Stories
Slash Boxes
Comments

SoylentNews is people

posted by martyb on Saturday October 22 2016, @11:04PM   Printer-friendly [Skip to comment(s)]
from the convenience-vs.-privacy dept.

A drive-through for your groceries: According to a report from The Wall Street Journal, that's one of Amazon's many ambitions for the next version of its grocery-delivery service, Fresh. The company will set up a series of "convenience stores," the Journal reports, where it will sell basic goods like milk, produce, and meat.

Some locations will also allow people to pick up orders they placed online. Here's how the Journal described that feature:

For customers seeking a quicker checkout, Amazon will soon begin rolling out designated drive-in locations where online grocery orders will be brought to the car, the people said. The company is developing license-plate reading technology to speed wait times.

That detail about the license-plate readers caught my attention. Scanning the license plates of incoming cars makes sense: If your plate is connected to your Amazon account, the system could alert employees working in the store that you've arrived to pick up your grocery order before you even have a chance to park. If someone met you at the curb with your order in hand, you could be in and out of the lot in less than a minute.

But that's not the only reason implementing a license-plate system would be a smart move for Amazon. If the company can convince you to tell it which car is yours, it could link your license plate number to your Amazon account. Then, if it bought data from another company that shows where else your car has traveled, it could potentially use that information to develop an even more complete picture of your habits, preferences, and personality.

http://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2016/10/amazon-wants-to-scan-your-license-plate/503747/

My state has a variety of specialty license places available for an extra ~$35 year, one of them has black text on a dark purple background. I picked that plate in order to reduce the accuracy of scanners trying to read my license plate. What other methods have people come up with?


Original Submission

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


Original Submission

This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.
Display Options Threshold/Breakthrough Mark All as Read Mark All as Unread
The Fine Print: The following comments are owned by whoever posted them. We are not responsible for them in any way.
  • (Score: 2) by Rosco P. Coltrane on Saturday October 22 2016, @11:43PM

    by Rosco P. Coltrane (4757) on Saturday October 22 2016, @11:43PM (#417692)

    Smart people don't give unaccountable big data companies anymore personal data than strictly necessary. Amazon will *never* know my license plate numbers, nor the type of car I have.

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Saturday October 22 2016, @11:47PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Saturday October 22 2016, @11:47PM (#417693)

      voting with your feet.

      Specifically voting with your feet to countries which are hostile to Amazon or general public surveillance.

      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday October 23 2016, @12:02AM

        by Anonymous Coward on Sunday October 23 2016, @12:02AM (#417695)

        Which countries outlaw and actually stop both government and private massive surveillance?

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday October 23 2016, @12:27AM

      by Anonymous Coward on Sunday October 23 2016, @12:27AM (#417698)

      > Amazon will *never* know my license plate numbers, nor the type of car I have.

      Are you sure about that?
      Vehicle registration records are public info in most states.
      Even if the plate number isn't public, the vin (and thus make/model) and your name and address are.

      • (Score: 2) by edIII on Sunday October 23 2016, @06:01AM

        by edIII (791) on Sunday October 23 2016, @06:01AM (#417768)

        Which state? That doesn't sound right. Specifically, the address part. I know you can look up such things to find proof of insurance, but you generally need to supply some information first.... like the VIN. I dunno about you, but I can't read somebody's VIN while they're driving.

        If you're correct, than anybody can find the owner of any car just from their license plate. If that were true, I think the homicide rates in America would triple. People can't find out where you live from your license plates.

        --
        Technically, lunchtime is at any moment. It's just a wave function.
    • (Score: 1) by Francis on Sunday October 23 2016, @01:01AM

      by Francis (5544) on Sunday October 23 2016, @01:01AM (#417703)

      Indeed, to the extent possible that's a sound policy.

      They could achieve the same thing using NFC or similar to transmit the account and ordering information that they already know and just double check when you get to the actual window.

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday October 23 2016, @01:28AM

      by Anonymous Coward on Sunday October 23 2016, @01:28AM (#417706)

      A *large* fortune 500 company I used to work for wanted to do this mass scrapping of license plates. I steered the project to an IoT thing. I could do more damage that way. :)

      I pointed the project in a new direction once it became clear any sort of system like this would be wildly abused.

  • (Score: 2, Interesting) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday October 23 2016, @12:15AM

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday October 23 2016, @12:15AM (#417697)

    Some idiot in a black Range Rover in San Diego has a custom plate with only Zs and 2s. Something like ZZ2Z22Z. You couldn't distinguish the letters from the numbers from further than about 20 feet. The only reason I remember this was when I tried to call the cops on him because he was literally running people off the road, probably drunk or high.

    • (Score: 2, Insightful) by WolvesOfTheNight on Sunday October 23 2016, @01:35AM

      by WolvesOfTheNight (4704) on Sunday October 23 2016, @01:35AM (#417708)
    • (Score: 1) by Francis on Sunday October 23 2016, @01:37AM

      by Francis (5544) on Sunday October 23 2016, @01:37AM (#417709)

      Sounds like you don't know what an idiot is.

      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday October 23 2016, @01:51AM

        by Anonymous Coward on Sunday October 23 2016, @01:51AM (#417712)

        When you swerve across three lanes making other drivers lock up the brakes and/or drive off the freeway... I'd say you're an idiot driver trying to avoid getting arrested using a trick license plate.

        • (Score: 1) by Ethanol-fueled on Sunday October 23 2016, @02:55AM

          by Ethanol-fueled (2792) on Sunday October 23 2016, @02:55AM (#417717) Homepage

          Well, it'll catch up to them sooner or later...Range Rovers are pieces of shit, you can kick the bumpers right off of them. That guy may try that move again, but at least he will take himself out with anybody else.

          Probably an Arab. San Diego Arabs are real fuckers.

        • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday October 23 2016, @06:53PM

          by Anonymous Coward on Sunday October 23 2016, @06:53PM (#417923)

          I'm sure there aren't many variants of that plate around. After 2 times of someone reporting someone else with "a plate with just Z's and 2's", it's pretty easy to know that "oh, it's that same idiot again". Having a plate like that makes you stand out more, not less.
          If you want to stand out more, just get a non-vanity plate.

          • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday October 24 2016, @08:13PM

            by Anonymous Coward on Monday October 24 2016, @08:13PM (#418270)

            Human identification isn't the threat scenario here. Its automation. And computers don't generally distinguish between vanity plates and standard-issue plates. But Zs, 7s and 2s are similar enough to introduce errors in the OCR software that parses plate scans.

  • (Score: 3, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday October 23 2016, @12:31AM

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday October 23 2016, @12:31AM (#417699)

    The cops.

    Once the ACLU is successful in blocking the cops from using license plate readers they'll easily buy the data from Amazon.

  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday October 23 2016, @12:51AM

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday October 23 2016, @12:51AM (#417702)
    Must be a lot of fun having that black text on a purple background plate. You could do a hit and run and nobody would be the wiser.
    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday October 23 2016, @01:23AM

      by Anonymous Coward on Sunday October 23 2016, @01:23AM (#417705)

      We don't have license plates so that governments or companies can conduct massive automated surveillance on us, or at least such capabilities didn't exist when license plates started being mandated. If this is the inevitable result of license plates, then fuck license plates. If you're going to force people to have such a thing, then the government and companies should be absolutely forbidden from conducting such surveillance.

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday October 23 2016, @01:29AM

      by Anonymous Coward on Sunday October 23 2016, @01:29AM (#417707)

      Except they would know you have a plate with black text on a purple background and the color of your car if not the make and model. So, that's gonna narrow it down a lot right there.

      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday October 23 2016, @01:37AM

        by Anonymous Coward on Sunday October 23 2016, @01:37AM (#417710)

        Also color is not going to stop the scanner. I worked on a project like this. I would just drop it into 8 different colors and let the alg vote it out.

        What usually messes with a scanner is poor angle or distance to the plate (so low pixel count). Dirt and poor contrast can hurt char recognition. Usually that can be correct by having the DMV pick a slightly different font. They are totally willing to do it too. No real biggie for them and they get lots of information.

        • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday October 23 2016, @03:37AM

          by Anonymous Coward on Sunday October 23 2016, @03:37AM (#417734)

          Black text on purple equals low contrast.

          • (Score: 2) by deimtee on Sunday October 23 2016, @09:43AM

            by deimtee (3272) on Sunday October 23 2016, @09:43AM (#417797) Journal

            I would like to place money on that purple being very bright in near-infrared.

            --
            No problem is insoluble, but at Ksp = 2.943×10−25 Mercury Sulphide comes close.
            • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday October 23 2016, @06:34PM

              by Anonymous Coward on Sunday October 23 2016, @06:34PM (#417914)

              Easy enough to test with a camera phone and a black-and-white photoshop filter since most camera phones see infra-red too.

          • (Score: 1, Informative) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday October 23 2016, @09:58AM

            by Anonymous Coward on Sunday October 23 2016, @09:58AM (#417802)

            Black text on purple equals low contrast to human eyes.

            FTFY

  • (Score: 2, Funny) by marknmel on Sunday October 23 2016, @02:00AM

    by marknmel (1243) on Sunday October 23 2016, @02:00AM (#417713) Homepage

    I find this licence plate amusing...

    https://jeffkemponoracle.files.wordpress.com/2010/03/ku-xlarge.jpg?w=1108 [wordpress.com]

    --
    There is nothing that can't be solved with one more layer of indirection.
    • (Score: 2) by Reziac on Sunday October 23 2016, @06:06AM

      by Reziac (2489) on Sunday October 23 2016, @06:06AM (#417771) Homepage

      Hmm. Ya know, if they scan and compare to a comma-delimited database....

  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday October 23 2016, @03:31AM

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday October 23 2016, @03:31AM (#417732)

    ...Amazon will be selling guns?

  • (Score: 2) by Spamalope on Sunday October 23 2016, @12:25PM

    by Spamalope (5233) on Sunday October 23 2016, @12:25PM (#417817) Homepage

    The obvious non-orwellian but still bastard thing they'd want to do is find the home address for anyone ordering from work using a shipping address at work. They'll be able to price discriminate once they know who lives in an expensive area.

  • (Score: 1, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday October 23 2016, @06:51PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday October 23 2016, @06:51PM (#417922)

    one of them has black text on a dark purple background. I picked that plate in order to reduce the accuracy of scanners trying to read my license plate.

    If you think they will hand out plates that can't be read by scanners, I've got a bridge for sale.
    We're talking revenue on toll roads, ANPR scanners on police cars etc...

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday October 24 2016, @11:37AM

      by Anonymous Coward on Monday October 24 2016, @11:37AM (#418106)

      In America, the land of the free and the home of the brave, we would never put up with automated number plate recognition (but if they read our license plates that's okay).

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday October 24 2016, @08:16PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Monday October 24 2016, @08:16PM (#418273)

      > If you think they will hand out plates that can't be read by scanners, I've got a bridge for sale.

      I think you overestimate the competence of the DMV. I'm sure that some states are on top of that, but bureaucracy exists everywhere and lots of states haven't connected all the dots yet. Some states still don't even require a plate on the front of the vehicle.