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Global Mall Operator Starts Reading License Plates

timothy posted more than 2 years ago | from the well-aren't-you-lucky? dept.

Australia 301

First time accepted submitter skegg writes "Westfield Group, one of the largest shopping centre (mall) operators in the world, has launched a find-my-car iPhone app. The system uses a series of license plate reading cameras dotted throughout their multi-level car parks. Westfield said police could also use it to find stolen or unregistered vehicles. (Hello, slippery slope.) Initially launched in just one Sydney centre, it will be rolled-out to others if the trial is successful."

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301 comments

Slippery slope? (3, Insightful)

Nidi62 (1525137) | more than 2 years ago | (#37365654)

How is this a slippery slope? The cars are parked in a public place, with license plates easily viewable. There is no expectation of privacy in this case.

Re:Slippery slope? (5, Interesting)

MalleusEBHC (597600) | more than 2 years ago | (#37365698)

While there is no expectation of privacy in public, there is a huge practical difference between automated tracking systems and manpower surveillance. A few well placed cameras could track as many cars as thousands of people could.

Besides the law enforcement slippery slope, what about the commercial privacy concerns? It's not a stretch that such a system could be used to track how long you spend at the mall and where you went, especially if it were combined with a facial recognition system inside the mall. I know some of this is already possible just by tracking credit card purchases, but opening up yet another more invasive avenue for data collection is not something I welcome.

Re:Slippery slope? (2)

Nidi62 (1525137) | more than 2 years ago | (#37365716)

Your second point is easily solved: don't park in their deck. You can always park in the lot of one of those little strip shopping centers that always surround malls, and simply walk across the street. Consider it as an opt-out.

Re:Slippery slope? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37365776)

Having recently got told my car would get towed from one of those little 'strip shopping centers' you talk about, I can tell you that they don't appreciate people taking up valuable parking space in their already miniscule parking areas.

Honestly though if someone really wishes to retain their anonymity at this point in time they'd need to be able to disguise both themselves and their car each place they go.

Good luck with that.

Re:Slippery slope? (1)

X0563511 (793323) | more than 2 years ago | (#37366112)

I'm pretty sure you're allowed to park in a shared space like that if it's not posted, so long as you're not doing something stupid like overnighting. They can kiss your ass.

Re:Slippery slope? (1)

Runaway1956 (1322357) | more than 2 years ago | (#37366204)

Parking lots are private property, owned by the individual vendor, or by the strip mall owner. I used to be a truck driver, and it didn't take long to figure out that almost all property is private property. A lot of good parking lots are posted "No truck parking", and stopping to get a burger to go would mean a ticket if a cop happened to come by.

Re:Slippery slope? (2)

stephanruby (542433) | more than 2 years ago | (#37365890)

It's not a true "opt-out" unless the mall cops grab your groin or strip search you.

Re:Slippery slope? (1)

davester666 (731373) | more than 2 years ago | (#37365940)

The real solution is paintball guns. Just shoot the camera's in the area where you parked. If a couple of people do this over a few weeks, none of the cameras will wind up working.

Lather, rinse, repeat as necessary.

Re:Slippery slope? (1)

hedwards (940851) | more than 2 years ago | (#37365956)

I'm guessing that they're using the same technology that our parking enforcement officers use. It's basically a car mounted camera system that scans license plates.

As much as I'm opposed to this practice, it isn't without upsides. It would make it easier to identify stalkers in cases where license plates are known. But ultimately, it's not worth it, it's just too easy to side step the protection for the amount of privacy that has to be given up.

Re:Slippery slope? (1)

X0563511 (793323) | more than 2 years ago | (#37366114)

Guess I'll have to start backing in then! (we don't have plates on the front, around here)

Re:Slippery slope? (4, Insightful)

Runaway1956 (1322357) | more than 2 years ago | (#37366200)

The thing is, you accept that surveillance is acceptable, and normal. Some of us do not. It is none of the police department's business where I go, what I do, who I see, or how long I might meet with any person. None of their business. Basically, widespread surveillance relieves the police of doing real police work.

I can justify surveillance inside of a business place that is commonly subject to armed robbery and/or shoplifting. I cannot justify surveillance of public streets, parking logs, and business places that aren't commonly targeted by thieves.

Re:Slippery slope? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37365758)

While there is no expectation of privacy in public, there is a huge practical difference between automated tracking systems and manpower surveillance. A few well placed cameras could track as many cars as thousands of people could.

Besides the law enforcement slippery slope, what about the commercial privacy concerns? It's not a stretch that such a system could be used to track how long you spend at the mall and where you went, especially if it were combined with a facial recognition system inside the mall. I know some of this is already possible just by tracking credit card purchases, but opening up yet another more invasive avenue for data collection is not something I welcome.

What are you worried about? This makes traditional shopping the same as if you bought something on the internet.

Let's compare:
Internet: Amazon.com
Real World: Westfield Malls

Internet: IP address, Real World: Car License Plate
Internet: Username, Real World: Facial recognition

I bet most people who would have an issue with this "camera" system would have no issues placing their next Amazon.com order.

Re:Slippery slope? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37365816)

You left out:

Internet: How long you were at the site, what you bought, how much you spent, Real World: How long you were parked at the building, who you arrived and/or left with, by extension what you bought and how much you spent, what you were wearing, and so on.

In other words, internet: limited. Real world, not so much.

Re:Slippery slope? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37365862)

Its possible to track all of those things on the internet too..

Re:Slippery slope? (1)

Ethanol-fueled (1125189) | more than 2 years ago | (#37365896)

Online ordering is usually done from one location, usually home. When corporations act as the police-by-proxy, then you have situations like AT&T funneling your internet activity to the NSA, 80 year old grandmothers and printers being sued for 50 million by the RIAA, and finally the cameras of every public establishment are tracking your movements and purchase activity, in real time, funneling your real-life activity to the local Fusion Center. [wikipedia.org]

In a sense, them knowing your internet activity is far less creepy because you're usually in that one place when you're on. The involuntary plate scans [courierpress.com] and the continuous tracking that will inevitably follow you wherever you go is no different than a gang of lackeys on the phone with the police following you around all day, which in a sane universe would be called harassment. One could at least not bother to buy stuff over the internet or even use it at all. But if you want to drive you have to have a car, with a license plate, and you gotta buy gas to drive it and have your plate recorded by every camera you drive across. Paying cash will not help when they can still get the plates and their locations.

And don't give me any righteous bullshit about public transportation. Try spending 5 hours a day getting to and from your job and them come and tell me how cool public transportation is.

Re:Slippery slope? (1)

hedwards (940851) | more than 2 years ago | (#37365968)

The difference is that ones IP is probably changing regularly and the log in information that you give Amazon is the only way anybody's managed to figure out how to make the transactions work. Whereas malls have been around for ages without needing to keep that information, in fact most will even take cash for services or items without looking at you weird.

Re:Slippery slope? (1)

ross.w (87751) | more than 2 years ago | (#37365762)

There is a disconnect between the mall and the RTA who keep the licencing data. I'm pretty sure the NSW RTA will only hand over someones details if you intend to make a complaint. They won't do it to make your marketing easier. If that were not the case THAT would be good case for protest.

Re:Slippery slope? (1)

deniable (76198) | more than 2 years ago | (#37365916)

Come to Western Australia where public servants got busted selling licensing data to a parking operator. Then again, our police got caught random breath testing / license checking empty cars at shopping centres.

Re:Slippery slope? (1)

Dthief (1700318) | more than 2 years ago | (#37365884)

I think you also forget that license plates are just large lettered ID tags for your car, someone using that very public, very easy to see information intelligently seems quite reasonable.

I'd be curious to know how people in the UK feel about the congestion fee toll which also can essentially know when your car was at certain places.

Re:Slippery slope? (1)

Hoi Polloi (522990) | more than 2 years ago | (#37365976)

Wonder if it would be legal to cover your plate when it is parked. I don't recall any requirement that your plate me visible when you weren't operating it. Otherwise it would be illegal to use car covers and such.

Re:Slippery slope? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37366122)

In Japan, a valet will cover your number plate for you when you check into a love hotel.

Re:Slippery slope? (0, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37365892)

Actually, this isn't a public place. You're parking on their property. Don't like it, don't go there. It's that simple.

Re:Slippery slope? (1)

segfault7375 (135849) | more than 2 years ago | (#37365904)

Actually, this isn't a public place. You're parking on their property. Don't like it, don't go there. It's that simple.

wish i had mod points

Re:Slippery slope? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37366052)

I'm sure the retailers at this mall really appreciate you advising people to stay away.

Re:Slippery slope? (1)

nedlohs (1335013) | more than 2 years ago | (#37366102)

I'm sure they don't care. The guy worrying abou the police finding his unregistered car in the parking lot likely isn't that big a spender and you likely don't want him getting store credit either.
 

Re:Slippery slope? (1)

epyT-R (613989) | more than 2 years ago | (#37366054)

except property rights aren't absolute in this era of pervasive policing... try shooting someone who invades your home.. it isn't a foregone conclusion that you won't join him in prison.... unless of course you're a wealthy businessman who owns whole chains of malls and outlets throughout the country whose government you have in your pocket. the end result is that such policing hurts the little people. ...just another example of business and government cooperating to ensure your trip-up at some point so that they (one, the other, or both) may profit financially or politically.

Re:Slippery slope? (4, Insightful)

inkscapee (1994086) | more than 2 years ago | (#37366116)

Actually, this isn't a public place. You're parking on their property. Don't like it, don't go there. It's that simple.

Just walk away has always been stupid advice. It doesn't change anything. Why are there always a bunch of dummies who preach this? We should always speak up and protest abusive practices. Following your 'don't go there' advice doesn't improve anything, it just narrows our options and encourages this sort of crap.

Re:Slippery slope? (1, Insightful)

RobinEggs (1453925) | more than 2 years ago | (#37365724)

Seriously. Cars, their registrations, and the license to drive them all involve no reasonable expectations or implicit rights to privacy whatsoever (the contents of cars are obviously a different issue).

Cars are extremely expensive in multiple ways, for the individual, the society, and the human race at large; they're statistically more dangerous than all weapons, wars, and natural disasters put together; they're a million different costs and dangers in addition to their many obvious conveniences.

Yet people persist in thinking cars are strictly personal possessions, which the state nor the public have any cause in tracking, taxing, or restricting in any way.

Re:Slippery slope? (1)

SebZero (1051264) | more than 2 years ago | (#37365842)

There is quite a large difference between a person watching and seeing you go past and a sleepless, tireless automaton tracking you to the distance of a car parking spot.

I think you'll find there's a very large court case if your country that's actually trying to decide how much of a right to privacy even suspected criminals have with GPS tracking versus good ol' actual police officers following you: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/09/11/us/11gps.html [nytimes.com]

What would be interesting to see what westfield's reaction would be if you had a mechanism (from LCD film to... duct tape) for covering up your license plate each time you enter it. While I don't know the specifics of the law as it pertains to carparks in Australia - I'm sure regardless of what the law is, the rent-a-cops would bar your entry stating "private property".

Re:Slippery slope? (2)

epyT-R (613989) | more than 2 years ago | (#37365914)

so when some entity uses said information about your car to back you into a corner, you're a-ok with that?

you're cherry picking statistics which is a red flag indicator for someone who'd rather push his favorite social agenda than speak the complete truth. there are LOTS of things which are 'extremely expensive in multiple ways, for the individual, the society, and the human race at large.' that doesn't justify being treated like criminals.

Re:Slippery slope? (2)

RobinEggs (1453925) | more than 2 years ago | (#37365978)

And hypothetical complaints about a mysterious, nefarious "some entity" using the system to "back me into a corner" isn't pushing some sort of agenda?

Not all surrender of privacy and anonymity amounts to being treated like a criminal; not all systems will inevitably and automatically be used in most seditious, conspiracy-oriented ways.

The "complete truth" you want me to speak is not an objective, independent truth; it's a personal, hypothetical fear of yours, and every bit as much of an "agenda" as what I'm talking about.

Re:Slippery slope? (1)

causality (777677) | more than 2 years ago | (#37366044)

And hypothetical complaints about a mysterious, nefarious "some entity" using the system to "back me into a corner" isn't pushing some sort of agenda? Not all surrender of privacy and anonymity amounts to being treated like a criminal; not all systems will inevitably and automatically be used in most seditious, conspiracy-oriented ways. The "complete truth" you want me to speak is not an objective, independent truth; it's a personal, hypothetical fear of yours, and every bit as much of an "agenda" as what I'm talking about.

How do you continue to justify this system in the face of facts which are very clear and objective: we as a species have managed to survive without this, and shopping malls have continued to be relatively safe and profitable places of business for all of this time without such systems? In light of this, why do you think the risks are worthwhile and should be disregarded?

I say the burden of proof is on the person who supports new methods of tracking people. The sane default isn't "why not?", it's "why?".

Re:Slippery slope? (2)

RobinEggs (1453925) | more than 2 years ago | (#37366106)

If you read what I've written I'm not actually justifying this system at all; my point all along has been more general than that. I simply believe that cars aren't a strictly private, strictly personal possession and I'm tired of people pretending that they are. Cars physically interconnect all our lives and, with their massive fiscal and environmental costs, they directly connect all of our destinies, as well. Our entire lives, at least in the US, are designed around then. I'm not arguing for the abolition of cars, and I don't actually care one way or another about this particular issue; I'm just tired of ignorant individualists, many of whom border on anarchists, who believe they have a right to unlimited, unrestricted use of automobiles. They're a public good, not a private right.

Re:Slippery slope? (1)

epyT-R (613989) | more than 2 years ago | (#37366154)

I don't see anyone claiming they're in a vacuum here. you proceeded from a false assumption so you could launch a tirade at a strawman - the contextually driven implication being that resistance to being tracked by car = irrational idiot. Also, you can make all those arguments you listed for just about anything.. Apparently the only way to keep people like yourself happy is to preemptively lock everyone into concrete dorms from cradle to grave so that no one ever does anything self-serving that somehow 'harms' the 'common good.' I'm sorry, but that devalues the point of life to 'not worth living' status in my book. Just to keep you on track, no I never once implied I'm an anarchist, though if society did embrace anarchism and remained stable, it would be a testament to true progress of humanity.. we would've completely outgrown the baby sitter you so dearly cling to.

Your complaints about extremists expose your own extremism. Cars ARE personal possessions (for argument sake I'll assume you're a US resident like me), and they should be considering how much they cost to buy and operate (a lot of that being artificially imposed by the state under the guise of environmental impact, yet most of the money does not go to recoup environmental damage). I'm sorry you are deluded about where your tax dollars go.. it would be nice if they actually went towards the things they were supposed to fund, and those agencies receiving the money actually did their jobs like their continued salaries depended on it, but it's just not true...anywhere in the world.

Re:Slippery slope? (1)

epyT-R (613989) | more than 2 years ago | (#37366094)

I have no ulterior motive other than to protect myself from public and private organizations that have known track records for collecting information about people and placing it in warchests for future conflicts.

Not all surrender of privacy and anonymity amounts to being treated like a criminal; not all systems will inevitably and automatically be used in most seditious, conspiracy-oriented ways.

Never said this.. However, that's the current trend nowadays. This is accelerating due to nonlinear increases in technical capability over time. Do you really want law enforced by machine augmented bureaucracies?

The "complete truth" you want me to speak is not an objective, independent truth; it's a personal, hypothetical fear of yours, and every bit as much of an "agenda" as what I'm talking about.

a lot more objective evidence supports mine than it does yours. your hypothetical fear of people doing terrible things should they have some power in their personal lives besides choosing which fast food restaurant they go to before/after work, and what corporate-whitewashed dreck to watch on tv when they get home is what concerns me. people like you are the reason authoritarian socialism will become the next ideology of tyranny.

Re:Slippery slope? (5, Interesting)

nmb3000 (741169) | more than 2 years ago | (#37365736)

How is this a slippery slope? The cars are parked in a public place, with license plates easily viewable. There is no expectation of privacy in this case.

I believe the slippery slope the submitter is referring to is the widespread dissemination of license plate reading cameras. As with most technologies, it can be used for both good and ill.

For example, it can be a convenience. This article is one example (helping people find their cars). Another is for controlled-access areas such as the university I attend. They recently switched from a RFID-style windshield sticker to these license plate cameras, claiming it will be faster to open the gates (false), that it would be less prone to failure (also false).

The slippery part of these devices is that it's all to easy to re-purpose them. Very soon after installing the cameras at the controlled-access gates my university started mounting them on curbside free-standing poles all over campus. It is almost impossible to drive through campus (which I acknowledge is private property) without having your plate scanned. I'm sure this has somehow been sold as "keeping campus safe." Of course, what it really is, is a waste of money and an erosion of privacy.

The same type of scenario could easily happen over an entire city once this technology becomes common enough. Pretty soon there's enough coverage that law enforcement (or anyone else, for that matter) might be able to pay for (or coerce via legislation) private owners to give them access to the data. Now "criminals" can be caught by simply driving past that Chevron station on the corner and detailed data mining of your personal travel habits is effortless and completely legal. The entire vehicle-owning public is suddenly under constant, real-time surveillance.

I realize there is limited expectation of privacy in public places, and that license plates are easily visible on the outside of your vehicle. That doesn't change that this is an erosion of privacy. Just as stalking a person all over a city isn't legal, doing effectively the same thing via electronic means shouldn't be either (without a valid warrant).

</tinfoil hat>

Re:Slippery slope? (3, Interesting)

Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) | more than 2 years ago | (#37365980)

Very soon after installing the cameras at the controlled-access gates my university started mounting them on curbside free-standing poles all over campus. It is almost impossible to drive through campus (which I acknowledge is private property) without having your plate scanned.

If it is private property, you have no legal requirement to display your license plate. I'd very much like to purchase a license-plate obscurer that could be hooked up to a GPS unit so that it would automatically cover up my plate as I left the public roads for a parking-lot or wherever.

FWIW, I read a couple of years back that Target was surreptitiously deploying such ANPR cameras to all of their parking lots. I can't easily dig up the article via google because, as you might imagine, "target" is way too generic of a search term, however "Target CSI" yields some related info that is disturbing.

Re:Slippery slope? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37365790)

How is this a slippery slope? The cars are parked in a public place, with license plates easily viewable. There is no expectation of privacy in this case.

You're quite right!

Of course instead of just tracking car IDs they should use motion tracking and biometrics to track everywhere you go when you get out of your car too, and let the agencies access that as well. Heck, tie it to your social security number so that at any moment any agency can flip a switch and see exactly what you're up to, who you're with, maybe even listen in to your conversations - CCTV in the UK does this. It'll probably help fight terrorism or child abuse, don't you know. And it'll all be cool with you because hey, you're in a public place.

Maybe it's a slippery slope because it effectively creates a means to track you that wasn't there before, so while you may always have been in public you at least had an expectation that you weren't been "watched".

It's stupid "technically.." reasoning like yours that helps the government encroach upon our private lives year after year.

Re:Slippery slope? (3, Interesting)

Belial6 (794905) | more than 2 years ago | (#37365834)

Yes, there IS an expectation of privacy. It is privacy through obscurity. When I am in a crowd of 100,000, I very reasonably expect to be LESS trackable than when I am sitting in my home alone. Pretty much every single person on the planet also has this expectation. They don't expect to have the person next to them not see them, but they do expect that anyone that knows them, or is investigating them will not see them.

The meme of "Your is public, so have no expectation of privacy" is entirely false, and repeating it doesn't make it true.

Re:Slippery slope? (4, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37365864)

ah, the legal apologist. to them, as long as it's legal, it's moral, just, and completely harmless to the freedoms and civil rights of citizens. as we all know, the legal system in this country (and others) is completely flawless when it comes to social justice and health of the human psyche. there are no psychopaths at the top manipulating the whole mess to their advantage by passing laws which are psychologically and sociologically unhealthy for individuals as well as society at large.

case in point, there's a big fucking difference between no expectation of privacy, and having your license plate number used to track your every move from place to place. yes, there IS a slippery slope here.. it starts with the parent companies which push their surveillance policies out to the rest.. eventually, the government just mandates it everywhere .

Re:Slippery slope? (5, Insightful)

Jah-Wren Ryel (80510) | more than 2 years ago | (#37365944)

The cars are parked in a public place, with license plates easily viewable. There is no expectation of privacy in this case.

Ah, but there [i]is[/i] an expectation of privacy.

The general population does not expect that the mere act of going shopping will cause the date, location and duration of such normal activities to be permanently recorded by a large, well-funded organization in a database with practically no access controls.

Furthermore, the american jurisprudence (Katz v United States) which established the concept of "no privacy in public spaces" was written in 1967 - a time when wide-spread surveillance and, more importantly, essentially infinite-sized databases were only the stuff of science fiction.

Technology has progressed and the law needs to catch up.

Re:Slippery slope? (1)

The Good Reverend (84440) | more than 2 years ago | (#37366148)

Should it be illegal for me to record the plates of cars going by my house or business? Why or why not?

Re:Slippery slope? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37366210)

In the EU it would be illegal, unless you have both the consent of the car owners and a justification for needing the data. As for why, the EU privacy legislation starts from the premise that people have a right to privacy, and that right is sufficient to restrict the rights of others to work on personal data.

Re:Slippery slope? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37365996)

Excellent points. This is private property and they have a right to look at their own property. They're actually way behind what websites can already do. And yes I understand physical presence is a completely different thing than browsing the web.

A far slipperier slope would be letting government dictate what people can do at their own property.

Personally, I'd rather shop where car thieves are deterred. It would also be nice to know if my own car is leaving without me and that's probably the next step.

People are going to use camera more and more to prevent crime. They'll do it at home with cameras and software that detects certain behaviors and that will actually record criminal acts day and night. They'll alert you and then the police. Some day, robotic cameras will even follow the criminals and send data to the cops.

Petty crime and burglary is going to get harder. And that's going to make life less stressful for the non-criminals among us.

Re:Slippery slope? (1)

xigxag (167441) | more than 2 years ago | (#37366082)

A far slipperier slope would be letting government dictate what people can do at their own property.

Government can already dictate what people can do at their own property, to the extent where there really isn't any longer a slope to slip down.

great (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37365658)

Yet another reason to stay away from the mall... lol

Re:great (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37365784)

Amen. I live a couple blocks from one of the largest malls in the world, and I've avoided it for years. Yay for Amazon (w/Prime).

what is the over/under for # years (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37365668)

before this type of data is used in a divorce proceeding, e.g. litigant's car was placed at a nightclub, strip club or casino on the following dates

Anyone see anything wrong with this...? (1)

DeusExInfernus (2041722) | more than 2 years ago | (#37365670)

Westfield said police could also use it to find stolen or unregistered vehicles. In other news those cameras have appeared bloody everywhere, and their servers have just been hacked by everyone ever. Problem? [insert troll-face here, etc]

Oh no! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37365672)

My secret private license plate information that is on the front and back of my car, and which it is illegal to obfuscate, conceal, or otherwise make harder to read.

And they're going to use CAMERAS to look for them! Why next they'll have satellites keeping an eye on the weather!

Re:Oh no! (1)

Belial6 (794905) | more than 2 years ago | (#37366022)

A needle in a hay stack is used as a metaphor for a reason. A needle is very well hidden in a haystack because it is one small item in a very large pool of other material. That makes it hard to find. The claim that we have no privacy in public is absolutely false. There is also another common, accepted saying. "Lost in the crowd".

Want to find your car in a parking lot? (2)

Skarecrow77 (1714214) | more than 2 years ago | (#37365674)

1. At least remember what vague part of the lot you parked in. That will help.

2. (to actually be done before step 1) Purchase and place one of those antenna ball things, a fairly uncommon one in a striking color (yellow, orange, or neon pink all work well), and look for that.

Assuming you didn't park next to a van or an H2, that thing should stick out like a sore thumb.

My wife's old car had a bright yellow winnie-the-pooh antenna ball and that thing was always easy to spot no matter how crowded the lot.

Re:Want to find your car in a parking lot? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37365726)

1. At least remember what vague part of the lot you parked in. That will help.

2. (to actually be done before step 1) Purchase and place one of those antenna ball things, a fairly uncommon one in a striking color (yellow, orange, or neon pink all work well), and look for that.

Assuming you didn't park next to a van or an H2, that thing should stick out like a sore thumb.

My wife's old car had a bright yellow winnie-the-pooh antenna ball and that thing was always easy to spot no matter how crowded the lot.

And your local DMV has you covered. With new weekend service, you can come down whenever it's convenient to turn in your man card!

Thanks for the tip. (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37365744)

I'm thinking if you're too irresponsible to remember where you left one of your most valuable possessions that you are also too irresponsible to be trusted with the use of that possession.

Re:Thanks for the tip. (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37366092)

You have Asperger's syndrome.

Re:Want to find your car in a parking lot? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37365748)

The mall I most frequently visit, due to its proximity to my home, is the largest shopping mall in North America (and seventh largest in the world), and yet I've never found it at all difficult to find my car simply by remembering where I parked it.

Is this really that big of a problem? How dumb are people?

Re:Want to find your car in a parking lot? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37365876)

Dude, are you unaware of the bell curve? You should expect that 50% of all people are of below-average intelligence! The fact that you don't seem to know this indicates that you may be among that population yourself.

dom

Re:Want to find your car in a parking lot? (2)

artor3 (1344997) | more than 2 years ago | (#37365906)

The fact that you seem to think that 50% of a population must be below average says more about your (lack of) knowledge about statistics than anything else.

Re:Want to find your car in a parking lot? (2)

nospam007 (722110) | more than 2 years ago | (#37365924)

"...I've never found it at all difficult to find my car simply by remembering where I parked it.

People owning a smartphone to use their app can as well just take a picture of the lot/row/deck number.
This investment ain't for helping the customer, that's for sure.

Re:Want to find your car in a parking lot? (1)

bendy (34731) | more than 2 years ago | (#37365780)

You forgot step 0.

0. Own a car that's at least 20 years old and doesn't have a power antenna that retracts automatically when the car is turned off.....

Re:Want to find your car in a parking lot? (1)

Skarecrow77 (1714214) | more than 2 years ago | (#37365806)

Ahh, but that will be solved with step 0.1: Wait until said car is about 4 or 5 years old at which point the power antenna breaks and no longer retracts more than about 1/3 of the way, like my 98 Trans Am.

Re:Want to find your car in a parking lot? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37366144)

FYI - 2011 - 1998 > 5

(http://www.google.co.nz/search?sourceid=chrome&ie=UTF-8&q=2011-1998 if you'd like to check my maths)

Re:Want to find your car in a parking lot? (1)

Fly Swatter (30498) | more than 2 years ago | (#37365872)

Uh, my cars over 30 years old and has the antenna built into the windshield you insensitive clod.

Instead it is pale yellow (original paint), making it almost impossible to lose, barring the occasional SUV invasion.

More parking lots need to use a grid system (1)

intellitech (1912116) | more than 2 years ago | (#37365868)

I don't understand why more parking lots aren't setup with a decent grid system and signage. If you can't remember or be bothered to know the few characters needed to describe the location of your car, you deserve to be lost. I think the problem is too many people rely on landmarks, which change frequently in a parking lot (because they're mostly cars), and leave it to a retail industry to overthink a problem with an elaborate, unnecessary solution. Sure, convenience factor, but still, as the summary put it, it's a slippery slope.

Re:More parking lots need to use a grid system (1)

deniable (76198) | more than 2 years ago | (#37365946)

Most of them aren't well organised to begin with so labeling is a problem. Throw in a couple of extensions to add more shops and an additonal deck or two and you get the nightmare we have now. I'd love to see a nice labelled map but I doubt it will happen.

Re:Want to find your car in a parking lot? (5, Funny)

Dachannien (617929) | more than 2 years ago | (#37365878)

2. (to actually be done before step 1) Purchase and place one of those antenna ball things, a fairly uncommon one in a striking color (yellow, orange, or neon pink all work well), and look for that.

This is a great idea, and I hope everyone follows your advice.

Everyone.

Re:Want to find your car in a parking lot? (1)

Hoi Polloi (522990) | more than 2 years ago | (#37365960)

Neon pink? I'll stick to a manly color and pattern, like camoflage. Wait a minute...

Re:Want to find your car in a parking lot? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37365988)

I always just mash the "panic" button on the key fob while standing in the middle of the parking lot and listen which direction the siren comes from. Doesn't anyone else do this?

Re:Want to find your car in a parking lot? (0)

GodfatherofSoul (174979) | more than 2 years ago | (#37366010)

Doesn't have to be neon pink. I've got a Steelers one (no, I don't live in Pittsburgh!).

Re:Want to find your car in a parking lot? (1)

GodfatherofSoul (174979) | more than 2 years ago | (#37366014)

it doesn't have to be flourescent green. I have Steelers one (and no I don't live in Pittsburgh!).

Re:Want to find your car in a parking lot? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37365982)

I have tattooed a car tattoo on my car. And on that tattoo is a tattoo of the car with the car tattoo on it. Needless to say, I can't find my car unless I am drunk.

Re:Want to find your car in a parking lot? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37365990)

You apparently have not been to mall of America. *HUGE* parking lots.

Re:Want to find your car in a parking lot? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37366086)

And yet, somehow, despite having visited The Mall countless times, I've never managed to forget my parking spot. Maybe it's because I'm not a fucking idiot.

NOBODY BETTER DO THIS TO ME! (0)

For a Free Internet (1594621) | more than 2 years ago | (#37365676)

I will put dirt on muy car and if you look at me or you point electricx at me I will throw a rock atyou. QQQQ!!!!! dogpenus!

Westfield not just in Australia (4, Informative)

molo (94384) | more than 2 years ago | (#37365728)

Westfield also operates dozens of malls in the US and a number in New Zealand as well. See this list on wikipedia [wikipedia.org] .

-molo

Local laws? (1)

Karljohan (807381) | more than 2 years ago | (#37366098)

I hope they follow local laws. They are not in Sweden as far as I know but because of our history of registering a lot about people we have strikt laws about what you may register and this is not legal here.

This is not news (3, Interesting)

Dan B. (20610) | more than 2 years ago | (#37365732)

While the iDevice app maybe new, the camera-in-car-park scenario has been operating in at least one place that I know (and use) quite frequently; Brisbane Airport.

When you drive in, it images and OCRs your plate at the boom-gate, printing your rego on the ticket. Each car park has a camera pointed at it with a large multi colour light that reads - Red; park occupied, Green; park vacant, and Blue; park about to be vacated. When you pay for/validate your ticket, the light above your car goes from red to blue, and as soon as you pull out, it flicks to green.

I'm all for this tech, it makes park hunting so much easier, plus you would be amazed at the number of stolen cars that are stolen for the express purpose of the criminal driving it to their destination (such as the airport or shopping centre) with no intention of doing anything with the car other than avoiding a taxi fare. Thousands of stolen cars are recovered from parking lots each year, undamaged and usually, unlocked!

Re:This is not news (1)

epyT-R (613989) | more than 2 years ago | (#37365938)

that convenience > abuse potential attitude will end up enslaving us all, a little bit at a time..

Re:This is not news (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37366132)

How does this enslave you?! Are you completely paranoid?!

"Oh no! Someone knows I went to the mall!" Well most people aren't Aspie weirdos like you. Most people are happy to interact with other human beings and live in a society. If you hate life so much then you should kill yourself.

Re:This is not news (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37366206)

...and the really cool part is that, as the red/green lights are visible from the road, the parking station looks like a large, rectangular Christmas tree.
One question though... If the camera is at the boom gate at the entrance, how does the system know which space your car is occupying and hence, which car space is about to be vacated? It must be using extra cameras to track your vehicle to the individual car space you occupy. No wonder the airport parking is so expensive.

There's an app for that (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37365752)

A follow up app was launched called "Find My Cheating Wife". The new app was soon followed with "Find My Drunken Husband". These $1 apps were soon followed with the slightly more expensive "Block My Souse's App". A real bargain at a $1,000.

Re:There's an app for that (1)

monkyyy (1901940) | more than 2 years ago | (#37365820)

i think u only need ur plates visible on public roods, otherwise having a unregistered car that never leaves ur property would have to be illegal, so i'd expect ppl modding their cars, or finding type and paper

Re:There's an app for that (2)

PPH (736903) | more than 2 years ago | (#37366100)

A follow up app was launched called "Find My Cheating Wife".

No need. I know right where your cheating wife is.

P.S. Now there's two of you telling me to "Slow Down Cowboy!"

No Public Expectation of Privacy (1)

walkerp1 (523460) | more than 2 years ago | (#37365778)

How about an expectation of Mind Your Own Business? Does that work for you?

Re:No Public Expectation of Privacy (1)

BradleyUffner (103496) | more than 2 years ago | (#37365902)

How about an expectation of Mind Your Own Business? Does that work for you?

I think parking in a parking lot of a mall they own, a mall designed for doing business, counts as part of their business.

Re:No Public Expectation of Privacy (1)

walkerp1 (523460) | more than 2 years ago | (#37365932)

I think patronizing a mall they own is sufficient recompense for the burden of my presence. If you see me at the mall, that's fine. Don't go telling perfect strangers that you saw me there at exactly x time.

Do they keep records? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37365800)

I didn't read the article, but here's my opinion anyway. It's only a slippery slope if they keep a record after the car has left. If I could enter and leave without any lasting record, I'm cool with it. You could still check for stolen cars that are currently parked there. Or if there was a list of stolen cars, and one showed up, alert the police. That'd be cool.

But if someone could plug in my license plate and see the last time I was there, that's not cool.

This is fool proof... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37365804)

Until the fools begins switching license plates. When was the last time you checked to see if your license plate was still YOUR license plate?

Slippery slope (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37365832)

It's an EXTREMELY slippery slope. Once the commercial vendor starts collecting this data under the guise of "something useful", it will undoubtedly be perverted into other uses, most invasive by the Government, lawyers on fishing expeditions, etc.

Just like those inane "discount cards" in grocery stores and ezPass/iPass tollway transponders have been perverted from their original uses.

Any mall that implements this asinine invasion of my privacy doesn't get any of my business. I'll just order MORE from online sources. If they all implement something in my area, I'll walk.

Say NO to this. Whack this camel's nose so it doesn't wreck the tent...

Criminals can get a five finger discount (3, Insightful)

millsey (1987618) | more than 2 years ago | (#37365888)

Use the app at the touch of your fingertips to see if your neighbor is out and take what you want!

Re:Criminals can get a five finger discount (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37366006)

...because looking out the window to see if your neighbor is out is so much harder to do.

Private company can't connect plate with owner (2)

schwit1 (797399) | more than 2 years ago | (#37366002)

As I read it the mall folks have no access to owner data. This makes the data little different than tracking make/model/color/year. My question is how long do they keep the tag data?

It is already being done (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#37366032)

Most airports have these systems on trucks and drive thru their lots, as they are almost always a County agency there is nothing stoppin them from working with the sheriff to do the same thing. They currently do this to help you find your car nd look for abandoned vehicles.

Many state agencies are adding this system to their State Highway patrols to scan plates as they drive and look for BOLO's and Reg Issues.

The biggest problem is not privacy related (2)

SuperKendall (25149) | more than 2 years ago | (#37366070)

While everyone goes on about loss of privacy, the biggest problem I see is this:

If you cannot generally remember where you put your car, how are you going to remember the random cryptic string of digits that is your license plate to look up your car on this system?

For better or worse, it does seem like the system may be much more helpful to police than visitors.

Please! No! (1)

PPH (736903) | more than 2 years ago | (#37366076)

We hide grandpa's Cadillac for a reason.

Crowdsource it (1)

witherstaff (713820) | more than 2 years ago | (#37366090)

I'm actually surprised there is no android/iphone app that lets you put your phone on the dash and it snaps license plates as you drive. Why should big brother be in the hands of big brother? Let's crowdsource it and figure out where all federal plates, state plates, police, etc are on a regular basis. Altho it would be a stalker's dream app but if the feds are watching us, let's watch back.

I have a great idea. (1)

Nyder (754090) | more than 2 years ago | (#37366126)

Since we are talking iPhones here, I think they all have gps's in them.

You could have an app that records where you left your car at. Either by pressing a button that says something like "Remember this location", so later, you can use the same app to find your way back to that location.

For the lazy, you could have it keep track of where you are, and where you been at all times, so you can retrace your steps even easier.

but no, the best solution is probably spending billions of dollars on special license plate reading cameras and whatever you use to control them. After all, no one would abuse such power.

there is no liberty which people are unwilling to (1)

cats-paw (34890) | more than 2 years ago | (#37366138)

sacrifice for convenience.

Oh, wait, people gave up the 4th amendment at airports and it's now much less convenient.

Curious creatures people are.

Re:there is no liberty which people are unwilling (1)

Plombo (1914028) | more than 2 years ago | (#37366196)

People didn't give that up. Congress gave it up for us, and people vote based on other issues.

Government? What government? (1)

Alex Belits (437) | more than 2 years ago | (#37366180)

The real potential for abuse is the same as with online stores -- tweaking prices depending on customer's expected willingness to pay them.

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