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posted by takyon on Saturday May 16 2015, @05:12AM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the MichaelDavidCrawfordNews dept.

Claiming it's because there's no poles to mount them on, the City of Paradise Valley, Arizona began installing license plate readers inside towering, fake cacti:

LPRs are normally mounted on light poles and traffic lights to scan for stolen cars or vehicles involved in an Amber Alert, but cities and counties have been stashing them in dozens of different covert locations, from car's fog lamps to retrofitted ladders. And in Arizona, it's not uncommon to see antennas camouflaged as a cactus, so the decision – at least from an aesthetic point-of-view – makes sense.

[...] [Town manager Kevin] Burke said the cameras are not being put in fake cactus to be secretive, but because there are no light poles in the area to put them on. He says they're trying to make the cameras aesthetically pleasing. It's all part of a $2 million police technology upgrade the council passed last year.

Is it safe to say the cameras are operated by a bunch of pricks?

Related Stories

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


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  • (Score: 1, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday May 16 2015, @05:22AM

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday May 16 2015, @05:22AM (#183658)

    Violent revolution.

    Do or dare.

  • (Score: 3, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday May 16 2015, @05:24AM

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday May 16 2015, @05:24AM (#183660)

    License plate readers simply should not be allowed. It's important to differentiate between someone spotting you (people have faulty memories and don't care much about strangers) or some random person recording you by chance (it doesn't all go to a central source like the government for a specific purpose and will likely not identify you anyway) and the government putting surveillance devices everywhere in public places. Employing individuals to do the spying would be far more costly, would result in many inaccuracies, would cover less ground, and would take more time. They're simply not comparable situations, and yet people try to compare them all the time.

    There is some degree of privacy even in public places, and we should have privacy from mass surveillance.

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday May 16 2015, @05:28PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Saturday May 16 2015, @05:28PM (#183787)

      > the government putting surveillance devices everywhere in public places.

      I think we might get more traction if we called it was it really is: stalking. If there was a person following you around in public recording your movements and your purchases, etc, you would have a case for getting a restraining order on them. Just because its automated doesn't make it less stalkery and threatening.

      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday May 16 2015, @06:43PM

        by Anonymous Coward on Saturday May 16 2015, @06:43PM (#183799)

        I've seen idiots argue that violating people's privacy is fine as long as it isn't a person doing it. They were talking about the NSA's mass surveillance and tried to use that angle to argue that it wasn't spying at all.

        • (Score: 2) by davester666 on Sunday May 17 2015, @06:05AM

          by davester666 (155) on Sunday May 17 2015, @06:05AM (#183972)

          That's the NSA's position anyway. It only becomes a 'search' for a human to view the data.

          • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 17 2015, @02:40PM

            by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 17 2015, @02:40PM (#184047)

            I'll just program a robot to go around killing people randomly. It isn't a person doing it so it's fine.

  • (Score: 2, Informative) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday May 16 2015, @05:26AM

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday May 16 2015, @05:26AM (#183661)

    In America, "prick" is slang for "penis". It's also slang for somebody who is a jerk. Cacti also have prickly spines on them.

    So one can say, "Ethanol-fueled has a prick that's too big for the Internet.", referring to his penis.

    One can also say, "Ethanol-fueled is sometimes a prick to social justice warriors.", referring to his attitude and behavior.

    Finally, one can also say, "Ethanol-fueled's pet cactus is big, thick, juicy and covered with pricks.", referring to his plant.

    • (Score: 2) by MichaelDavidCrawford on Saturday May 16 2015, @09:16AM

      by MichaelDavidCrawford (2339) Subscriber Badge <mdcrawford@gmail.com> on Saturday May 16 2015, @09:16AM (#183702) Homepage Journal

      I like them.

      --
      Yes I Have No Bananas. [gofundme.com]
    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday May 16 2015, @04:44PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Saturday May 16 2015, @04:44PM (#183782)

      I would add that some kinds of cactus are colloquially called "dildo cacti."

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 17 2015, @06:28PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 17 2015, @06:28PM (#184129)

      How about, "That prick, Ethanol-Fueled, has a small prick, so he makes up for it by pricking people's PC sensitivities."

  • (Score: 2) by MichaelDavidCrawford on Saturday May 16 2015, @05:36AM

    by MichaelDavidCrawford (2339) Subscriber Badge <mdcrawford@gmail.com> on Saturday May 16 2015, @05:36AM (#183664) Homepage Journal

    ... nor a car.

    At least bicycles aren't required to have license plates.

    --
    Yes I Have No Bananas. [gofundme.com]
    • (Score: 2, Insightful) by redneckmother on Saturday May 16 2015, @05:44AM

      by redneckmother (3597) on Saturday May 16 2015, @05:44AM (#183668)

      At least bicycles aren't required to have license plates.

      "Yet."

      --
      Mas cerveza por favor.
    • (Score: 1, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday May 16 2015, @05:30PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Saturday May 16 2015, @05:30PM (#183788)

      > This is why I don't drive a motorcycle ... nor a car.

      Oh really?

      The man who uses his fullname on every post and for months insisted on also including his social security number chooses not to own a car or motorbike because he does not want to be tracked.

      You are so full of shit.

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday May 16 2015, @05:44PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Saturday May 16 2015, @05:44PM (#183789)

      The largest city in Orange County, CA requires bicycles to be registered.
      The hours you can do that are NORMAL PEOPLE'S WORKING HOURS. [googleusercontent.com] (orig) [newsantaana.com]

      -- gewg_

  • (Score: 2) by frojack on Saturday May 16 2015, @05:43AM

    by frojack (1554) Subscriber Badge on Saturday May 16 2015, @05:43AM (#183666) Journal

    Phoenix, and surrounding cities [ecofriend.com] seem to have a habit of disguising cell towers and such.

    I guess the disguise worked well in this case. After all, the discussion isn't about WHY they need plate readers at all, but rather the whole discussion is sidetracked about why did they hide them.

    --
    No, you are mistaken. I've always had this sig.
  • (Score: 5, Interesting) by GungnirSniper on Saturday May 16 2015, @06:21AM

    by GungnirSniper (1671) on Saturday May 16 2015, @06:21AM (#183673) Journal

    New Hampshire is the only state with a ban on law enforcement use of these automagic readers. [eff.org]

    The excuses of stolen cars or vehicles involved in an Amber Alert is to distract from the revenue-generating use of these foul contraptions. The databases used have everything: late inspection stickers, expired or suspended license of the owner, warrants, and a bunch of other revenue gotchas. Any thief worth his salt is going to swap plates, preferably from a matching vehicle. I doubt the technology is there yet to match color and make/model. Just wait until these things are used to permanently harass DUI offenders, recreational drug users, probation and restraining order types, etc.

    • (Score: 1) by Spamalope on Saturday May 16 2015, @01:36PM

      by Spamalope (5233) on Saturday May 16 2015, @01:36PM (#183751) Homepage

      Just wait until these things are used to permanently harass DUI offenders, recreational drug users, probation and restraining order types, etc.

      They'll combine this with the new instant reporting banks do of any cash withdrawal of significance. Then using this tech, and taps in cells phones and car infotainment systems (Onstar is a tracking system foremost) they'll pull over the car and seize the cash using asset forfeiture laws. That's already been done with casino winners big enough that there winnings are required to be reported for tax purposes.
       
      I'm afraid they'll target the pinball collector community I belong to. That's all on a cash an carry basis, and the desirable pins aren't cheap.

  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday May 16 2015, @07:38AM

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday May 16 2015, @07:38AM (#183682)

    Smash them all, every one. To hell with biodiversity. Kill every cactus.

  • (Score: 2) by MichaelDavidCrawford on Saturday May 16 2015, @08:31AM

    by MichaelDavidCrawford (2339) Subscriber Badge <mdcrawford@gmail.com> on Saturday May 16 2015, @08:31AM (#183691) Homepage Journal

    Fake Cacti should be easy to spot; if you're in doubt, poke it with a pencil.

    --
    Yes I Have No Bananas. [gofundme.com]
  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday May 16 2015, @08:37AM

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday May 16 2015, @08:37AM (#183692)

    No law against shooting cacti, is there? Just be sure to use FMJ, to minimize damage to legitimate cacti.

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday May 16 2015, @08:52AM

      by Anonymous Coward on Saturday May 16 2015, @08:52AM (#183695)

      Reckless discharge of a firearm. Your stray bullets could hit children. Won't you think of the children.

      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday May 16 2015, @10:13AM

        by Anonymous Coward on Saturday May 16 2015, @10:13AM (#183713)

        But it's Arizona! Them's anchor children! Or if not, ones not being edjucated proper anyhoo. Didn't you seen the movie, "Raising Arizona"? Never leave a man behind.

    • (Score: 2) by deimtee on Saturday May 16 2015, @10:52AM

      by deimtee (3272) on Saturday May 16 2015, @10:52AM (#183718) Journal

      Shooting would leave ugly holes in them. You don't want them to look ugly do you?
      What you need is some cactus colored spray paint so you can go around and make sure they are all nice and evenly coated.

      --
      No problem is insoluble, but at Ksp = 2.943×10−25 Mercury Sulphide comes close.
      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday May 16 2015, @06:05PM

        by Anonymous Coward on Saturday May 16 2015, @06:05PM (#183791)

        My spray-paint idea was to alert others to the ruse by painting letters on the fakes
        ^
        |
        |
        C
        A
        M
        E
        R
        A
        such that the tip of the arrow is painted over the lens.

        -- gewg_

      • (Score: 2) by deimtee on Sunday May 17 2015, @11:37AM

        by deimtee (3272) on Sunday May 17 2015, @11:37AM (#184015) Journal

        Further thought: Bonus points if you do such a good job on the paint they lose track of it amongst the real cacti.

        --
        No problem is insoluble, but at Ksp = 2.943×10−25 Mercury Sulphide comes close.
    • (Score: 2) by hemocyanin on Saturday May 16 2015, @11:43AM

      by hemocyanin (186) on Saturday May 16 2015, @11:43AM (#183727) Journal

      Jeez, for a geek site that's a really lame idea. I would think a HERF gun or EMP cannon would be much more apropos. Of course, it might raise some suspicion if the last picture on all the dead ALPRs is your license plate (I'm assuming the camera uploads remotely and the range of the camera exceeds the effective range of your beam/pulse).

      • (Score: 4, Interesting) by Phoenix666 on Saturday May 16 2015, @01:43PM

        by Phoenix666 (552) on Saturday May 16 2015, @01:43PM (#183753) Journal

        I've been using Waze to commute from Brooklyn to Long Island lately and it's a pretty good app and use of crowdsourcing. It even tells me when there are potholes, red light cameras, cars left on the shoulder, and cops. If license plate scanners are included then you could set your EMP gun to nerf the scanner before it scans you.

        Ever since the flashmob phenomenon arrived on the scene a decade and a half ago I've thought that crowdsourcing technology was going to play a significant role in the next revolution.

        --
        Washington DC delenda est.
        • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday May 16 2015, @11:58PM

          by Anonymous Coward on Saturday May 16 2015, @11:58PM (#183871)

          Modern civilization is too comfortable for revolution. As long as there is a middle class, that will remain true.

          Unless living standards fail the flashmob is for doing the Thriller dance.

          • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 17 2015, @06:32PM

            by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 17 2015, @06:32PM (#184131)

            As long as there is a middle class, that will remain true.

            There hasn't been a middle class for a while, and a large portion of the former-middle class are still supporting the policies that dismantled it in the first place, dreaming that one day maybe they'll be part of the 1% (and somehow missing that the policies they support are the reason they never will be).

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday May 16 2015, @02:11PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Saturday May 16 2015, @02:11PM (#183762)

      If it is a Saguaro, in Arizona oh yes there is a law preventing shooting it.

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Saguaro#Laws [wikipedia.org]