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Aussie Speed Cameras in Doubt Because of MD5

timothy posted more than 9 years ago | from the son-do-I-know-how-fast-you-were-going? dept.

The Courts 1004

An anonymous reader writes "A speeding case has been thrown out in Australia after the Roads and Traffic Authority admitted that it could not prove the integrity of speed-camera photos. 'The case revolved around the integrity of a mathematical MD5 algorithm published on each picture and used as a security measure to prove pictures have not been doctored after they have been taken.'" I wonder if Australian police are as (radar gun) trigger happy as they are in certain parts of the U.S.

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Oh Yeah... (0, Flamebait)

darkfnord23 (696608) | more than 9 years ago | (#13292238)

Because U.S. cops aren't just plain trigger happy, are they?

Re:Oh Yeah... (1)

sentanta (619440) | more than 9 years ago | (#13292241)

If you're name is Amadou...

Re:Oh Yeah... (1)

flubbergust (818863) | more than 9 years ago | (#13292313)

Or Suzie Marie Peña.

Fun.. (2, Interesting)

sisko (114628) | more than 9 years ago | (#13292244)

This will make for a nice backlog in the courts. Although an interesting defence none the less. :-)

Good luck... (2, Interesting)

dal20402 (895630) | more than 9 years ago | (#13292245)

...have you been to a traffic court lately?

American traffic magistrates (at least in WA) would not even understand what an "algorithm" is. They will just see another glib speeder trying to scam the county out of $162.

(Warning for visitors: WA has one of the most zealous state highway patrol forces in the nation. Just don't exceed 10 over the limit here.)

Re:Good luck... (3, Interesting)

jbrader (697703) | more than 9 years ago | (#13292328)

I have a pysics teacher (also in WA) that drives as fast as he wants. Then when he goes to court for the speeding tickets he dazzles the judge with science and calculus until the ticket gets dropped.

Re:Good luck... (1)

maglor_83 (856254) | more than 9 years ago | (#13292329)

(Warning for visitors: WA has one of the most zealous state highway patrol forces in the nation. Just don't exceed 10 over the limit here.) 10mph? You guys have it lucky. Here in Victoria if you're more than 3kph over, you're done. Which is interesting considering a roadworthy car's speedo only has to be within 10%.

Re:Good luck... (2, Interesting)

zakezuke (229119) | more than 9 years ago | (#13292344)

(Warning for visitors: WA has one of the most zealous state highway patrol forces in the nation. Just don't exceed 10 over the limit here.)

Hmmm, i've gotten very few traffic tickets in my life in washington... and there are areas that I make damn sure to speed +10mph over and +20mph over.

the first time I got a ticket was when I was younger and going really +85 in a 55, and got a ticket for going 10 over. I didn't argue that one. I got another ticket for going 10 over in a small town.... it was inbetween a 30mph zone and a 45mph zone... The cop did in all fairness see a sign that said 30 from his angle of view, where I saw a sign "slow down speed zone ahead". The judge threw that out.

All the other times i've been pulled over have been for trivial offences such as a tail light being out, my license plates lights being out, failure to signal/turn signal light being out. Not that I don't replace those bulbs or anything, guess they only last a few years. One case right on red with sign... the sign was confusing as it was a 5 lane intersection, but there was a sign and I knew better.

Pulled over once because I put my year sticker in the "wrong" spot 10 days before my tabs were do... cop in all honesty thought they were expired. I explained that I put them there cause my year stack was full. He told me I need to get in there with a razor blade. I explained in friendly terms that I broke the razor and you could still see it sticking out of my year tabs. He just said "oh".

So three moving violations in my life, one thrown out, one paid in full, one midigated. One I feel was unjustified, one totally 100% justified, and one I just saw the judge to prove I had insurance and got a big discount for saying hello and not wasting his time.

Re:Good luck... (1)

weg (196564) | more than 9 years ago | (#13292396)

Well, I've made only good experience with the police in WA. When I visited Seattle in 2003, I was stopped when biking without helmet (I'm a foreigner and didn't know that you have to wear one). The policeman was very friendly and told me that I should go and buy a helmet (I didn't get a ticket). So, probably it was an advantage to be a foreigner. Here in Austria, you better not be a foreigner when you're stopped by the police...

Re:Good luck... (4, Funny)

Kymermosst (33885) | more than 9 years ago | (#13292412)

Warning for visitors: WA has one of the most zealous state highway patrol forces in the nation. Just don't exceed 10 over the limit here.

WARNING! Police in Washington enforce laws!

Why MD5 (1)

putko (753330) | more than 9 years ago | (#13292246)

Isn't the way you are supposed to do this is that the camera signs the picture with its secret key? Or it signs the MD5 hash of the picture with its secret key?

I don't get why you'd just use MD5 -- then you'd doctor the photo and recompute the MD5 hash.

Re:Why MD5 (4, Insightful)

tonsofpcs (687961) | more than 9 years ago | (#13292278)

I think that is the point of the article. They take the picture, write it and a MD5 hash, then try saying that it is official because it has a matching MD5 hash. I can make any picture with a matching MD5 hash. Even this post can have a matching MD5 hash, does the MD5 hash prove that I wrote it?

Re:Why MD5 (2, Informative)

stuuf (587464) | more than 9 years ago | (#13292420)

Exactly. MD5 alone can't prove "integrity" in the context of security or privacy. It's usually used to ensure that information wasn't accidentally changed or corrupted during a communication error. If someone can modify an image, he can easily find the MD5 hash and update it to reflect the new image. If you need to make sure that your data hasn't been intentionally tampered with, you have to encrypt the hash using a digital signature mechanism. Using simple MD5 works to detect when your transmission or storage systems are bad, but that's it.

Don't speed (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13292247)

and you don't get caught...

Re:Don't speed (0, Troll)

benbean (8595) | more than 9 years ago | (#13292292)

There's always one sanctimonious asshole.

Re:Don't speed (0)

Motherfucking Shit (636021) | more than 9 years ago | (#13292325)

Yeah, that advice really helps when I'm trying to pass an 18-wheeler whose driver is nodding off. Or when I'm in heavy traffic, and an ambulance comes up behind me and there's no clearance to pull to a different lane. Or when I'm minding my business on a one-lane highway, doing somewhere around the speed limit, and some drunk moron comes flying up behind me leaving me nowhere to go but forward in order to avoid being hit.

These and a hundred other mostly excusable situations will result in someone going over the speed limit, sometimes by a substantial amount. The problem with these cameras is that they don't capture context, and they don't have discretion. It becomes an issue of black or white, and "you were speeding," so you get a ticket regardless of the circumstances. That's inappropriate IMO.

Re:Don't speed (1)

HeroreV (869368) | more than 9 years ago | (#13292369)

Please. Do you really believe that most speeding has a resonable excuse?

Re:Don't speed (1)

Versatile Dinosaur (816128) | more than 9 years ago | (#13292362)

Don't you believe it. Recently there have been a number of cases mentioned on Australian "Current Events" TV programs where speeding convictions have been thrown out after the victims were able to prove that the speed cameras were reading more than 20kph high, or that neither they nor their registered vehicles were anywhere near the site of the alleged offence at the stated time. The (I think) Victorian state government was forced to recalibrate their entire network of fixed postion speed traps.

loophole? (5, Insightful)

ciscoguy01 (635963) | more than 9 years ago | (#13292250)

That sounds like a loophole. However I am not in favor of automated law enforcement, I like to face my accuser.

Many of those red light tickets were dismissed in the US for various reasons, some technical, some through loopholes, and some through plain old dishonesty in the ticket system operator. They had lowered the yellow light timing below legal standards to make more money. Outrageous if you ask me.

Law enforcement is supposed to be run by government employees, who have no axe to grind and nothing to gain by dishonesty. I like it like that.

Re:loophole? (5, Funny)

ari_j (90255) | more than 9 years ago | (#13292406)

Demand to face your accuser in court. If a police officer takes the stand, tell the judge to strike everything he says as hearsay and repeat your request that you face your accuser. If they do bring the camera in, accuse it of being uncooperative by not answering your questions, and ask the judge to jail it for contempt.

What's with all the Australian stories? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13292413)

No offense to Aussies, but it's not exactly a "major" nation, is it?

Why don't we ever see as many stories from important countries such as Germany or India?

I cannot believe it's because nothing of interest happens in those places, and I don't buy the "language difficulty" line either.

So come on Slashdot editors, ditch the favouritism and xenophobia: if we have to see story-after-story from a small nation such as Australia, how about some from other small nations, and even better, more from more important countries?

Aussie cops/government are revenue raisers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13292254)

There are speed camera's everywhere and where I live its zero tolerance (too bad if your speedo is slightly out). Not to mention some of the readings are so wrong that the car isnt even capable of doing particular recorded speeds (eg. an old beatup 1970 ford doing 170km/h)

Re:Aussie cops/government are revenue raisers (1)

Zilch (138261) | more than 9 years ago | (#13292317)

So *you're* that guy with that crappy '70 ford!

"Zero tolerance" is a bit of an exeggeration surely. I've been past that camera at slightly over the speedlimit and never had a ticket. I thought they were set to monitor only the top 10% of speeders or something.

While you are complaining, did you notice that the FA said that the harbour tunnel toll cameras hadn't been working for 3 years?


Re:Aussie cops/government are revenue raisers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13292364)

I'm only whinging because I got two seperate tickets, one for being over by 3km/h and the other by 4km/h. I drive an old car and those analogue speedos are by no means precise, this IMHO is revenue raising and not a road safety focus.

Re:Aussie cops/government are revenue raisers (1)

HeroreV (869368) | more than 9 years ago | (#13292380)

too bad if your speedo is slightly out
o_O I'm guessing "speedo" has a different meaning in Australia.

Aussie Cops (1)

Antipex (875564) | more than 9 years ago | (#13292255)

They are trigger happy - they set up traps everywhere.

This won't pass muster. (1)

FireballX301 (766274) | more than 9 years ago | (#13292257)

MD5 is sufficiently secure such that nobody will bother trying to mess with their ticket by generating collisions.

On the flip side, red-light cameras themselves are controversial simply because people don't like them. Here in san diego there was a huge row over them because some of the fines gathered went to Lockheed Martin (camera maker).

Personally, I just put those glass frames that make my license plate unreadable except from direct frontal view, and stay frosty.

Re:This won't pass muster. (1)

FireballX301 (766274) | more than 9 years ago | (#13292271)

Och, I meant to say 'speeding cameras' instead of 'red-light cameras'. In any case, the san diego issue involved red-light cameras mounted at intersections, but it was basically the same thing.

Re:This won't pass muster. (3, Informative)

Dwedit (232252) | more than 9 years ago | (#13292283)

The MD5 of course needs salt, otherwise anyone could self-sign their own stuff.

Re:This won't pass muster. (1)

Armchair Dissident (557503) | more than 9 years ago | (#13292404)

MD5 should not be used as a signing method period! MD5 is a one-way hash, not an authentication mechanism. Even if you add a secret salt to an image before hashing, it's still not a good idea when more secure systems are available.

What you ought to be doing if you want secure authentication - and an expert witness testify that it is a secure authentication mechanism - is have an HSM contain your system's private key and sign every image with an RSA signature. Only a machine with access to the HSM can then sign the images with your private key.

I do wonder what made the manufacturers of the cameras think that a hash was a good way to authenticate images...

Re:This won't pass muster. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13292287)

> Personally, I just put those glass frames that make my license
> plate unreadable except from direct frontal view, and stay frosty.

Reminds me of fun with my uncle who used to use one of the products to spray on the license place, and then a plate holder with glass over the top also designed to stop cameras picking up the ID. Sure enough, taking a photo with a camera showed his plate as just a bright blob, completely unreadable.

Then the silly ass goes through a red light, and not long after gets a fine in the mail with the photo showing where he'd done so, with his plate clear as day, completely readable.

Couldn't help but smile

Re:This won't pass muster. (1)

pauljlucas (529435) | more than 9 years ago | (#13292341)

Hey, can you provide a link for those glass frames? (A quick Google search revlealed nothing interesting.)

Better than trigger happy (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13292261)

Australia (and New South Wales, the state under consideration) has a network of fixed speed cameras. These operate 24hrs every day of the year picking up every speeding car that goes past. They even converted then to digital and networked them to send the piccies back to base so they wouldn't interrupt the revenue stream by running out of film. No triggers involved.

Re:Better than trigger happy (1)

aussie_a (778472) | more than 9 years ago | (#13292307)

Australia (and New South Wales, the state under consideration) has a network of fixed speed cameras.

Probably not the best term to use, considering fixed can mean "rigged to not work properly", as in they'll report you as speeding when you aren't ;)

Depends on the state (3, Informative)

log2.0 (674840) | more than 9 years ago | (#13292266)

I live in South Australia (thats the name of the state, they werent that original when the pohms came here :)

Anyway, we now have speed cameras on traffic light intersections and any random car parked on the side of the road *could* be a speed camera.

In Victoria (where Melbourne is), they are even more tough. As soon as I cross the border to Vic, I don't speed at all.

So the answer is "yes", they are very very trigger happy and in a lot of cases, there was no trigger, just an automated photo.

Re:Depends on the state (2, Interesting)

MoonFog (586818) | more than 9 years ago | (#13292284)

In Norway they have done something even more extreme. They have a camera taking your picture at one place, then several kilometers further down they take a new picture and calculate how fast you have driven between the two cameras, basically, your speed on average must meet the speed limit on average over quite a distance... They are testing this solution right now and it most likely will be legal to set it up.

Re:Depends on the state (1)

log2.0 (674840) | more than 9 years ago | (#13292310)

Yeah, they are testing the same thing in Victoria..."the place to be" (that's their state slogan btw)

It's obvious that this isn't for saving lives but for revenue.

Re:Depends on the state (1)

MoonFog (586818) | more than 9 years ago | (#13292332)

Well, set it up on a stretch where you know people are speeding and it might slow things down a bit.

That said, I see a lot of danger in old and unreliable drivers who will most likely decrease their speed to absolutely make sure that they average out below the speed limit (most likely being 10 - 20 km/h below), which in turn may cause very dangerous situation due to frustration from the drivers behind them..

Re:Depends on the state (1)

log2.0 (674840) | more than 9 years ago | (#13292359)

These types of things are normally put on highways.

Q: What kills on highways?
A: Drowsyness, not speed!

Sure, in Victoria there are signs that say things like "Power nap now!" etc but its not like the cops can have "drowsy camera's"...if they could then I think it would be appropriate.

Re:Depends on the state (1)

MoonFog (586818) | more than 9 years ago | (#13292384)

You're right about that, and speed itself usually does not kill. However, the road infratstructure here is horrible in many places. These camaras will likely be put up in places where passing a car can be dangerous (only one road in each direction, not separated), meaning if someone wants to pass another car, he/she will have to think twice due to the average speed. This way they hope to reduce the number of accidents with cars smashing straight into each other coming from opposing directions. Those accidents are often caused by someone speeding and thinking they can pass the other car before the opposing car can reach them.

Then again, a lot of those passings come due to frustration over the girl driving in front of you 20 km/h below the speed limit because she's scared of driving..

Personally, I see the average thing as another tax on drivers. More need more cops stopping people who are so tired they can't even see straight, not more cameras to detect someone who drives 100 km/h in the 90 km/h zone.

Re:Depends on the state (1)

aussie_a (778472) | more than 9 years ago | (#13292370)

It's sound in theory, and it looks like they're doing tests to ensure that it's sound in practice. I'm assuming it means that it's being done because it's more reliable/cheaper then the current method. I just don't want to see "2km over the limit" speeding tickets because of it, which it could most likely do.

Re:Depends on the state (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13292316)

I live in "North America". I don't think it was an originality problem. As far as I know there aren't any other "North Americas"

Re:Depends on the state (1)

aussie_a (778472) | more than 9 years ago | (#13292350)

As soon as I cross the border to Vic, I don't speed at all.

So the answer is "yes", they are very very trigger happy and in a lot of cases

Although it looks like it's serving it's function as a deterrant to speeding.

Look, I'm normally very cynical about red-light cameras, and speeding cameras (oh the cops are out issuing fines, I guess they're running a bit short of some cash this month). However recently (in New South Wales at the very least), a survey found that most people don't care about the monetary loss of a speeding fine, but do worry about the demerit point loss. So as a result, speeding fines were halved, while the demerit points were doubled (I looked for an online source of this, but couldn't find one. It did happen either earlier this year or very late last year).

Now I could be cynical and claim they must have been getting to much revenue. But I personally think it was made in good faith, and it helped restore my faith in the system (which I have VERY little faith for even now, ESPECIALLY in Sydney).

People hate speeding tickets, but the thing is. If you don't break the law* you won't have to suffer the consequences.

* To those who are getting booked for a couple of kilometers over the limit, I agree that is excessive.

Re:Depends on the state (1)

zsau (266209) | more than 9 years ago | (#13292361)

Actually, as I understand it, in Australia it makes America look like speed cameras are a novel invention.

I was watching a doco once (designed for a US audience, of course) on Autobahns in Germany, and one thing they mentioned, as if it were an outrageous novelty that no-one else had thought of yet, was that they have automated speed cameras. (I spoke to some Americans about this afterwards, and apparently there are parts of America where they have them, but there's states where they're against the law. That struck me as bizarre. Why would a state voluntarily legislate to limit its power? After reading this article, I think I can understand the intended meaning.)

As a Melburnian, I've lived with the Victorian speed cameras all my driving life (which is admittedly short; I'm still no my P's till October this year). So I take it all for granted, and I do sometimes speed but I've not yet been caught. But I still wouldn't mind terribly if this was extented to our fine southern jurisdiction!

Re:Depends on the state (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13292417)

geez what about a little thing called IF YOU DON'T SPEED YOU WON'T GET FINED!

all everyone does is bitch about speed cameras when they get caught but if you don't bloody speed in the first place what problem do you have?

My experiance with speed cameras (4, Insightful)

Frogbert (589961) | more than 9 years ago | (#13292268)

I've experianced speed cameras in both Queensland and Victoria and I have to say that by far Melbourne is the dodgiest of the lot. They claim that the cameras are there to save lives however they are little more then revenue raisers.

Melbournians are subjected to hidden cameras looking over overtaking lanes. The cameras are privatised so people get paid more the more cars they catch. The situation there is terrible.

Queensland is somewhat better because police are required to have a sign out saying that there are speed cameras in use, however this sign is usually conveniently placed behind a bush or behind the car with the camera in it. Queensland is also better off because the police do not rely so heavily on the revenue that their cameras drum up, it seems at times the only thing paying for Melbournes police is speeding offiences.

One thing is certain, these cameras do not save any lives. I remember clearly once in high school a Policeman came to give a talk on vehicle safety he showed us a big graph with a stedily declining death rate over the years, he pointed out the huge drop after the introduction of seat bealts, then one after they banned drink driving, and a smaller drop after the introduction of airbags. My hand immediently shot up and I asked him when speed cameras were introduced, my teachers just laughed and he never answered the question.

Re:My experiance with speed cameras (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13292285)

I think they also contribute to causing accidents. You spend more time with your eyes off the road because you are constantly checking that you are doing the correct speed.

Re:My experiance with speed cameras (4, Insightful)

radja (58949) | more than 9 years ago | (#13292309)

just don't speed. it's not that hard. speeding causes an unnecessary amount of exhaust fumes, which costs lives. just don't, there is no excuse to speed.

Re:My experiance with speed cameras (4, Insightful)

zakezuke (229119) | more than 9 years ago | (#13292402)

just don't speed. it's not that hard. speeding causes an unnecessary amount of exhaust fumes, which costs lives. just don't, there is no excuse to speed.

Yes there is.

1. You've got a huge mac truck on your tail that wants to go faster and won't stop for your little toyota.
2. You've got a huge SUV on your tail that wants to go faster that won't stop for your little toyota
3. Your driving down a huge mountain and your brakes gave out because you were a dumb ass and thought it was a good idea to go exactly the speed limit.

Look, i'm not going to justifify going unsafe speeds... I've done it enough in my life but not going to touch that. No excuse for that.

I am going to touch bases on the fact that keeping with trafic flow results in less accidents. I tried going the speedlimit in many places, thinking I was doing my part for the enviroment and saftey... and I get rear ended by everyone and their neighbor... so I have a choice... either go a little bit faster and reduce the number of accidents I have, or continue blindly following the signs and get in the hospital... again.

BTW... going different speeds, accelerating and decelerating cause an unneccessary amount of exhost fumes... so do automatic transmitions. Going one consistant speed for as long as possible yields the best benifit in fuel consumotion and the least amount of fume production.

In my life as a driver, I have NEVER been in an accident going over the speed limit keeping with trafic flow and being a generally safe driver. I have gotten into accidents when going the speedlimit. And now SUVs are so very popular... i'm going to keep it safe and go with traffic flow... cause it saves lives.

Re:My experiance with speed cameras (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13292334)

"revenue raisers!" - the constant whine of the idiot who just can't seem to work out that speed cameras are a voluntary tax. If you don't like paying the fines, stop speeding.

But of course you are a perfect driver with a perfect car and nothing unexpected can ever happen and you have the right to go as fast as you like... I bet you're a stupid wog with a Commodore too. A fully sick one, mate.

Re:My experiance with speed cameras (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13292335)

In Vitoria the govenment has recently been installing red light cameras that also act as speed cameras to catch those "menaces" speeding up to get through the amber light safely. No doubt for the safety of the general public???

Re:My experiance with speed cameras (1)

KiloByte (825081) | more than 9 years ago | (#13292337)

Solution: put the tickets revenue into a separate money pool, one the police nor city doesn't revenue from.

Re:My experiance with speed cameras (1)

chandip (751271) | more than 9 years ago | (#13292352)

You forgot to mention that Victoria has the lowest road toll in all the sates in Australia. And the Australian road toll [] is significantly lower than the US toll. 40129_press-release_safety-on-american-roads.htm []

The USA had an annual rate of 14.8 road deaths per 100,000 people in 2004 compared to 7.99 in Australia.

Having driven all over the world (30 countries+) I find Australia is a lot stricter on enforcement but also has very safe roads. Chandi

Re:My experiance with speed cameras (1)

Depili (749436) | more than 9 years ago | (#13292365)

I don't know about the states, but at least here in Finland the cameras have been placed mostly in intersections and places where speeding leads to dangerous stituations. Also all roads have clearly visible signs informing drivers that there are automatic trafic cameras nearby.

Also all pictures are taken with traditional cameras using film, so there sohuld be no arguments about photo manipulation, and in general the finnish justice system seem to be much more sensible than what passes for justice across the great pond.

Mmm... (3, Informative)

iamdrscience (541136) | more than 9 years ago | (#13292273)

Just to make it clear, this guy didn't prove something was flawed in their system, so much as the courts didn't bother to find an expert witness.

Re:Mmm... (1)

SimilarityEngine (892055) | more than 9 years ago | (#13292293)

Apparently they "couldn't" find an expert. I wonder if that means they couldn't find a willing expert? I guess mathmaticians must hate speed cameras as much as anyone else...

In all seriousness, that linked article was pretty light on facts. I mean, was the defendant saying that the police had gone to the trouble to figure out how to doctor the image in such a way that the MD5 checksum was preserved? That must take some effort, surely? Or was it claimed that both the image and the checksum had been altered?

Information Superhighway (4, Funny)

hamfactorial (857057) | more than 9 years ago | (#13292275)

Officer: Please sign and initial box A, put your phone number and address in box B, please confirm and write in this 32-digit md5 hash in boxes C and D...

Trigger Happy - why do you care (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13292276)

Why should it bother you if speed trap police are trigger happy ? :

If they pull the trigger on you and you are not speding, you don't care; if you are speeding then they will stop you, and I hope they stop you before you kill my children and or yourself.

Drive responsibly or stay off the road.

Re:Trigger Happy - why do you care (2, Insightful)

dogwelder99 (896835) | more than 9 years ago | (#13292366)

That's why I want the government monitoring every keystroke I type on the internets. If you're doing nothing questionable, you have nothing to fear, right? Protect the children!

No one should be falling for scams like this in 2005. Want to make the roads safer, all you have to do is require a driving test that couldn't be aced by the average 8 year old. Hard as it is to believe, the guys setting up covert surveillance around you do not have your best interests at heart... not when their budgets and revenue streams are in question.

The real concern is when an institution supposed to be dedicated to the public good becomes parasitic on it, to perpetuate itself. Usually that's when the platitudes about protecting the children and ensuring your safety start showing up, and anyone with a brain should recognize them for what they are: bullshit. In the last 10 years, I've been hit three times by "trigger-happy" cops or their surveillance programs for absurd offences that just happen to require cash payments, to them; I've NEVER been hit by someone speeding.

Obligatory (5, Funny)

mikeophile (647318) | more than 9 years ago | (#13292281)

Heisenberg was driving down the Autobahn whereupon he was pulled over by a policeman. The policeman asked, "Do you know how fast you were going back there?
Heisenberg replied, "No, but I know where I am."

verb tense (0, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13292403)

"No, but I knew exactly where I was"

The Daily Telegraph? (1)

ta bu shi da yu (687699) | more than 9 years ago | (#13292286)

How about we source a reliable news source? The Telegraph is for people who find it hard to read.

Melbroune Speed cameras (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13292291)

Apparently in Melbourne they'll nab you for 3kmh over the limit, thats less tham 2mph for those in the northern hemisphere. Here in Perth, WA we can usually get away with 10kmh before being busted :)

Re:Melbroune Speed cameras (1)

aussie_a (778472) | more than 9 years ago | (#13292410)

I think anyone that wanted to fight it, easily could. Just grab a document saying speedo's can have a margin of error of 10%. They might have to provide evidence that their car is out by that much, but then you can just concede defeat and pay the damn fine.

Fun times for all. (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13292295)

I live in Victoria, Australia (the state Melbourne is in) -- these refer to cameras in New South Wales (the state Sydney is in). There's been a rather strong backlash against speed cameras here; the margin has been lowered to 3kph. If you do exceed the speed limit by more than 25 kph, you lose your license for a month; more than 35 kph is six months; more than 45 kph is twelve months. The fines are harsh: $131 (Australian) for less than 10kph; $210 for less than 25 kph; $278 for less than 35kph; $377 for less than 45 kph; and $451 for more than 45 kph.

There have been cases of cars being clocked at speeds greater than they are physically capable of doing, and a great brou-ha-ha about how travelling "five kph above the speed limit" doubles your risk of crashing (with some people extrapolating that to an exponential curve). (For the record: the research is five kph above the prevailing speed of the traffic, and it's not exponential.)

If speed camera evidence is deemed untrustworthy, you can see a large chunk of government revenue fly out the window; they'll be onto it as fast as they can get their snouts out of the pork barrel.

Re:Fun times for all. (3, Insightful)

Zilch (138261) | more than 9 years ago | (#13292355)

Dude! If are going to be going through a school zone with kiddies about (marked 40k's) at 45k's OVER THE LIMIT, (ie 85k's) then you well deserve to loose your licence for 12 months and cough up $451 bucks. I think you are getting off lightly.


Re:Fun times for all. (0, Flamebait)

HillBilly (120575) | more than 9 years ago | (#13292371)

If the kids are on the road they deserve to die, espically the ones too lazy to use the crossing area usually made availible in school zones.

Darwin applies everywhere.

US cops are radar freaks? (1)

Rosco P. Coltrane (209368) | more than 9 years ago | (#13292296)

I wonder if Australian police are as (radar gun) trigger happy as they are in certain parts of the U.S.

Hello? have you ever been to the UK or to France? there is a friggin' *network* of automated speed cameras that track you every-bloody-where and send you the bill directly by mail. There is almost no place where you can truly go over the speed limit. The US is a relaxed, friendly place compared to those countries...

Re:US cops are radar freaks? (1)

SimilarityEngine (892055) | more than 9 years ago | (#13292323)

I wonder whether the Brits/French use a similar system to Australia.... hmmmm............

Re:US cops are radar freaks? (1)

zakezuke (229119) | more than 9 years ago | (#13292356)

There is almost no place where you can truly go over the speed limit. The US is a relaxed, friendly place compared to those

the the folks from germany observed that here, at least in washington.... there are lots of speedlimit signs... which is good so you always know how fast you should go. But no one pays attention to these signs... a given 35mph might be an average of 45, some 45s an average of 60, and a random mix inbetween. They all pretty much decided to go with the flow... the signs had no meaning, and everyone was happy. Oh yea, no tickets.

Re:US cops are radar freaks? (1)

timmyf2371 (586051) | more than 9 years ago | (#13292405)

Of course, the good thing is that in the UK the authorities must publish locations of automatic fixed cameras and also mobile speed cameras. That, and automatic cameras must be visible marked yellow. Oh and safety camera detection devices are legal to use.

In other words, if I'm as daft as to speed through a speed camera I deserve to get my punishment - firstly for breaking the law and secondly for not seeing the camera.

I hate to say it, but... (0, Flamebait)

jasohill (797697) | more than 9 years ago | (#13292299)

If you don't speed, then you won't have any problems at all. Keeping that in mind, I actually did get a photo radar ticket year ago for going about 15km over the limit. It was a area that dropped from 60km/h to 40km/h. I wasn't too happy about it, but in retropect, I've never received another one since that time.

    So, basically, don't speed, and you'll have no worries. Also, don't go through red lights, either. That's just crazy!

Re:I hate to say it, but... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13292374)

You're a dickhead. So if the police say you shouldn't go walking out at night for your own safety, you'd obey that too? Or would you only not do it if there was a fine involved. Speed cameras are purely there to raise revenue. People drive at a speed depending on the surrounding environment - if it's a wide straight road marked at 40 Km/h, everyone will drive fast than 40 Km/h unless there is a speed camera there. If it is a windy road in low visability in the wet, and the speed limit is 100 Km/h, people won't go that fast. Studies have shown that there are less accidents when people drive at an appropriate speed and aren't constantly looking at the speedo and looking around for cop cars, and instead keep their goddamn eyes on the road!

On another note, does anyone remember that police idea about being there to protect and serve the people? Doesn't seem like that's happening nowadays huh?

You know.... (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13292300)

If you don't speed you don't get caught.

It's as simple as that.

Even if you are overtaking you are not allowed over the limit.

I suggest some people read the road rules again.

Yes, I do drive. I am from Tasmania. I'm sick of hearing these half-arsed excuses.


Speed Cameras (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13292311)

I live in Melbourne (Victoria, Australia) and speed camera's are so rife over here that the state government has actually contracted out the speed camera work to a private sector contractor!!

So you have the situation where ANY car parked on the side of the road is an automated speed camera. The operator sets up the speed camera and then sits in the car reading a book for an hour or two, then moves onto the next site.

I haven't seen a policeman or policewoman with a radar gun in 5 or 6 years...

Slightly Off Topic Speeding Ticket Joke (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13292315)

Slightly off topic, but one of my favorite jokes...
So there was this guy driving through town one day, he was going about 100 in a 35, he crosses over a bridge and not too far past the end of it he sees the familiar blinking lights behind him and pulls over. The police officer comes up to the window and asks him where he's trying to get in such a hurry, and the guy says he's late for work.
The cop says "what job do you have that you have to get to so urgently?" and the guy says "I'm a Rectum Stretcher"
The cop looks a little funny at the guy and says "A Rectum Stretcher? What does a a Rectum Stretcher do?"
The guy says "well, first you start with a finger or two, work you way up to a fist, and keep going until it's six feet wide"
The cop looks absolutely amazed and says "Well, what do you do with a six foot asshole?" and the man replies
"You give him a radar gun and stick him at the end of a bridge".

As usual... (5, Informative)

TheOriginalRevdoc (765542) | more than 9 years ago | (#13292320)

...the facts are less interesting than the headline. case-after-maths-whizzes-break-speed-camera-code/2 005/08/10/1123353388395.html []

A Sydney magistrate, Laurence Lawson, threw out the case because the Roads and Traffic Authority failed to find an expert to testify that its speed camera images were secure.

I.e., it wasn't thrown out because MD5 is suspect; it was thrown out because the government couldn't find an expert witness to be cross-examined, for some reason we don't know. In fact, I'd read that statement as meaning that the magistrate wanted to examine the entirety of speed camera security, not just MD5.

The motorist's defence lawyer, Denis Mirabilis, argued successfully that an algorithm known as MD5, which is used to store the time, date, place, numberplate and speed of cars caught on camera, was a discredited piece of technology.

That part of the story is just a lawyer's opinion, not a fact. "Successfully", in the context of the previous quote, just means that his argument was unopposed in court.

My understanding is that it is easy to generate multiple messages that have the same MD5 hash, but only if you get to choose both messages. It's still very hard (i.e., an infeasibly large number of CPU cycles for most of us) to generate data that yields the same MD5 hash as some other, arbitrary document.

It all sounds to me more like a case of blinding a magistrate with science, than some kind of victory for common sense. (Well, lawyers are involved, so commonsense isn't relevant, anyway.)

Re:As usual... (1)

SimilarityEngine (892055) | more than 9 years ago | (#13292388)

Just had a look on google, and it turns out that (in Britain anyway) the speed cameras are digital - i.e. there was never a true film photograph which was subsequently digitised. Maybe this kind of problem could be avoided if actual film was used? It would complicate processing of the data by introducing an extra step (scanning the photo), but if the original negative is archived, maybe that can be used to prove no tampering took place? Maybe this is impractical, but if purely digital images + MD5 hashes are going to be considered untrustworthy by the courts, could it be the best option? (Alternatively the speed camera could simultaneously take a digital photo and a film photo, saving you the trouble of scanning. The negative would be developed only if the digital photo is disputed)

Okay I'll get back to work now.......

Re:As usual... (1)

kasperd (592156) | more than 9 years ago | (#13292418)

My understanding is that it is easy to generate multiple messages that have the same MD5 hash, but only if you get to choose both messages. It's still very hard (i.e., an infeasibly large number of CPU cycles for most of us) to generate data that yields the same MD5 hash as some other, arbitrary document.

That is basically correct. Easy might be an exaggeration, but at least it has been done using lots of CPU power. And though you have to be able to choose parts of each message, you don't have to be able to choose all of it. So it might be possible, that if you gave me two different pictures A and B, I could produce two new pictures A' and B' with same MD5 hash such that A and A' looks exactly the same, and B and B' also looks the same. But since I had to match the MD5 sum of A, this wouldn't help me. The reason I say it might be possible is, that so far this have only been demonstrated with postscript files. It is a bit more difficult to do in a format which does not contain some kind of programming language.

Ridiculous (1)

Paul Crowley (837) | more than 9 years ago | (#13292331)

The state of the art in exploiting what is known about generating MD5 collisions relies on generating executabe content with colliding checksums, and causing that content to behave differently because of the distinct blocks. Making two meaningfully different images that have colliding checksums is much, much harder. The best technique currently available for doing that is still brute force, which is just about on the edge of practical for a single pair of photos given a massive distributed effort - perhaps a ten or a hundred times more work than's RC5-64 effort.

It's not proof in the mathematical sense - no real-world assertion admits such a proof - but I don't think one could entertain reasonable doubt that someone had gone to the effort of forging an MD5 collision in order to stick someone with a bogus speeding fine.

Details (5, Informative)

Effugas (2378) | more than 9 years ago | (#13292347)

OK, I'm partially responsible for people seeing applied attack against MD5 [] , so I'll comment for a second.

Basically, in 2004 Xiaoyun Wang released two different files with the same MD5 hash. This has been predicted since around 1996, when Hans Dobbertin showed the hash was broken -- but it took a while for the actual attack to show up.

Alot of people said there were _no_ applied uses. Not true. For instance, the following two pages have the same hash:

Lockheed Martin []
Boeing []

What's important to realize about the above content is that both web pages are included in both links; the difference between the source files (which MD5 is blind to) is just used to determine which page is displayed. What that means is that, for forensic purposes, it's trivial to rule out the best known attack against MD5 -- just look at the content being hashed.

Thats not to say we should keep using MD5. It's broken, we need to move on. But attempts to claim that MD5 is broken, so we have no idea of any link between hashed content and real material -- that's just ridiculous. We have plenty of idea, especially with human-guided forensic operations.

That being said -- if you can doctor a photo, you can doctor a hash. This is one of the things that makes files hosted on a single server w/ MD5 hashes "verifying" them a little silly...if you can alter the file, you can alter the .md5 file as well. (Files on multiple servers are a little different, because you can go elsewhere to see the deviating MD5 hash.)

If so many people are speeding... (1, Insightful)

threaded (89367) | more than 9 years ago | (#13292348)

If so many people are speeding why don't they just increase the speed limit?

Many studies show that the roads are the safest if everybody is travelling at the same speed.

Anyway what is this concern over speed? Consider motorways: these are the roads with the highest speeds yet are also the safest.

Re:If so many people are speeding... (1)

pintomp3 (882811) | more than 9 years ago | (#13292415)

two words: easy money

Re:If so many people are speeding... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13292422)

so people go fast on motorways, motorways are safe therefore going fast is safe?

I wish I lived in a world as simple as yours.

Re:If so many people are speeding... (1)

thegamerformelyknown (868463) | more than 9 years ago | (#13292425)

One major reason for not raising the speed limit is engineering. When roads are designed, they have a safe maximum, and there are some cases where you simply CANNOT go over that limit.

For example, where I live there is a very busy piece of highway that goes over some mountains. On one end, there is a corner, and at that point the speed limit lowers 30 km/h. There are 2 or 3 signs saying this in different shapes, sizes, designs and colours (no kidding), and there is STILL 3 or 4 major accidents every year on that one corner.

While if everyone is going the same speed there ARE advantages, remember, not everywhere is applicable.

I was hoping someone else would post this story (2, Interesting)

syousef (465911) | more than 9 years ago | (#13292351)

I submitted and got rejected, and I thought if this wasn't a /. story nothing was.

My question is how long before this sort of defence gets used against evidence in the form of video surveilence in general? How long before a bank robber can argue that the bank's security camera footage isn't secure? Or is this simply a classic case of a judge that does not understand, and a roads and traffic authority too apathetic and sure of itself to provide what's needed for the correct judgement?

I have no love of the RTA. In NSW it's now 3 points off your license for going over the speed limit by a single kilometer/hour, and 6 points for the same if it's a long weekend or holiday period. So basically you can now lose your license for doing 1 kilometer over the limit twice over a 3 year period.

Good riddance (5, Interesting)

bananahammock (595781) | more than 9 years ago | (#13292353)

Speed cameras in Perth (West Coast for the punters) are a real bitch. I hear these contraptions pay for themselves within a week of indiscriminately snapping drivers going just 4-5km/h over the speed limit. That probably sounds reasonable in built up areas where you the speed limit is 40km/h (during school hours), but on the open road where 110km/h is legal, you're better off flicking on the cruise control to avoid the boys in blue. Pre-cameras, the cops used to book you for in excess of 9km/h in the country - at least then there was some logical wiggle room, not to mention it wasn't some impersonal surprise money earner turning up in your mail one day.

The extraordinary thing is that around the burbs, often I have to put my foot on the brake going down small hills just to ensure I don't edge over the limit. Perhaps sales of brake pads and cruise control equipment have increased substantially since the introduction of these fuckers. Both my parents have received speeding fines in the last few years, having gone for over forty years with a clean record.

As an aside, a few years back, one chap was flashed by the camera as he drove by and promptly responded by swerving into the offending machine, taking it out all together. Unfortunately, these cameras have a bunch of wire connected to a nearby van, which stores all the data. The cops simply lifted the last photo taken and arrested the guy. Though a tad rash in his response, I still consider him a legend.

What I like to do... (3, Funny)

TheOtherAgentM (700696) | more than 9 years ago | (#13292357)

I just like to drive so fast that the cameras see me as a blur.

What about the UK? (1)

mustafap (452510) | more than 9 years ago | (#13292368)

Does anyone know if cameras in the UK use the same system?

Not trigger happy, Jan. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13292372)

This is just one problem with speed cameras in OZ. Many fixed ones have been causing quite a bit of strife here not just over the integrity of the images but more over inaccurate speed measurements.

trigger happy? (1)

Heretik (93983) | more than 9 years ago | (#13292376)

They don't need to be "radar-gun trigger happy", Big Brother has cameras everywhere busting speeders, and surveiling the general population for no particular reason. No need for a radar 'gun' when an automated system does it for you.

If you go around the city in Melbourne, you're more or less on camera the entire time. I recently read in the paper that, on average, a Melbourne citizen appears on 100 surveillance cameras a day (assuming you go downtown, etc)

It's frightening, they're everywhere. Both government and private owned. Noone cares.

- A Canadian in Australia

If your caught speeding (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13292378)

If your caught speeding then you should pay up. Regardless. I think that the government should close this loop hole and increase the speeding fines to compensate.

The ACT is at least reasonable (2, Informative)

batkiwi (137781) | more than 9 years ago | (#13292379)

-post on the website the location of all fixed and mobile speed cameras /index.html []
-have big signs saying "RED LIGHT AND SPEED CAMERA AHEAD" for fixed cameras

If you get nabbed with those conditions, you deserve your ticket.

How do they link the hash and the image? (1)

soricine (576909) | more than 9 years ago | (#13292389)

How do they demonstrably connect a hash to an image?

I see no way the hash could be included IN the image (it would be recursive to hash an image of a hash, wouldn't it?)

Surely if the hash is just printed next to the image, there is nothing to stop you doctoring the image, recomputing the hash, and then doctoring the hash?

Sorry if this is obvious.

It sounds to me like an MD5 hash adds the impression of security, without actually offering anything of the sort.

Kind of related... (4, Informative)

Goth Biker Babe (311502) | more than 9 years ago | (#13292390)

In the UK the deployment of speed cameras is at the discretion of the chief constable (the boss) of the local constabulary (usually with the jurisdiction of the county they are situated in). Interesting one or two counties in the UK don't have speed cameras. Even more interesting is that in the last set of figures, those counties without them actually saw a drop in injuries and fatalities whereas those with saw a rise.

The thing about speed limits and cameras is that they are set an arbitrary value which, on average, appears to suit the road. But it's like seat belts, there are times when wearing one is worse than not wearing one but on average its better to wear one. My particular bug-bear is speeds on motorways. A nice sunny Sunday morning when the road is empty 100mph is not dangerous. 50mph in the fog in rush hour is. Speed cameras don't generally account for that. Speed doesn't kill. Inappropriate speed kills.

There is one section of one motorway in the UK that has it right. A section of the M25 has adjusting speed limits and cameras to suit. I would like to see them on all motorways, moving from 30mph at the lower end to 100mph at the upper end. (Why 100 because that's the top speed of some small cars and having cars with differing speeds is also dangerous).

All depends on the pay scale (1)

AnimeFreak (223792) | more than 9 years ago | (#13292393)

In the Province of British Columbia, every police officer has a payscale to use when they hand out driving infraction tickets. When speeding, the scale here starts at 20 KM/h over the limit and higher. So if you were to do 10-15 KM/h over the limit, the officer cannot properly give you a ticket.

In Alberta, where photo radar prevails (it was abolished in BC), the camera only triggers at 15 KM/h over the limit.

To be honest, photo radar is stupid because people here just avoided it by claiming they never got a ticket. Eventually the government got tired of people sitting on tickets and scrapped the project due to the cost of sending police officers to each ticketed home.

could be retardary (1)

srchestnut (717652) | more than 9 years ago | (#13292399)

"MD5 algorithm published on each picture"

Perhaps they calculate the md5 and overlay it on the picture, losing the original image. Now the md5 is drastically different and they have no way to prove the original image (without the checksum printed on it) matches the checksum.

It would be quite a trick to incorporate an md5 into an image that hashes to that md5.

The defense was simply (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 9 years ago | (#13292421)

They could not provide an expert witness to explain MD5.

Big deal


Easy way to defeat camera (1)

vectorian798 (792613) | more than 9 years ago | (#13292423)

Simply drive REALLY fast like 70mph or something and the camera won't be able to capture it properly ^_^

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