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posted by CoolHand on Sunday May 10 2015, @03:49AM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the evil-vs-good dept.

It's not just governments and law enforcement agencies that are advocating the use of license plate readers, as The Intercept's Lee Fang reports:

As privacy advocates battle to rein in the use of automated license plate readers (ALPRs), they're going up against another industry that benefits from this mass surveillance: lenders and debt collectors. [...] In Rhode Island, for instance, state Rep. Larry Valencia and state Sen. Gayle Goldin proposed bills in 2014 to prohibit the sale or trade of data collected by ALPRs, and to mandate that the state destroy records after one year.

I filed a records request and found two letters in opposition. One letter came from the[sic] Steven G. O'Donnell, on behalf of the Rhode Island State Police, arguing that law enforcement should be able to come up with its own internal procedures to govern the use of ALPRs. The other letter came from Danielle Fagre Arlow, senior vice president to the American Financial Services Association (AFSA), a trade group for consumer lending companies, some of which target the subprime market.

"Our particular interest in the bill," Arlow wrote, "is the negative impact it would have on ALPR’s valuable role in our industry – the ability to identify and recover vehicles associated with owners who have defaulted on their loans and are not responding to good-faith efforts to contact them." Arlow opposed the bill's restrictions on "how long data can be kept because access to historical data is important in determining where hard-to-find vehicles are likely located."

AFSA lobbied against several similar bills as they were proposed around the country. In Massachussetts, the group lobbied against a bill designed to destroy ALPR records after 90 days. AFSA argued that such a regime is unfair because "ALPR systems work best when they are used to string together the historical locations of vehicles."

[...] According to the ACLU of Rhode Island, the ALPR privacy bill died last session — notably, the bill failed after the consumer lending lobbyists voiced their opposition.

Unofficial Secrets is a newly launched and more frequently updated blog from First Look Media/The Intercept.

Related stories:

DHS Wants a National License Plate Tracking System
Ars Technica Obtains Large Dataset of Oakland Police Department License Plate Scans
Watch Out for "Automated Vehicle Occupancy Detection"

Related Stories

DHS Wants a National License Plate Tracking System 43 comments

siliconwafer writes "The US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is looking to acquire a vehicle license plate tracking system, to be used at the national level. According to the solicitation obtained by the Washington Post, commercial readers, supplied by a private company, would scan the plate of vehicles and store them in a "National License Plate Recognition" (NLPR) database. This is already being done at the state level, and privacy advocates are up in arms, with EFF and ACLU suing California over their automatic plate readers. Now that this has potential to become a broad and national program."

[ED Note: "Shortly after the Washington Post broke the story on the national plate reading system, it appears the DHS has shelved their plans for the tracking system, by order of Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson, at least in the interim."]

Ars Technica Obtains Large Dataset of Oakland Police Department License Plate Scans 27 comments

Ars Technica used a public records request to obtain a large dataset of license plate scans from 33 License Plate Readers (LPRs) in Oakland, California:

OAKLAND, Calif.—If you have driven in Oakland any time in the last few years, chances are good that the cops know where you’ve been, thanks to their 33 automated license plate readers (LPRs).

Now Ars knows too.

In response to a public records request, we obtained the entire LPR dataset of the Oakland Police Department (OPD), including more than 4.6 million reads of over 1.1 million unique plates between December 23, 2010 and May 31, 2014. The dataset is likely one of the largest ever publicly released in the United States—perhaps in the world.

After analyzing this data with a custom-built visualization tool, Ars can definitively demonstrate the data's revelatory potential. Anyone in possession of enough data can often—but not always—make educated guesses about a target’s home or workplace, particularly when someone’s movements are consistent (as with a regular commute).

It seems the cars of police officers, politicians, and others doing the spying should have been captured by the LPRs too. A prize for the first person to separate out what they've been up to...

California Senate Bill Could Thwart Automated License Plate Readers 26 comments

A bill in the California Senate would allow drivers to cover their license plates when parked to prevent automated license plate readers from reading them. Law enforcement (or somebody else) would have to manually lift the cover to obtain the license plate number:

If the Electronic Frontier Foundation and a San Diego-based Republican state senator have their way, it will soon become legal for Californians to cover their license plates while parked as a way to thwart automated license plate readers.

[...] As written, the new senate bill would allow for law enforcement to manually lift a cover, or flap, as a way to manually inspect a plate number. The idea is not only to prevent dragnet license plate data collection by law enforcement, but also by private companies. A California company, Vigilant Solutions, is believed to have the largest private ALPR database in America, with billions of records.

Ars is unaware of a commercially available product that would allow a license plate to be easily blocked in this fashion. A man in Florida was arrested earlier this year for using a miniature black screen that could be activated via remote control as a way to block his plate number when he passed through automated toll booths.

The new bill will come up before the California State Senate Transportation and Housing Committee on Tuesday, May 9—the first stop in the legislative process.

The California Police Chiefs Association has already filed its opposition to the bill. In a letter to Sen. Joel Anderson, the group argued that the bill would only benefit one group: "those who are trying to evade law enforcement and detection." Similarly, the bill has faced resistance from the California Public Parking Association, among other groups.

Related:
DHS Wants a National License Plate Tracking System
Debt Collectors Fight Privacy Advocates Over License Plate Readers
Arizona City Using Fake Cacti to Hide License Plate Cameras
Louisiana Governor Vetoes License Plate Reader Bill, Citing Privacy Concerns.
Open Source License Plate Reader: Little Brother Strikes Back!
Federal Agents Enlisted Local Police to Scan License Plates at Gun Shows
Amazon Wants to Scan Your License Plate


Original Submission

Watch Out for "Automated Vehicle Occupancy Detection" 35 comments

The Electronic Frontier Foundation is warning of a new surveillance technology to look out for alongside drones, automatic license plate readers, facial recognition, IMSI catchers (like Stingray), and Rapid DNA analyzers. It's Xerox's new and improved system for Automated Vehicle Occupancy Detection, also known as Automated Vehicle Passenger Detection or Automated Vehicle Occupancy Verification:

For years, government agencies have chased technologies that would make it easier to ensure that vehicles in carpool lanes are actually carrying multiple passengers. Perhaps the only reason these systems haven't garnered much attention is that they haven't been particularly effective or accurate, as UC Berkeley researchers noted in a 2011 report.

Now, an agency in San Diego, Calif. believes it may have found the answer: the Automated Vehicle Passenger Detection system developed by Xerox.

The San Diego Association of Governments (SANDAG), a government umbrella group that develops transportation and public safety initiatives across the San Diego County region, estimates that 15% of drivers in High Occupancy Vehicle (HOV) lanes aren't supposed to be there. After coming up short with earlier experimental projects, the agency is now testing a brand new technology to crack down on carpool-lane scofflaws on the I-15 freeway.

Documents obtained by CBS 8 reporter David Gotfredson show that Xerox's system uses two cameras to capture the front and side views of a car's interior. Then "video analytics" and "geometric algorithms" are used to detect whether the seats are occupied.

When the detection system's computer determines a driver is improperly traveling in the carpool lane, the cameras instantly send photos of the car's interior and its license plate to the California Highway Patrol.

In short: the technology is looking at your image, the image of the people you're with, your location, and your license plate. (SANDAG told CBS the systems will not be storing license plate data during the trial phase and the system will, at least for now, automatically redact images of drivers and passengers. Xerox's software, however, allows police the option of using a weaker form of redaction that can be reversed on request.)

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  • (Score: 2, Troll) by MichaelDavidCrawford on Sunday May 10 2015, @03:56AM

    I was offered a job writing a license plate reader for the iphone, specifically for use in finding cars that are wanted for repossession. I was interested to take the work at first, but after some reflection, I never showed up to the job.

    I wasn't completely clear how it would work, but one way or another, users would be paid for using my app. I don't know whether they would be rewarded only when they found a car that was wanted, or for the quantity of license plate numbers they submitted &c.

    Just today I learned of some town in Arizona that has hidden dozens of license plate readers in fake cacti. I haven't owned a car for a few years, but lately I've been thinking of getting one, or maybe even a motorcycle, as public transit doesn't go to any of the remote places I like to visit.

    I'm not so sure I want to drive at all though, as I don't want to be tracked. Maybe I'll ride my bicycle to arizona.

    Imagine a complete stranger were to follow you around. Even if he kept his distance, it would be quite disconcerting to see that same stranger everywhere you went.

    In my specific case, I suffer from clinical paranoia. Were I to get a car, then spend lots of time contemplating license plate readers, I'd be in a psychiatric hospital in no time at all.

    --
    Yes I Have No Bananas. [gofundme.com]
    • (Score: -1, Troll) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 10 2015, @04:03AM

      by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 10 2015, @04:03AM (#180969)

      How much of what you say about yourself and your past life experience is actually true, and how much is total bullshit?

    • (Score: 4, Insightful) by frojack on Sunday May 10 2015, @04:33AM

      by frojack (1554) Subscriber Badge on Sunday May 10 2015, @04:33AM (#180986) Journal

      There are half million of these in the Android Play store. Many for EU and even Russia.

      No clue what the average guy would do with these other than to become bounty hunters for dead-beats.
      I would think the way to go about this for the Loan recover business would be for them to publish a list to the app, rather than the app simply sending random plates in to some company in the sky.

      But I bet that's not what they plan. I bet they end up trying to track Every Financed Vehicle for the term of the loan.

      Not content with the surveillance society, they now aim to turn us against each other.

      Glad you walked away.

      --
      No, you are mistaken. I've always had this sig.
      • (Score: 2) by MichaelDavidCrawford on Sunday May 10 2015, @05:15AM

        more or less the way I would do it would be to scan license plates all over town, then search for matches from lists that I obtained from auto credit companies.

        But just because one can, does not mean that one should.

        --
        Yes I Have No Bananas. [gofundme.com]
        • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 10 2015, @03:04PM

          by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 10 2015, @03:04PM (#181090)

          I'd scan plates at the local motels that charge by the hour. Much bigger potential for profit there.

          • (Score: 2) by MichaelDavidCrawford on Sunday May 10 2015, @04:47PM

            there's a lot of big businesses around here - Intel, Mentor Graphics, Nike.

            I'd scout around for the kinds of parking lots where one might find maseratis or ferraris.

            --
            Yes I Have No Bananas. [gofundme.com]
            • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 10 2015, @07:27PM

              by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 10 2015, @07:27PM (#181140)

              People with money are much less likely to default on their loans or payment plans. Heck, most wealthy people will just buy these cars outright, few would bother to finance such petty items. My boss at this one place I work even bought some nice apartment complexes outright.

              • (Score: 2) by MichaelDavidCrawford on Tuesday May 12 2015, @03:10AM

                A close friend scored $1.5M when he sold his dot-com to a competitor.

                You know what he did with all that cash?

                He took out a whole bunch of loans.

                FACEPALM.

                He lost everything in the dot-com crash. I asked him one day why his website said his new company had some open positions. He replied that doing so led his creditors to believe he was solvent.

                --
                Yes I Have No Bananas. [gofundme.com]
      • (Score: 1, Informative) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 10 2015, @03:00PM

        by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 10 2015, @03:00PM (#181089)

        >I bet they end up trying to track Every Financed Vehicle for the term of the loan.

        You are not thinking big enough. They want to track every vehicle.

        Forbes ran a story [forbes.com] a couple of years ago about how one network of repo-scanners are selling tracking data for every plate they have ever scanned.

        The price to lookup a plate? Just $10.

    • (Score: 2) by takyon on Sunday May 10 2015, @05:23AM

      by takyon (881) <reversethis-{gro ... s} {ta} {noykat}> on Sunday May 10 2015, @05:23AM (#181000) Journal

      If this is true, odds are the app (a version specifically for repo purposes) has been made multiple times since then.

      https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.itzkow.licenceplatereader&hl=en [google.com]
      http://www.computerworld.com/article/2490298/web-apps/gm-app-lets-you-scan-a-license-plate--then-text-the-driver.html [computerworld.com]
      http://www.popsci.com/cars/article/2010-09/social-networking-site-uses-license-plates-connect-drivers [popsci.com]

      http://vigilantsolutions.com/about/vigilant-faq [vigilantsolutions.com]

      Where does this private data come from?

      The private data that is shared with Vigilant Solutions’ hosted solution comes from a number of sources. The largest source of data is from Digital Recognition Network (DRN), a partner company to Vigilant.

      An industry pioneer in vehicle asset location technology and services for the financial and insurance markets, DRN fuels a national network of more than 550 Affiliates employing Vigilant’s mobile LPR to gather data for its clients. DRN shares this data over to Vigilant’s law enforcement data center via a one-way communication (i.e. no information from the law enforcement data center ever goes back to DRN). Because this technology is used in every major metropolitan area in the United States, DRN captures data on around 100 million vehicles each month. This data is shared to Vigilant’s National Vehicle Location Service for use by law enforcement.

      Some of these private companies collecting 100s of millions of plates are definitely selling out to more than just law enforcement agencies.

      --
      [SIG] 10/28/2017: Soylent Upgrade v14 [soylentnews.org]
      • (Score: 2) by MichaelDavidCrawford on Sunday May 10 2015, @02:18PM

        many people don't drive cars at all.

        So on the average, every one or two months, some complete stranger would know where your car has been. If you live in a densely populated area, quite likely they'd know where your car has been every single day.

        Among the reasons I won't ever use Uber is that they bragged about tracking "Rides of Glory", in which the passenger arrived at a particular address Friday or Saturday night, then departed from that same address Saturday or Sunday morning.

        I like to drive, I really do. It is quite upsetting to me, that I choose not to buy a car - maybe a motorcycle - as I've been planning for the last little while.

        Maybe it would be OK were I only to drive it in the remote wilderness.

        Maybe I'll buy a car in Mexico, then drive it around in the US. There is some time limit that one can do something like that; when the deadline approaches, I'd drive it back to Mexico then purchase another car.

        --
        Yes I Have No Bananas. [gofundme.com]
  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 10 2015, @04:11AM

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 10 2015, @04:11AM (#180972)

    Debt collectors calling means someone cares that you're alive! If you weren't in debt, you could drop dead and no one would even notice. You ever tried getting a job if you're not in debt? Why, you don't deserve to have a job, because you don't have any debt to pay. You ever tried keeping your job after you pay off your debt? Stop being so selfish, someone with debt deserves to take your job. Debt is the stuff that binds society together. People are so much more friendly and subservient when everybody owes everybody some money.

    • (Score: 3, Interesting) by MichaelDavidCrawford on Sunday May 10 2015, @04:24AM

      In his book "Games People Play", he points out that we celebrate when someone obtains a home mortgage, but not when they pay it off.

      --
      Yes I Have No Bananas. [gofundme.com]
      • (Score: 2) by frojack on Sunday May 10 2015, @04:35AM

        by frojack (1554) Subscriber Badge on Sunday May 10 2015, @04:35AM (#180987) Journal

        Huh?

        I've been to many Paid Off Parties. Everybody there was over 50 it seems.

        --
        No, you are mistaken. I've always had this sig.
      • (Score: 2) by Tork on Sunday May 10 2015, @04:40AM

        by Tork (3914) on Sunday May 10 2015, @04:40AM (#180989)

        In his book "Games People Play", he points out that we celebrate when someone obtains a home mortgage, but not when they pay it off.

        Huh. Every time I've celebrated it's that somebody obtained the property they wanted, not accumulated the debt. That's a bit like saying we celebrate birthdays because we're happy that person is that much closer to death.

        --
        Slashdolt Logic: "24 year old jokes about sharks and lasers are +5, Funny." 💩
      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 10 2015, @04:55AM

        by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 10 2015, @04:55AM (#180991)

        In Arthur Miller's play "Death of a Salesman", Willy Loman celebrates his paid-off mortgage by killing himself.

        • (Score: 1, Funny) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 10 2015, @12:13PM

          by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 10 2015, @12:13PM (#181069)

          Way to go, asshole. You've spoiled a play for me that I had no intention of actually ever seeing, since I really don't give a fuck about plays and find them goddamn boring.

    • (Score: 1) by anubi on Sunday May 10 2015, @04:37AM

      by anubi (2828) on Sunday May 10 2015, @04:37AM (#180988) Journal

      You have hit on what I believe is the primary driver for all this governmental snooping.

      All this data collection on who is where at any given time can be very expensive to acquire.

      Congressmen are much cheaper.

      So, get Congress - funded by the American people - to track everyone in the name of national security, but the real reason in doing it is we have become a nation of debtors.

      Also, deadbeat dads will have a much harder time shucking marital responsibilities.

      --
      "Prove all things; hold fast that which is good." [KJV: I Thessalonians 5:21]
      • (Score: 4, Interesting) by captain normal on Sunday May 10 2015, @05:19AM

        by captain normal (2205) on Sunday May 10 2015, @05:19AM (#180997)

        You almost have a good idea there. To me, we should be tracking the congress critters. See where they hang out and who they hang out with.

        --
        “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” Thomas Edison
        • (Score: 3, Insightful) by rts008 on Sunday May 10 2015, @12:50PM

          by rts008 (3001) on Sunday May 10 2015, @12:50PM (#181073)

          To me, we should be tracking the congress critters. See where they hang out and who they hang out with.

          Your appetite and 'hope' would die a horrid death being witness to that much depravity, soul-blackening stench of evil, and slimy filth.

          I would strongly suggest intial trials with lawyers and telemarketers as trackers at first. No, scratch that, it would be impossible to measure any changes in their EvilMeter readings. :-(

    • (Score: 5, Interesting) by Nuke on Sunday May 10 2015, @10:04AM

      by Nuke (3162) on Sunday May 10 2015, @10:04AM (#181047)
      AC wrote :- "

      You ever tried getting a job if you're not in debt? Why, you don't deserve to have a job, because you don't have any debt to pay. ...... Debt is the stuff that binds society together.

      Don't know why this was modded down; while tongue-in-cheek, there is a lot of truth in it. Years ago having a debt was something to be ashamed of, these days not having debts makes others suspicious. I bought a car recently and could afford to pay rather than get "finance". The car salesman looked at me as if I must have stolen it, and still banged on about I should apply for "finance".

      I recently tried to open a savings account, offered by the UK Post Office, with a large sum (like $100k in US money). They promptly demanded proof of identity - to take driving licence and a utility bill into a post office, which I did But they still rejected my application, setting up even more hurdles. BTW, I have always been a UK citizen and resident, and with a clean record. I failed these further hurdles apparently because I had put a road name on the application which did not appear on the utility bill. Fact is the road I live on has no name, it is in the sticks, but their form had insisted on one so I gave its government designation number. There is no doubt that not having debts means that you are regarded as untrustworthy.

      There is no doubt that not having debts means that you are regarded as untrustworthy.

      • (Score: 4, Informative) by kaszz on Sunday May 10 2015, @11:28AM

        by kaszz (4211) on Sunday May 10 2015, @11:28AM (#181054) Journal

        Not having debt means they have less control over your life.

      • (Score: 1, Informative) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 10 2015, @03:04PM

        by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 10 2015, @03:04PM (#181091)

        I bought a car recently and could afford to pay rather than get "finance". The car salesman looked at me as if I must have stolen it, and still banged on about I should apply for "finance".

        You misunderstood what was going on there. He gets a commission on the sale of the loan in addition to the sale of the car. All he cared about was the money.

      • (Score: 3, Interesting) by Arik on Monday May 11 2015, @10:10AM

        by Arik (4543) on Monday May 11 2015, @10:10AM (#181421) Journal
        Too true.

        I was told as a child 'do not a borrower or a lender be' and I've mostly lived by that rule.

        Now I move to a new city and need to find a place to rent, and I get rejected for 'no credit.'

        Not bad credit. No negative information. I simply don't have any credit history because I do not take loans.

        The rental agents heads explode at the thought. Not one of them even bothered to call my previous landlords before rejecting me.

        It's merely a symptom of the deeper problem though. The US is in love with credit, in love with selling tomorrows bread to buy sweets today. We're a rotten society, corrupt, deep in debt, and no longer even trying to save ourselves. Instead we congratulate ourselves on our errors, we work hard to convince ourselves that we are doing right and good, even knowing in our guts it's nonsense. Someone with no credit history is too much opportunity for cognitive dissonance and must be shunned, consigned to the gutter, hopefully destroyed outright and quickly!

        After all, if I can pay my bills and live without the things I cannot afford, why cant you? Not a thought most people can face.
        --
        If laughter is the best medicine, who are the best doctors?
      • (Score: 2) by Kromagv0 on Monday May 11 2015, @01:24PM

        by Kromagv0 (1825) on Monday May 11 2015, @01:24PM (#181455) Homepage

        Your experience with car buying sounds similar to when I last bought one. While I had the money available financial institutions move a a glacial pace for getting me my own money. So I took out a loan for the car as the vehicle I was driving (my beater Jeep) got such crappy gas mileage that it was cheaper to pay the interest for a bit than continue to drive my jeep every day. Then 4 days after getting my current car I went to pay off the loan and talk about a pain in the ass. I had the loan document from the dealer but things weren't completely in their system yet so I couldn't just pay the thing online. I ended up on the phone with them for a couple of hours trying to pay the damn thing off and even then they tried to talk me out of paying the damn thing off as I had a really good rate. The interest ended up being just a few dollars (I think it was like $8) yet I saved about $30 in gas over those 4 days.

        --
        T-Shirts and bumper stickers [zazzle.com] to offend someone
      • (Score: 2) by Common Joe on Tuesday May 12 2015, @03:02AM

        by Common Joe (33) Subscriber Badge <{common.joe.0101} {at} {gmail.com}> on Tuesday May 12 2015, @03:02AM (#181765) Journal

        There is no doubt that not having debts means that you are regarded as untrustworthy.

        Although unfortunate, the conclusion is obvious: Get a credit card, small loan, anything and pay it back with the absolute minimum. Keep the value small so you aren't getting fleeced too badly.

        With that said, your credit score will still suffer as the amount of the debt (too little or too much) can make for a credit score that isn't great. (But I've also seen first hand how they will purposely force a lower score on you when trying to get a house loan.)

        And finally, when my wife came to the U.S. to live, we had problems getting her a credit card. The company where I had my credit card declined her for having no U.S. credit history. (Nevermind her good European credit history.) We walked into our bank and spoke to someone higher up and said, "we want a credit card". Because we had money in the bank -- an amount they respected -- the guy said no problem. By the time we moved to Europe, she had a higher credit limit than me. (Still trying to figure that one out.)

        All sucky solutions, but if you have the money, tossing a few bread crumbs to make "them" think you're one of the sheep can help you play the game.

    • (Score: 2) by rts008 on Sunday May 10 2015, @02:18PM

      by rts008 (3001) on Sunday May 10 2015, @02:18PM (#181083)

      Fuck you and the three-legged mule you rode in on.

      If the debt collector calls were for me instead of some joker that had this phone number 20+ years ago(and I guess still giving it out as their own), maybe I could see your point.
      I'm still getting calls for them after me having this number since 1994. I get 2-3 calls every week, in spite of me telling them this.

      As it is, both you and those scum-sucking parasites can take a jump off a skyscraper to improve the world.

  • (Score: 2) by kaszz on Sunday May 10 2015, @11:30AM

    by kaszz (4211) on Sunday May 10 2015, @11:30AM (#181055) Journal

    Is there any law that says you have to display the license plate when the vehicle is stationary?

    • (Score: 3, Insightful) by Bill Dimm on Sunday May 10 2015, @01:28PM

      by Bill Dimm (940) on Sunday May 10 2015, @01:28PM (#181076)

      I don't know, but I would guess that there is. Otherwise, how would they give you a parking ticket?

    • (Score: 3, Interesting) by rts008 on Sunday May 10 2015, @02:49PM

      by rts008 (3001) on Sunday May 10 2015, @02:49PM (#181087)

      You would have to check the traffic laws/regulations in your state.
      As far as I know, in MD, PA, and OK, if the vehicle is operated or parked[1] on 'public' roadways, it needs to correctly display it's icense plate, unless it is exempt from having to have one. ie: farm tractors and such.
      In PA, when the roads were snowed in bad, most everyone left their car/trucks parked, and all you saw travelling were snowmobiles. I do not know if this was actually legal, but the cops were doing the same, and never bothered anyone over it. YMMV.(I never checked on the legality of it. Not having a snowmobile, I would just saddle one of my horses)

      I imagine if you were to remove your plate every time you parked, you would be targeted quick by law enforcement checking to see if your vehicle was stolen, or assume it to be abandoned, and you would probably have to get used to it being towed to impounded frequently. Walmart's(for example) parking lot would most likely be private property and you could safely do so for a short time, but then the owner can call the cops to tow away the 'abandoned/suspicious' vehicle.

      [1] street-side parking, paralell/slant parking, city/gov't.-owned and operated parking garages and lots, etc.

      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 10 2015, @03:16PM

        by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 10 2015, @03:16PM (#181094)

        As far as I know, in MD, PA, and OK, if the vehicle is operated or parked[1] on 'public' roadways, it needs to correctly display it's icense plate,

        That is pretty much the case for all 50 states.

        Walmart's(for example) parking lot would most likely be private property and you could safely do so for a short time, but then the owner can call the cops to tow away the 'abandoned/suspicious' vehicle.

        That is where one of those james-bond plate-flippers comes in. Put a fake plate on there when you are not on public property. Modern license plates are so much easier to forge than they used to be. Many states don't even emboss them anymore.

        Another option would be to put a fake paper temporary license in the window - you could even use your actual information so it would be less fake. All you really need is something to keep the "if you see something, say something" idiots pacified. Combine that with some electrochromic glass [ebay.com] and you would be able to hide your plate from known scanners, like the cameras at every tollbooth, parking garage, etc at the flip of a switch. No fiddling with a screwdriver every time you park.

    • (Score: 2) by Grishnakh on Sunday May 10 2015, @03:30PM

      by Grishnakh (2831) on Sunday May 10 2015, @03:30PM (#181097)

      Depends on where you're parked. If you're parked in your own driveway, definitely not. If you're parked on a public street, most probably yes.

    • (Score: 2) by Justin Case on Sunday May 10 2015, @03:53PM

      by Justin Case (4239) on Sunday May 10 2015, @03:53PM (#181098) Journal

      I have purchased several car covers to protect against bird droppings and other outdoor annoyances. Every cover had a hole to expose the license plate. On inquiry I was told it is not legal to hide the plate even when the car is parked.

      Anyway, if it were allowed to cover it, there would be a law requiring you to cover it when parked. Right? Anything not required is forbidden?

      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 10 2015, @04:47PM

        by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 10 2015, @04:47PM (#181111)

        That is something you should look up. I have found with road rules there is what is 'common knowledge' and the real rules.

        For example in my state (have not checked to see if they fixed it) you only had to have 1 tail light working. But it was common knowledge you had to have both working. Yet the law stated 1 working lamp.

        For another example is right on red. That varies wildly from state to state and city to city. With some states treating it as a yield, to must stop then turn if clear, all the way to can not do it at all.

        • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 10 2015, @08:21PM

          by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 10 2015, @08:21PM (#181156)

          Having just one light working carries the risk of it going out and being in violation of the law. If both work and one goes out that gives you time to notice the problem and fix it before the other goes out.

  • (Score: 2, Interesting) by Spamalope on Sunday May 10 2015, @10:46PM

    by Spamalope (5233) on Sunday May 10 2015, @10:46PM (#181222) Homepage

    I have to assume they have automated plate readers, not humans.
     
    How about refrigerator magnet temporary signs that have under/over sized rectangles in the license plate font with text in the right place. Not an actual plate. An art car with politicians plate numbers air brushed all over the car would be funny.
     
    What about one of the corrugated cheap signs people use to advertise yard sales, but with a few faux plates on it. The spying bastards would get extra plate reads until you moved this sign to the next reader. If we're going to poison the well we might as well try and make them pay a developer to troubleshoot the 'fake' plate reads.
     
    If you could crowd source locating the plate readers, election season could be more fun. Use the faux plates near strip clubs, hot sheet motels or anywhere else that would imply something embarrassing. 'buy' the plate read data for the plate, then report the information with fake outrage. Phrase everything as 'according to this report' to remain technically truthful at all times. No?