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posted by Fnord666 on Sunday May 20 2018, @03:33AM   Printer-friendly
from the one-small-step-for-big-brother dept.

Submitted via IRC for SoyCow3941

On Tuesday, one of the largest LPR manufacturers, ELSAG, announced a major upgrade to "allow investigators to search by color, seven body types, 34 makes, and nine visual descriptors in addition to the standard plate number, location, and time."

Such a vast expansion of the tech now means that evading such scans will be even more difficult.

For years, Ars has been reporting on automated license plate readers (ALPRs, or simply LPRs)—a specialized camera often mounted on police cars that can scan at speeds of up to 60 plates per second.

Those scans are compared against what law enforcement usually dubs a "hot list" before alerting the officer to the presence of a potentially wanted or stolen vehicle. All scans are typically kept in a police database for weeks, months, or years on end.

These devices are now in common use by cities big and small across the United States, as well as many countries around the globe, including the United Kingdom. Police at the upcoming royal wedding in London will use LPRs to monitor unauthorized vehicles.

Source: https://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/2018/05/forget-scanning-license-plates-cops-will-soon-id-you-via-your-roof-rack/


Original Submission

Related Stories

Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) Board Approves Surveillance Oversight Policy 19 comments

Bay Area transit system approves new surveillance-oversight policy

On Thursday, the Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) Board of Directors voted to approve a new policy that requires that it be notified if the local police department wishes to acquire new surveillance equipment.

BART is one of the largest mass transit agencies in northern California, with a system that stretches from the San Francisco International Airport, through San Francisco itself, across to Oakland, north to Antioch and south to Fremont—adjacent to Silicon Valley. This new policy puts it in line with a number of other regional cities that impose community oversight on the acquisition and use of surveillance technology. It is believed to be one of the first, if not the first, such policies for a transportation agency in the nation.

[...] The new BART policy was approved just one day after the Bay Area News Group reported that BART police had been using license plate readers at the parking garage at MacArthur station in Oakland for several months beginning in January 2017. The data collected was, in turn, shared with a "fusion center" of federal law enforcement data known as the Northern California Regional Intelligence Center.

Somehow, the MacArthur license plate reader (LPR) system was installed months after the Board had voted in 2016 to delay installation of the high-speed scanners until a policy for their use could be drafted.

Related: California Senate Bill Could Thwart Automated License Plate Readers
California Senate Rejects License Plate Privacy Shield Bill
Forget Scanning License Plates; Cops Will Soon ID You Via Your Roof Rack
Los Angeles to Become the First City to Use Body Scanners in Rail Transit Systems
California Officials Admit to Using License Plate Readers to Monitor Welfare Recipients


Original Submission

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  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 20 2018, @03:53AM (7 children)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 20 2018, @03:53AM (#681765)

    Just put a QR code on the plates already. The whole point of license plates is that it's easy to identify vehicles.

    • (Score: -1, Troll) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 20 2018, @04:16AM

      by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 20 2018, @04:16AM (#681771)

      The man was moonscraping the feces when he saw... it. The man moved. The man moved, and it screamed. Its screams continued for hours before the silence came. The woman, having insufficiently appraised the men's rights, collapsed briefly. "Rot! Decay! Decompose!" The man spat out these words, his face wearing the wrathful expression.

      Happily, the man returned to his quarters, leaving the woman to fester in its solitude.

    • (Score: 2, Touché) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 20 2018, @04:22AM (4 children)

      by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 20 2018, @04:22AM (#681773)

      The point of license plates was not to enable the government to conduct mass surveillance on the populace, however, since the technology to do this automatically, accurately, and cheaply did not exist at the time. Mass surveillance of all forms - whether it happens in a public place or not - should be banned; it necessarily threatens democracy and freedom.

      • (Score: 2) by MostCynical on Sunday May 20 2018, @04:28AM (3 children)

        by MostCynical (2589) on Sunday May 20 2018, @04:28AM (#681774) Journal

        But, but, if you have nothing to hide, you have nothing to fear! Right?

        --
        "I guess once you start doubting, there's no end to it." -Batou, Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex
        • (Score: 1, Touché) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 20 2018, @05:08AM (2 children)

          by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 20 2018, @05:08AM (#681781)

          Fine, then I get arrested for "indecent exposure"!

          • (Score: 2) by Gaaark on Sunday May 20 2018, @10:11AM (1 child)

            by Gaaark (41) on Sunday May 20 2018, @10:11AM (#681821) Journal

            First they came for all the people arrested for indecent exposure, but I was well dressed (and white), so I did nothing and watched as they hauled Ethanol away........
            ;)

            --
            --- Please remind me if I haven't been civil to you: I'm channeling MDC. ---Gaaark 2.0 ---
            • (Score: -1, Troll) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 20 2018, @09:11PM

              by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 20 2018, @09:11PM (#681962)

              First they came for all the people arrested for indecent exposure, but I was well dressed (and white), so I did nothing and watched as they hauled Ethanol away........

              I, too, can make statements with irrelevant details:

              First they came for all the people arrested for indecent exposure, but I was well dressed (and had eaten a burrito for lunch), so I did nothing and watched as they hauled Ethanol away........

    • (Score: 1, Interesting) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 20 2018, @05:17AM

      by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 20 2018, @05:17AM (#681784)

      Mexico has had barcodes on their number plates forever. As for going all electronic, human readable plates let witness quote a partial or whole number of a vehicle of interest.

  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 20 2018, @04:28AM (3 children)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 20 2018, @04:28AM (#681775)

    We have a lot of salt on the roads in winter. To the point that most cars turn white unless you find somewhere to wash them off. If color is one of the major features, it's not going to work very well...

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 20 2018, @05:09AM (2 children)

      by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 20 2018, @05:09AM (#681782)

      Its a wonder the cars last more than three years or so in that kind of salt.... kudos to the corrosion engineer.

      • (Score: 3, Interesting) by Runaway1956 on Sunday May 20 2018, @05:33AM (1 child)

        by Runaway1956 (2926) Subscriber Badge on Sunday May 20 2018, @05:33AM (#681789) Journal

        I believe GP exaggerates some. Although, not as much as some might believe. There were several bad winters in Pennsylvania, when I was growing up, when almost all cars were faded out pretty badly. And, in that environment, cars do rust out quickly. You might have a five year old car, that was ready for the junkyard, if you didn't wash frequently during the winter. That was before Zeibart and others came out with fairly reliable undercoating. Auto bodies in good shape, imported from the southern or western states were valuable, with or without a decent engine or transmission. Times change, though. Today, with all the plastic and aluminum used in cars, rust is less of a concern. Winters seem to be milder, requiring less salt. And, the internet provides a cheaper, easier means by which a Pennsylvania car owner can purchase body parts, or even entire bodies to transplant a perfectly good drive train from a worthless body.

        Haven't lived in PA for decades. At a guess, I would say that cars probably reach 7, 8, 9 years before they start falling apart badly. If you live near Lake Erie, with the lake effect snow, it's worse than most of the rest of the state. If you live over by Philadelphia, it's better.

        • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 20 2018, @10:53PM

          by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 20 2018, @10:53PM (#681980)

          The generation of my family before me grew up in snow country but I've rarely been out of The Sun Belt--especially not in winter.

          I checked the assertion with the all-knowing oracle and it showed evidence of some truth. [google.com]
          There's a particularly apt image from quirkcars.com.

          -- OriginalOwner_ [soylentnews.org]

  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 20 2018, @05:20AM (2 children)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 20 2018, @05:20AM (#681785)

    How did a story on identifying cars by their roof racks end up in a discussion of plain old license plate reader usage?

    • (Score: 2) by captain normal on Sunday May 20 2018, @05:50AM (1 child)

      by captain normal (2205) on Sunday May 20 2018, @05:50AM (#681794)

      RTFA!!

      --
      Everyone is entitled to his own opinion, but not to his own facts"- --Daniel Patrick Moynihan--
      • (Score: 1, Funny) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 20 2018, @10:14AM

        by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 20 2018, @10:14AM (#681822)

        I can't! I left my fine article reader (FAR) on my roof rack.

  • (Score: 3, Insightful) by Runaway1956 on Sunday May 20 2018, @05:46AM (4 children)

    by Runaway1956 (2926) Subscriber Badge on Sunday May 20 2018, @05:46AM (#681792) Journal

    It was inevitable, really. We have fairly decent facial recognition. Despite the stories of false positives, that technology has been used to find enough criminals that we will never drop it. Recognizing one face in millions? Easy enough to recognize one model of car, or one color of car, or cars with roof racks. Any distinguishing feature can be scanned for. Maybe John Law is looking for a hit-and-run vehicle, with damage to the front left corner of the vehicle. How hard to tell the scanners to flag any vehicle with damage to the front left corner of the vehicle?

    I have a vinyl sticker on my rear window. There are probably less than 1000 people in the entire country who would want that particular sticker. (There might be tens or hundreds of thousands who would want similar stickers, but not my particular sticker.) I'm more easily identified by that sticker, than any other feature of my vehicle, except, of course, the license plate.

    Removing, swapping, or obstructing the view of my license plate wouldn't do any good at all, with this kind of technology available.

    Sure, I can remove my sticker, easily enough. But, every vehicle has at least a small handful of distinguishing features. With constant surveillance, a centralized authority would know all of the scratches on your vehicle, as time passed. Some woman hit my vehicle with a shopping cart, and left a little scratch that I didn't even notice? The computer recorded that scratch, and it will help the authorities to track me.

    • (Score: 3, Interesting) by takyon on Sunday May 20 2018, @05:59AM (3 children)

      by takyon (881) <reversethis-{gro ... s} {ta} {noykat}> on Sunday May 20 2018, @05:59AM (#681797) Journal

      Removing, swapping, or obstructing the view of my license plate wouldn't do any good at all, with this kind of technology available.

      Remove or obstruct license plate, get flagged for immediate LEO contact. Your route predicted from your current position and orientation, get intercepted within 5 minutes.

      Same thing for swapping your license plate. If the number is bogus or corresponds to a different model/color vehicle, that could be detected.

      --
      [SIG] 10/28/2017: Soylent Upgrade v14 [soylentnews.org]
      • (Score: 2) by Runaway1956 on Sunday May 20 2018, @08:37AM (2 children)

        by Runaway1956 (2926) Subscriber Badge on Sunday May 20 2018, @08:37AM (#681812) Journal

        That's kind of my point - people used to get away with that kind of thing. I knew of one case, two plates came in the mail, on the same day, Dad had Son to put the plates on the two vehicles. They were swapped. The vehicles were driven for months, when one was pulled over for something or other. Only then was the mistake discovered. Today - as you say, it would be flagged quickly. The mixup might last days or weeks, almost certainly not months.

        • (Score: 3, Interesting) by anubi on Sunday May 20 2018, @10:30AM (1 child)

          by anubi (2828) on Sunday May 20 2018, @10:30AM (#681828) Journal

          Remember timely vehicle registration renewals.... I'll betcha your tag will appear in the patrolman's database the day after expiry.

          Its a great way for police departments to get a little extra cash that's not contestable over minutiae... if you are expired - you are expired - simple as that - now pay both renewal and fine.

          But, on the flip side, patrolmen do not even have to look at a hot sheet of stolen cars anywhere in the nation... once your tag number is in their database, or tag and car don't match, the patrolman is given an immediate heads up on it.

          This oughta make cars extremely risky to steal, or involve in the commission of a crime.

          Given all the pros and cons as I see them, I'd say go for it. If you are on the list to get nailed, your pullover will happen sooner or later anyway. This just speeds up the process quite a bit - and makes it more difficult for the people trying to game the system with tag swaps trying to evade the police until they can get your vehicle to the chop shop or out of the country. Not impossible, though. I am sure one could print off bogus plates of a similar vehicle to the one they intend to steal, so for a time, there may be two similar cars using the same tag number - which might not catch for a while.

          --
          "Prove all things; hold fast that which is good." [KJV: I Thessalonians 5:21]
          • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 20 2018, @06:54PM

            by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 20 2018, @06:54PM (#681920)

            Given all the pros and cons as I see them, I'd say go for it.

            So you want our horribly corrupt government to be able to set up another mass surveillance scheme so that they can conduct surveillance on people to an even greater degree than they do now? You must not like whistleblowers, dissidents, journalists, or anyone else who could catch the government's ire that this system can and will be used against.

            If you are on the list to get nailed, your pullover will happen sooner or later anyway.

            I don't see why that means it's legitimate to make the oppression faster, cheaper, and more accurate.

  • (Score: -1, Offtopic) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 20 2018, @07:08AM (7 children)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 20 2018, @07:08AM (#681801)

    Wednesday's story on Slashdot. [slashdot.org] Is the Soylent weekend a dumping ground for things the green site has already run?

    • (Score: 3, Touché) by takyon on Sunday May 20 2018, @07:38AM (1 child)

      by takyon (881) <reversethis-{gro ... s} {ta} {noykat}> on Sunday May 20 2018, @07:38AM (#681803) Journal

      I'll make sure to comment over there whenever we beat them to a story, which we have done plenty of times. Oh wait, that would be just as fucking obnoxious.

      TL;DR: Nobody cares.

      --
      [SIG] 10/28/2017: Soylent Upgrade v14 [soylentnews.org]
      • (Score: 2) by Gaaark on Sunday May 20 2018, @10:18AM

        by Gaaark (41) on Sunday May 20 2018, @10:18AM (#681824) Journal

        There's ANOTHER Royal wedding coming up???

        Ah, yes. Here it is: Edmund Blackadder and the Infanta.........

        XD

        --
        --- Please remind me if I haven't been civil to you: I'm channeling MDC. ---Gaaark 2.0 ---
    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 20 2018, @10:16AM (4 children)

      by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 20 2018, @10:16AM (#681823)

      I have not been to that "green site" since SoylentNews emerged. Fuck beta.

      • (Score: 1) by anubi on Sunday May 20 2018, @10:35AM (3 children)

        by anubi (2828) on Sunday May 20 2018, @10:35AM (#681829) Journal

        Agreed... I care very little if the other site leads or lags us. Some overlap is surely expected.

        If I want the *latest* news, I'll go to Google. But if I want to discuss it, I'll come here.

        If its something I am really interested in and its NOT here, I'll submit it as a story. Maybe this group would like it as well.

        Nothing says it has to be the latest gossip, albeit, in the technical area we are in, if its not new, its probably "mature" and everyone and his brother knows about it.

        --
        "Prove all things; hold fast that which is good." [KJV: I Thessalonians 5:21]
        • (Score: 3, Interesting) by bzipitidoo on Sunday May 20 2018, @12:29PM (2 children)

          by bzipitidoo (4388) on Sunday May 20 2018, @12:29PM (#681840) Journal

          Over 25 years ago, I read about a then new project to use computers and cameras to identify railroad cars by the scratches, dents, and graffiti they collect over time. Seems that was potentially more reliable and less costly than trying to put and maintain numbers on all the cars, which they try to do with paint.

          Railroad companies sure don't go to the expense of putting metal ID plates on all their railroad cars. Raises the question of why we put them on automobiles, and what we could do differently there.

          • (Score: 1, Funny) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 20 2018, @03:41PM

            by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 20 2018, @03:41PM (#681879)

            I can tell you and a computer where train car #TC123456 is but can you tell me where the car with the dent on the left side and the scratch on the right side and the funny looking tag that sort of looks like an elephant on acid is? No, not that one. The one with a longer scratch and more blue in the tag.

          • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 20 2018, @11:01PM

            by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 20 2018, @11:01PM (#681982)

            Going WAY back before that, according to a usually-reliable source, [google.com] railroads were among the earliest entities using barcodes.
            I'm seeing "1970s" twice from 1 source on that page.

            The thing you mentioned might be a useful addendum to that but it seems they already had a pretty reliable thing going for quite some time.

            -- OriginalOwner_ [soylentnews.org]

  • (Score: 1, Funny) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 20 2018, @09:24AM (4 children)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 20 2018, @09:24AM (#681815)

    It's a useful skill, particularly for the nearsighted. And if she asks what you're looking at, explain that your martial arts instructor taught you to always look at the opponent's center of mass.

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 20 2018, @10:20AM (3 children)

      by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 20 2018, @10:20AM (#681825)

      If her rack is on her roof I'm sure everyone already knows who she is.

      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 20 2018, @10:36AM (2 children)

        by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 20 2018, @10:36AM (#681830)

        That's an odd place for her to grow a rack...

        • (Score: 3, Funny) by MostCynical on Sunday May 20 2018, @12:52PM (1 child)

          by MostCynical (2589) on Sunday May 20 2018, @12:52PM (#681845) Journal

          Maybe she just lives on her back..

          --
          "I guess once you start doubting, there's no end to it." -Batou, Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex
          • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 20 2018, @07:51PM

            by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 20 2018, @07:51PM (#681949)

            Oh you hopeless romantics!1

  • (Score: 3, Interesting) by leftover on Sunday May 20 2018, @02:57PM (1 child)

    by leftover (2448) on Sunday May 20 2018, @02:57PM (#681868)

    Have to wonder how much this is driven by observation from above rather than from ground level. Between helicopters, quadcopters, and high-mounted cameras, much of the observation imagery will not contain license plates. I could believe automatic ID of make-model-year-color from above but that is simply too broad to form a usefully-small population for further investigation. So, the expected next move could be a 1 foot wide QR decal on the roof. For the corresponding countermeasure, cover the rest of the roof with algorithm-confusing patterns? Then that will be outlawed so something else ... and on and on.

    --
    Bent, folded, spindled, and mutilated.
    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 20 2018, @11:20PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 20 2018, @11:20PM (#681986)

      observation from above rather than from ground level

      In a decade, I'm sure we will look back on the prescience of your observation.
      Wouldn't surprise me if a bunch of those gadgets are hand-me-downs from USA.mil via the 1033 program.

      high-mounted cameras

      With the cost of cameras, fiber, and storage approaching zero, it shouldn't be long until there is no unobserved/unrecorded square meter in any "developed" nation.

      -- OriginalOwner_ [soylentnews.org]

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