new gadgets now.... (2, Insightful)

zappepcs (820751) | about 6 years ago | (#25041339)

First up - IR license plate lights causing cameras to see nothing but glare where your license plate should be.

Next - New cameras at 400% the cost of the originals.

Followed quickly behind holographic projection license plate covers.

This can escalate for quite some time and only manufacturers and lawyers will make any money while not even 1/100th of one percent of criminals will be tracked with this system.

Sometime after it is established, the network will be hacked and more will be spent to secure the network. Still no criminals caught yet.

In larger cities, people will begin regularly using those rental cars things, where you all share vehicles, just grab one that is free at the moment. Fuel shortages will increase the use of alternatives to motor vehicles.

Criminals will always be using a stolen plate on the car they stole from elsewhere anyway.

The only people that can possibly be caught using this are stupid criminals and the innocent, where innocent is a variable of personal taste. A cheating husband is innocent in this case where it is used by his wife to catch him out.

Most interestingly, we'll be able to publicly verify that police are abandoning their creed of protect and serve with respect.

Well, they are possibilities...

Absurd waste of government resources and money. (1)

molotovjester (1273662) | about 6 years ago | (#25041353)

This is a solution without a significant problem, and the money (that the government doesn't have) that would be used to support this initiative would be better spent elsewhere (if said money existed).

IR camera jamming? (3, Interesting)

Sierran (155611) | about 6 years ago | (#25041365)

On a more serious note, I wonder if IR camera jammers [] work on these cameras, and if use of them doesn't trip 'concealment' alerts since it doesn't prevent any person from seeing the plate. An LED array around the plate is certainly easier to remotely control and not as suspicious looking. Might be time to actually build one of those like I've been planning...

Privacy Shmivacy (1)

MrSmith0011000100110 (1344879) | about 6 years ago | (#25041387)

This one will get panned as a privacy violation right off. People don't want the government in their homes, their cars, their heads, or relatively anywhere near them(I know I'm one of them) least of all when they may be culpable for a crime that otherwise would remain off the books(driving with no seatbelt). I agree with all the other slashdotters chiming in that private companies in law enforcement is like putting "Hef" on amphetamines and viagra... Everyone's getting F'd .. And for those that read the whole article and ask what's the big deal? You need a warrant to use the system, but what keeps the Private company from otherwise using the data, pictures etc? It's a private company selling a service to the Police... This thing would be more abused than little boys at Neverland Ranch

Easily fixed (4, Informative)

mlwmohawk (801821) | about 6 years ago | (#25041411)

The vidicon tube is long gone, all these cameras are solid sate which means they are sensitive to near infrared. Conveniently enough, the exact same type produced by LEDs.

It should be possible to create a high brightness license plate frame which will overload the camera and just leave a very white rectangle where the plate should be in the photo.

Still, private companies should not be in the business of enforcing laws or tracking citizens. Private companies do not answer to the public and are not regulated in the same way a police officer is.

It already exists (1)

Bryansix (761547) | about 6 years ago | (#25041437)

The video feeds already exist so all this would do is put them in a useful format.

This could help with many problems (1)

Pig Hogger (10379) | about 6 years ago | (#25041443)

One thing that shall be understood is that driving a car on a public highway is **NOT** a private act, and thus expectations of household privacy cannot apply.

Furthermore, driving is a **PRIVILEGE** granted by the governments who own the roads, and they are free to implement whatever management methods to manage the use of the roads, up to and including the tracking of every single vehicle.

Locating stolen vehicles is only one benefit of the whole system; effective road capacity surveys could be conducted instantaneously, to help planning road expansion and/or maintenance.

Road congestion could also be monitored automagically, and drivers could also be suggested alternative routes to avoid tie-ups.

Congestion pricing could also be effected easily with that system, and it could even be adjusted according to different uses; for example, someone who takes his car to go half a mile away three times a day could be charged a nuisance fee whereas the tourist who comes from several hundreds of kilometers for the first time in his life would not be.

Service fleet owners could also, by paying a fee, monitor the location of their vehicle for better management of their fleets.

Car renters could also charge according to the location the cars are used. The possibilities are endless and go beyond what has been suggested so far.

Re:This could help with many problems (1)

NiceGeek (126629) | about 6 years ago | (#25041595)

The government "owns" the roads? How did the government pay for them?

I sure am glad we have money to pay for all this (1)

mmalove (919245) | about 6 years ago | (#25041521)

what with the hundreds of billions of dollars we're borrowing from China and all...

Anti-War Citizens Get Tracked By Fed Agents (0, Flamebait)

wudukes (1350923) | about 6 years ago | (#25041531)

Okay So, I am a citizen and I do not agree with the War. I hate killing of innocents, the money aspect, etc etc.. So.. I start a campaign to end the war.. Uh oh.. what do you know? Now, Enemy of the state, is being tracked EVERYWHERE I FUC**ING GO!!! Watched and tracked, they know who I meet, where I travel to... Intelligence information is everything especially in this country of DISinformation by the mainstream media / government.. This country is turning into another Police state.. Secret Prisons.. Secret Wiretapping.. and now TOTAL Surveillance in the name of protecting YOUR SAFETY. Government listens to all phone calls Government tracks all cars Government maintains national health record database Government creates national citizen database (check out the REAL ID ACT) COMPLETE with tracking RFID chip. 1984 IS REAL. Say goodbye to privacy, say hello to total information awareness by government. This feels like a dream. oh and by the way.. 911 WAS AN INSIDE JOB YOU IDIOT!

Great idea! (1)

commodoresloat (172735) | about 6 years ago | (#25041541)

Finally, I'll be able to find my car after parking it in a busy lot.

We can put this on Scottsdale, Arizona and greed (4, Insightful)

bjdevil66 (583941) | about 6 years ago | (#25041565)

About 60-70% of AZ residents are welcoming the highway speed cameras with open arms - thanks to Governor Napolitano whoring the state out to Redflex to balance her budget. (The tickets taken by the cameras will not count against insurance points - it's only a fine. Once you pay your "tax", it's forgotten.

If you speak out against the system, you're branded a speeder, GTA wannabe, and told to, "Just slow DOWN!", or, "Stop breaking the law!" They don't get that it's all about money (and now outright spying).

Hell, even if the people rose up against the system and stopped this tracking, what's to stop the NSA from doing it under the table with the same system, all in the name of safety?

I single-handedly hold Scottsdale, Arizona and its town council for bringing this system to the entire nation. If they'd had their heads pulled out and not put the system up on the Loop 101, it wouldn't have gained any traction to go state-wide, and now nationwide. Thanks, guys... I hope you enjoyed that paltry revenue stream while introducing Big Brother to us. Damn, I hate Scottsdale more than ever now...

It looks like the tin foil crowd got this system 100% right, and the sad thing is that nobody will be educated enough about what's going on to care.

Total waste of time! (2, Insightful)

benjfowler (239527) | about 6 years ago | (#25041605)

Whether or not it actually achieves its stated aims, you know that law abiding people will suffer the negative consequences, while criminals and sleazebags will have a field day.

Here in the UK, with widespread introduction of numberplate recognition, people just steal or clone numberplates, and when crimes are committed using your plates, the police knock on _your_ door first.

A total waste of time and money.

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