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Automated Plate Readers Let Police Collect Millions of Records On Drivers

timothy posted about 10 months ago | from the carry-on-citizens dept.

Privacy 276

schwit1 writes with a report on just how extensive always-on license plate logging has gotten. The article focuses on California; how different is your state? "In San Diego, 13 federal and local law enforcement agencies have compiled more than 36 million license-plate scans in a regional database since 2010 with the help of federal homeland security grants. The San Diego Association of Governments maintains the database. Unlike the Northern California database, which retains the data for between one and two years, the San Diego system retains license-plate information indefinitely. Can we get plate with code to delete the database?"

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276 comments

Had this in the UK for years (5, Informative)

clickclickdrone (964164) | about 10 months ago | (#44122495)

The police set up vans with cameras that scan the number plates of all the cars that go down the street that day, cross ref for road tax, MOT and/or insurance and send out automated fines if any aren't in order.

Re:Had this in the UK for years (2)

ebno-10db (1459097) | about 10 months ago | (#44122947)

Great, the UK is becoming a panopticon state even faster than the US. As an American, I'm not petty enough to welcome the company.

Being done commercially too ... (4, Interesting)

perpenso (1613749) | about 10 months ago | (#44122955)

I believe businesses are doing it too. Auto repossessors, bail bondsmen and others have mounted cameras on their cars to scan and record the license plates of vehicles around them and enter the data into a private central database that they all subscribe too. The driver receives an alert if a nearby license plate is tagged in the database. Previous location information is also available.

If you have parked in Wal Mart parking lot a local auto repo guy has probably scanned you and you have been entered into the database.

I believe the number of vehicles recovered using this technology is currently in the tens of thousands per year in the U.S.

Re:Being done commercially too ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44123091)

Ever wonder why your purchases via credit card three states removed from home after a day full of driving aren't flagged for a fraud alert? This is why.

Re:Had this in the UK for years (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44123289)

Why would they need a camera for this. Why not just cross reference MOT/Insurance/Road tax against the national car registry?

Re:Had this in the UK for years (1)

Captain Hook (923766) | about 10 months ago | (#44123329)

So long as the car isn't used on Public Roads it doesn't need MOT, Insurance or VED, although you have to declare that the vehicle isn't used or store on the road (SORN Declaration).

Knowing a vehicle isn't insurance etc isn't enough, they have to show you using the vehicle on public roads which is where the camera comes in.

public? (2)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44122499)

Isn't the whole point of license plates that they are a publicly readable tag to identify your vehicle? the state's already have an entire department dedicated to tracking which plate is one what vehicle... its called the DMV... They all share this data with each other. I fail to see how this is a significant concern?

Re:public? (4, Insightful)

TheGratefulNet (143330) | about 10 months ago | (#44122531)

we believe you: you probably DO fail to see why this is such a big deal.

but it is. even if you don't get it.

Re:public? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44122723)

It is illegal to have a car on the UK road if it doesn't have an MOT (stringent annual vehicle safety and emissions inspection), road tax and insurance. Many people try to skirt the system by skipping a month or two and hoping not to get caught. The result is that they are no longer insured.

Perhaps you need to learn English, your post makes zero sense.

Re:public? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44122889)

this information can be used to do more than check for Inspection, registration, and insurance. It can be used to track the whereabouts of individuals. before you start stating that people need to learn english perhaps you should work on your reading comprehension. You should also read such obscure works as George Orwell's 1984, Common Sense, and far too many others to list.

Re:public? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44122917)

Perhaps you need to learn English, your post makes zero sense.

Perhaps you need to learn geography, the world is MUCH larger than the failed former empire
which calls itself the UK.

By the way, how are your bad teeth and your warm beer and your police state doing ?

Re:public? (1)

ebno-10db (1459097) | about 10 months ago | (#44122999)

It is illegal to have a car on the UK road if it doesn't have an MOT (stringent annual vehicle safety and emissions inspection), road tax and insurance. Many people try to skirt the system by skipping a month or two and hoping not to get caught. The result is that they are no longer insured.

Of course the panopticon state is only looking out for our welfare. What government policy isn't strictly concerned with that? Of course the fines going into the treasury don't hurt, but I'd be thrilled if that was the worse that could come of this.

Perhaps you need to learn English, your post makes zero sense.

You're right, assuming the reader is oblivious to anything other than plain literal statements that don't rely on context.

Re:public? (3, Insightful)

Gr8Apes (679165) | about 10 months ago | (#44122537)

Because it's one thing to have an identification item on your car, it's another to track where you are when and store that data. It's no different than the NSA keeping tabs of everyone you know and when you talked to them. If that's not clear, please prep yourself for an anal implant that will collect all data on your person at all times, for the public record.

Re:public? (2)

Jmc23 (2353706) | about 10 months ago | (#44122583)

Or no different than pretty much living in any small town.

Re:public? (1)

zlives (2009072) | about 10 months ago | (#44122643)

i didn't realize small towns were keeping permanent databases.

Re:public? (5, Funny)

Antipater (2053064) | about 10 months ago | (#44122695)

i didn't realize small towns were keeping permanent databases.

They have for decades. It's an undeletable, all-seeing database called "the Pastor's Wife"

brave new world (2)

Thud457 (234763) | about 10 months ago | (#44122651)

Because, unlike patents adding "with a computer" qualitatively changes the situation.
Checks that used to be limited by manpower can be done on every plate that goes by, 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.
And anybody, local PD, FBI, NSA, your insurance company, pissed off $cientologists, criminals staking out people to kidnap, crazy ex-girlfriends, can have the ability to do so.

Re:brave new world (1)

Ol Biscuitbarrel (1859702) | about 10 months ago | (#44122927)

The film version of A Scanner Darkly had cars with barcodes on plates instead of numbers, which were scanned at every intersection. Yes, the system was abused. Or utilized according to design, take your pick. And that 2006 film was set "7 years in the future."

We'll stick with numbers though, for pedestrians' ease of ID. Helps to find your ride in the parking lot.

Re:public? (1)

Holi (250190) | about 10 months ago | (#44122701)

Then you won't mind being tagged with a GPS chip so we can track your location at all times.

Re: public? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44122745)

Well, I already carry a smartphone which is that asking other things...

Re:public? (1)

Wookact (2804191) | about 10 months ago | (#44122997)

What right do they have to know where I go and when with my vehicle? None? It is one thing when someone takes down a suspicious vehicle's plate and reports it in, and a completely different to have a computer categorize all plates heading anywhere. All of the sudden everyone is suspicious.

Exploits implementation (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44122509)

There was a joke circling in Poland a couple years ago:
http://i.pinger.pl/pgr456/3d49724c000eb4404b01224d
worth a try ;)

Re:Exploits implementation (5, Insightful)

gmuslera (3436) | about 10 months ago | (#44122829)

Thats the real world equivalent to the xkcd strip. The problem is, knowing the trend, going in the streets with something like that will surely put you in jail, for years. If they put in jail, for a decade, for scribbling anti-bank messages in sidewalks with washable chalks [rt.com] this will be harder. In fact, is a hack attempt, you could get a century in prison [thenation.com] for that kind of things. Meanwhile, you keep the money and walk free, even if caught screwing the entire world's economy [rollingstone.com]. In their view, law needs justice like a fish needs a bicycle.

Not news for UK (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44122541)

This is not really news for the UK, the UK police have ANPR automatic numberplate recognition, which they put on most major junctions and motorway on and off ramps.

They revealed it a couple of years ago when somebody started shooting people and they tracked his location to the nearest town.

All that has happened is car number plate cloning has become much more wide spread by criminals, the records are also kept forever.

SQL injection (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44122575)

Maybe you can use a bobby tables approach to kill the database....

home grown winner (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44122587)

funny I was just thinking of creating my own plate recorder using a dash base raspberry pi.
VCs start throwing your money NOW!

Re:home grown winner (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44122691)

just use google glass.

Too late, private system already exists (1)

perpenso (1613749) | about 10 months ago | (#44123125)

funny I was just thinking of creating my own plate recorder using a dash base raspberry pi. VCs start throwing your money NOW!

You are too late. A private service with many subscribers and a huge database already exist. Tens of thousands of autos are located and repossessed each year with this system. If you parked at a Wal Mart, a mall, etc in the U.S. then your license plate has probably already been scanned and recorded in this private database as an auto repo guys drive through the parking lot scanning all the plates.

white board... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44122593)

This was just a whiteboard idea... They were not actually supposed to DO it... Guess they skipped the 'there may be legal ramifications here' note I had...

It was supposed to only handle vehicle theft and vehicle flow not be kept around for decades....

never understood the logic behind license plates (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44122623)

if cars need publicly visible license plates in case the owner does something wrong and needs to be identified why don't we apply that same logic to people?

shouldn't all people be required to wear publicly readable identity numbers in case they commit a crime?

Re:never understood the logic behind license plate (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44122681)

yeah the nazis did that. I wonder how it would turn out /sarcasm

Re:never understood the logic behind license plate (2)

ebno-10db (1459097) | about 10 months ago | (#44123165)

yeah the nazis did that

Those numbers were Hollerith codes - thanks IBM! [wikipedia.org].

Courtesy of a death camp he'd once resided in, my neighbor across the street from where I grew up in the US had one of those on his forearm in big characters (they weren't some little unobtrusive thing). Just seeing that growing up left a lasting impression.

Re:never understood the logic behind license plate (3, Interesting)

Antipater (2053064) | about 10 months ago | (#44122827)

People already have a publicly readable identifier called a "face". Since you can't really pick a car out of a lineup, they needed some sort of system.

Funnily enough, the "all you *insert minority* look the same to me" effect was what gave us modern fingerprinting. British in India couldn't reliably pick Indian criminals out of lineups, because all the faces looked the same to them. So they found a different system of identification.

But does it recognize all 50 states? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44122627)

As well as the numerous changes that have been made to the plate designs over the years?

I mean there has to be at least a hundred different guys with ASSMAN on their vanity plate driving around the U.S.

Re:But does it recognize all 50 states? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44122719)

Couldn't there be, at most, 50 different guys?

Re:But does it recognize all 50 states? (1)

camperdave (969942) | about 10 months ago | (#44122977)

Couldn't there be, at most, 50 different guys?

What? Canadians, and South and Central Americans can't drive there?

Only 36 million? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44122679)

The UK ANPR takes 50 million number plate images per day ...

Customized reg plates (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44122751)

I need to get a reg plate that reads: DROP TABLE vehicles;

Re:Customized reg plates (1)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | about 10 months ago | (#44122923)

I need to get a reg plate that reads: DROP TABLE vehicles;

To DMV clerk: Whaddaya mean there's no asterisk available???

Surprisingly low (1)

phantomfive (622387) | about 10 months ago | (#44122767)

36 million over two years is like watching a single freeway. If you want to track a single person, you're not likely to get a whole lot of useful data from that.............

Re:Surprisingly low (1)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | about 10 months ago | (#44122915)

36 million over two years is like watching a single freeway. If you want to track a single person, you're not likely to get a whole lot of useful data from that.............

36 million total scans, not scans of 36 million individual plates.

Re:Surprisingly low (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44123047)

A highway can easily have 100,000 cars/day. So that's actually more like watching one highway for one year. Put it another way; if in a city of one million people everyone takes one trip per day and is scanned once per day, that 36 million records would represent about one month of traffic. It sounds like a big number, but in practice it's really not.

Screw the constitution, right? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44122771)

it is becoming ever so clear that the roads are the key to the government circumventing your constitutional rights [see DUI exception to the constitution]

Re:Screw the constitution, right? (1)

Ronin Developer (67677) | about 10 months ago | (#44123049)

Driving is NOT a right covered by the Constitution - it's a PRIVILEGE allowed by individual states (exception - federal licenses and vehicles) - how quickly people forget or just assume something they consider commonplace to be some sort of a "right".

If you wish to operate a motor vehicle, you are subject to rules and laws of the state where you are operating a vehicle as well as those where the vehicle is registered.

Paranoia (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44122775)

It never ceases to amaze me to the extent people's paranoia takes over their rational senses.

The government issues the license plates, they already have all the information they need on you. The automated license plate readers take it from "we have to run any suspicious plate manually" to "the system will just tell us if that plate is associated with a warrant, crime, if it's on the wrong vehicle/stolen."

If you're relying on the police not looking up your license plate to get away with something, then you're concerned about the wrong thing.

Re:Paranoia (1)

camperdave (969942) | about 10 months ago | (#44123061)

Yeah, It's all fun and games until some schmuck who borrowed his buddy's car to grab a pizza gets gunned down by the cops at a drive through ATM.

Re:Paranoia (1)

SirGeek (120712) | about 10 months ago | (#44123223)

Ok. How's this for a very "possible" scenario.

You're driving a different route (due to road construction/etc.) And your car goes past a house that is under surveillance for some crime (Say prostitution or drugs).

Your car's plate gets "snapped" in front of the house. They don't CARE that you're just driving by, You're driving past a crime scene. They get your data, and then they check your plate and find you had unpaid parking tickets. Then they visit you at your place of employment or better yet your home. They ask for you in regards to a crime at house where Prostitution/Drugs are used.

Does it MATTER to the police that you were just driving by the hose ? Nope. They can use it as an excuse for harassing you.

Does it matter they already knew your plate # ? Nope. They can use the cameras to determine ANYTHING they want:

"Gee. You drive from Camera A to Camera B, a distance of 1 mile. You drove it in 45 seconds, It should have taken you a full minute @ 30MPH. So you're speeding - DING ! Ticket issued. Camera B to Camera C, another Mile. Another 45 seconds, DING Another ticket.

Is that OK with you now ?

Data Lifecycle (5, Insightful)

onyxruby (118189) | about 10 months ago | (#44122779)

The thing that people need to think about is that data is an asset. Like any asset it has a date of acquisition, a period of usefulness and a time that it should be removed from service. Just like you would have a retention policy for your corporate email or payroll records, you should have a retention policy for all other data.

The key is to define the lifecycle of your data ahead of time - before there are any legal actions against it and within legal compliance requirements. Once you have defined your requirements and useful period of retention you need to purge it and destroy all backups - all as a matter of policy. As long as this is your normal course of business your butt is covered in court.

Government owned data like license plate data should be treated the same way. Since it is publicly owned data the public should have a say in how long it is retained. My suggestion is to simply define a policy with a very short retention period. Normal data would be kept for a week and data that matches up to a criminal investigation (stolen car etc) could be retained per legal requirements.

The balance of the thing between big brother / police state and a bonafide crime fighting tool (these things are really good at catching stolen cars for example) is to define your data retention policy as short as possible and zealously enforce it.

Re:Data Lifecycle (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44123075)

But since governments can NEVER be trusted, this point is moot. As soon as they get their dirty hands on any data it will be around for ever, no matter what nice policies are discussed in fluffy words.

Re:Data Lifecycle (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44123119)

They justify this on the basis of the crimes that have been solved with the system. But none of the examples I've seen require *any* data retention. They shouldn't have to retain the data longer then it takes to confirm that it's not a "flagged" plate for any reason, or any further then the system on the squad car that collects it. Simply upload your list of plates to look for on a regular basis. When the camera reads a plate, it checks it against the list. No match -> drop it.

If they're doing anything more then that, then they have ultirior motives above and beyond the feel good "look how many stolen cars we recovered" message that they sell this to the public with.

Throughput (0)

Baby Duck (176251) | about 10 months ago | (#44122797)

Heaven forbid a government agency try to do something with efficiency and accuracy. Too many people complain about this because then they would have to stop telling jokes about government being too slow and too dumb.

Re:Throughput (1)

ebno-10db (1459097) | about 10 months ago | (#44123231)

Heaven forbid a government agency try to do something with efficiency and accuracy. Too many people complain about this because then they would have to stop telling jokes about government being too slow and too dumb.

Nonsense. I've always admired the efficiency and thoroughness of the Stasi.

Stupid Governments (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44122811)

If they want that information all they have to do is go down to the DVM and get it.. The state already has that info.. I see a way to save money.. How about you?

Re:Stupid Governments (1)

camperdave (969942) | about 10 months ago | (#44123331)

If they want that information all they have to do is go down to the DVM and get it

No, they can't. The DMV only tracks the license plate, vehicle VIN, and registered owner. It does not track when and where what plate was scanned by what camera. The DMV can't tell them, when they discover that a particular house was a meth lab, that your car was parked in front of that house every Tuesday night for the past two years. The DMV records won't show that your car, over the past two years, had made stops on subsequent Wednesdays at a few neighbourhood school yards, and Fridays around the block from a sleazy hotel.

Makes it easy for police (3, Informative)

benjfowler (239527) | about 10 months ago | (#44122821)

As others have mentioned, they've had ANPRs in the UK for quite a while.

The cops sit on the side of the road, and they check all passing cars for registration and tax. Then, some basic computation is done: if a plate is seen in two places, which is clearly impossible (e.g. the same plates popping up in distant towns five minutes apart), the plates are flagged as bad, and the police go and chase them.

The idea being, people who break little laws, also tend to break big ones. E.g. a bunch of "poor and misunderstood Asians" who were on route to blow up an EDL rally only got caught, because they had a bad tax disc. The alternative doesn't really bear thinking about (large-scale civil disorder) -- and I'm glad they got caught.

I'm sure the civil-liberties obsessives here would hate the idea of ubiquitous ANPR, but the practicality of the situation is that it works.

Re:Makes it easy for police (2, Insightful)

CanHasDIY (1672858) | about 10 months ago | (#44122895)

I'm sure the civil-liberties obsessives here would hate the idea of ubiquitous ANPR, but the practicality of the situation is that it works.

Theoretically, rounding every non-government employed citizen up and sending them to the work camps and gas chambers "works" even more effectively...

Re:Makes it easy for police (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44123037)

Exactly, and I'm sure the grand parent poster (along with a good chunk of the daily mail readership) would cheer as we slowly plod along the route to that destination (as long as the "right people" are the only ones affected by it).

As for the bombing of the rally, apart from the fact that it would be one set of extremists bombing another (hey, the Islamist's have progressed from random civilian attacks to targeting those directly against them, I consider it an improvement),

I'd also point out that if the UK didn't stick its nose into the middle east it would not have bred such hatred towards it, that would require such drastic protections just to keep civil society from collapsing.

As the saying goes, "Friends come and go, but enemies accumulate", presumably until you end up with so many enemies you cannot function anymore.

Re:Makes it easy for police (1)

benjfowler (239527) | about 10 months ago | (#44123287)

For those of you playing along outside the UK, calling somebody a "Daily Mail reader", is a common slur thrown at people who disagree with the sort of people who read left-wing newspapers like the Guardian.

Blaming Whitey for any and all anti-social behaviour from people who happen to hail from an ethnic minority is also quite common amongst those of a "liberal" persuasion here. It's an insidious form of reverse racism.

The rather absurd idea that brown people can't control themselves and are being provoked by British intervention in the middle east (as opposed to criminality, warped political ideology, indoctrination by extremists, etc), is very common amongst the far Left here.

Re:Makes it easy for police (1)

ebno-10db (1459097) | about 10 months ago | (#44123325)

The idea being, people who break little laws, also tend to break big ones.

Yes. I've occasionally let my car's inspection sticker expire, so it's likely that I'm a terrorist. Please learn the difference between P(A|B) and P(B|A).

a bunch of "poor and misunderstood Asians" who were on route to blow up an EDL rally only got caught, because they had a bad tax disc

But the next time the terrorists might come on foot, so you should add mandatory pedestrian stops with the classic "papers please". They might also swim ashore so you should ensure that people carry their ID when swimming too.

Nice English in the summary (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44122823)

"Can we get plate with code to delete the database?"

I don't know, but u can haz cheezburger!

the more data government collects (3, Insightful)

Presto Vivace (882157) | about 10 months ago | (#44122825)

the more companies who have a vested interested in surveillance and data mining, the greater the economic and political power of those with a vested interest in continuing and expanding these sorts of practices. It is not a good situation.

Someone please create an App (1)

Idou (572394) | about 10 months ago | (#44122935)

That allows me to press a button that:
-Saves to a file the last minute of video recorded from my cellphone mounted to my dashboard.
-Recognizes the license plate number of the idiot that just almost killed my family with their piece of shit pick-up truck.
-Forwards both file and license plate number to the local authorities, who can then apply the appropriate penalty.

Centrally controlled surveillance is dangerous, expensive, and inefficient. It must be limited in a democratic society. Decentralized, community based surveillance has great potential to improve overall quality of life, especially on public roads, where every idiot has a license to kill with their own stupidity.

Re:Someone please create an App (1)

benjfowler (239527) | about 10 months ago | (#44122993)

Seriously, get a dashcam. Every man and his dog in Russia has one, and they stick the videos up on YouTube.

Re:Someone please create an App (1)

Idou (572394) | about 10 months ago | (#44123351)

Yes, and only the most extreme cases make it to Youtube. Is Russia a much safer place to drive because of Youtube?

The barrier to provide negative feedback to the bad drivers needs to be significantly lowered before we will start seeing significant improvements in roadside deaths. . .

Re:Someone please create an App (1)

tukang (1209392) | about 10 months ago | (#44123133)

Centrally controlled surveillance is dangerous, expensive, and inefficient. It must be limited in a democratic society. Decentralized, community based surveillance has great potential to improve overall quality of life, especially on public roads, where every idiot has a license to kill with their own stupidity.

Yeah let's outsource surveillance to the community so that neighbors spy and tell on each other. That doesn't sound like a police state at all.

His earlier thought returned to him; probably she was not actually a member of the Thought Police, but then it was precisely the amateur spy who was the greatest danger of all.

Could be useful (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44123015)

Back when the DC snipers were active, I thought that a system of license plate trackers could have helped catch them - you could call up the plates which had been in a number of the locations, and narrow down your pool of suspects. Basically they wouldn't have been caught if they hadn't been playing games, and the cops spent too long looking at white vans. I can see how the data could be useful in some situations, but there should be clear limits set on retention and use.

Danger of Electronic Law. (1)

jellomizer (103300) | about 10 months ago | (#44123065)

There is a real danger in increasing this electric law.
With governments with Complex and large legal systems combined with the fact that we are human, means most of us probably have broken some minor laws every day. To have a system that indiscriminately catches you, and in essence judges you and send you the fine in the mail. Comes close to the Orwellian 1984 world, but not so extreme.

Re:Danger of Electronic Law. (2)

Baby Duck (176251) | about 10 months ago | (#44123155)

It doesn't say you are automatically fined. You are automatically flagged for human review.

My truck ... (3, Funny)

PPH (736903) | about 10 months ago | (#44123161)

... is already equipped with countermeasures.

The plates are covered with mud and the entrails of small animals.

Millions of Records On *Plates (1)

QuasiSteve (2042606) | about 10 months ago | (#44123175)

Since this is already about cars, I guess it's time for an internet analogy.

Plates are like IP addresses. They cannot be used to identify a specific computer (car) let alone a specific user (driver).

but-but-but (1)

swschrad (312009) | about 10 months ago | (#44123387)

there is no RFC allowing for a change in the plate while in operation, as there is for an IP address. the soft IP was very useful in the life of things like VAXes because of all the licenses tied to the MAC address. so when our net card died at the school, DEC just added a line to the startup script with comments to soft-IP the machine to the old hard address.

used to be in the old days, the cops could spot a fake plate from ten lengths away. now that almost all stamped plates have been replaced with printed plates only, "a hacker" could spoof the plate with some Scotchlite film and black paint.

Over expose and/or damage the image sensor (1)

Bob the Super Hamste (1152367) | about 10 months ago | (#44123221)

I have said before we should be massively over or under exposing these images. Most states have gone to newer style plates that are higher contrast in the IR spectrum and have easier to OCR letters and numbers for this reason. I have been saying we need some high output IR LEDs to illuminate the license plate or the area around it so it either massively over or under exposes the plate to become unreadable by machine. If you are dumping out enough power (No idea what it would take so if others can venture a guess I am all ears) you should be able to either temporarily or permanently damage the image sensor in the camera but I imagine 100W of narrow beam IR from the front and back plate area would make your plate pretty unreadable. You could even build the lights into a license plate holder.

Serendipity (1)

fahrbot-bot (874524) | about 10 months ago | (#44123275)

Can we get plate with code to delete [xkcd.com] the database?"

Coincidentally, the alt text for that xkcd image is: "Her daughter is named Help I'm trapped in a driver's license factory."

So the lesson is ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 10 months ago | (#44123309)

Don't trust the police. Don't trust your government. Don't trust the corporations. Fuck 'em all -- they're all hostile entities.

Any illusion that the US or anywhere else in the world is a free society is a joke.

You know how you destroy a free society? Scare the bejeezus out of them and watch them turn into a police state. If the intent of 9/11 was to undermine Western society, it succeeded.

Congratulations, America -- you are now the opposite of everything you've ever claimed to believe in. And you're now actively causing those things to be eroded elsewhere.

I'm more worried about the privacy (2)

Registered Coward v2 (447531) | about 10 months ago | (#44123315)

of the data than the collection. I know, if you don't collect you don't have the problem but then again I like the idea that if my car is stolen I have a better chance of getting it back; or if break-ins occur in my neighborhood the police may be able to identify some suspects. Oh yeah, and think of the children. Once you start getting the data on plates and their geo location; it becomes relatively trivial to cross reference that with commercial databases and tag / license data to develop a more complete picture of someone's habits. That is potentially valuable information to private companies; how soon is it before the government decides to make the database pay for itself by selling the data? saving the taxpayer's money and all that.

Of course, the first time a politician's habit of visiting certain "shoppes" or the address of some young lovely who is not their partner gets into the news, with pictures, we may see more interest in privacy; just as video rental records became important when they were used against a supreme court nominee.

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