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posted by martyb on Sunday December 06 2015, @07:31PM   Printer-friendly
from the goose-and-gander dept.

If you have an IP-enabled security camera, you can download some free, open-source software from GitHub and boom—you have a fully functional automated license plate reader, reports ArsTechnica .

Matt Hill, OpenALPR's founder, told Ars technica "I'm a big privacy advocate... now you've got LPR just in the hands of the government, which isn't a good thing."

Will "they" like it when "we" have a crowdsourced database of where and when congressmen, judges and cops go throughout their work day?

Does this level the playing field? Open yet another can of worms? Both?


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  • (Score: 2) by MostCynical on Sunday December 06 2015, @10:17PM

    by MostCynical (2589) on Sunday December 06 2015, @10:17PM (#272601) Journal

    1. The data to support tracking is in the hands of the various levels of government. To make this "available" is going to require either giving up ALL privacy, or a massive hack, resulting in a massive loss of privacy.
    2. Collecting data on the cars passing *your* cameras tells you some stuff about patterns of movement of those cars.
    Without the linked data, that is all you have.
    3. Sharing your collected data set with others means giving it to the Government as well.. See point 1.

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  • (Score: 2) by JoeMerchant on Sunday December 06 2015, @10:25PM

    by JoeMerchant (3937) on Sunday December 06 2015, @10:25PM (#272602)

    Depends on how far you want to share it, 5 or 6 plate tracking cameras in a small neighborhood could do some very interesting things with local sharing of their plate data - no government involvement required.

    --
    Україна досі не є частиною Росії. https://www.newsweek.com/russian-state-tv-ukraine-war-dirty-bomb-putin-1754428
    • (Score: 2) by frojack on Sunday December 06 2015, @10:51PM

      by frojack (1554) Subscriber Badge on Sunday December 06 2015, @10:51PM (#272612) Journal

      Very interesting?
      Really? Such as?

      Can you see anything GOOD coming out of this? Other than some miscreant knowing exactly when each home is not occupied, I fail to see any value in this.

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      • (Score: 3, Interesting) by JoeMerchant on Monday December 07 2015, @12:31AM

        by JoeMerchant (3937) on Monday December 07 2015, @12:31AM (#272651)

        The miscreants aren't in control of the cameras or the data - if you don't trust someone, don't share data with them.

        These people who trust each other could cover the neighborhood entrances/exits and a few spots inside, collect data and bank it just like any evil government agency, then when questions arise like: "I think that landscaper came back and stole my deer camera." you could answer them with data instead of guessing. If a pattern problem is emerging like petty theft, drunk and disorderly, etc. you can get out in front of it and call the cops when the problem enters the neighborhood instead of waiting for a repeat of the bad behavior to be observed before calling. Just the presence of the system would be a deterrent, like car and house alarms, but this one doesn't have to make annoying noises to have a positive effect.

        Personally, I don't have the time to sit on the porch and make notes about every vehicle passing my front lawn, but there have always been people who do. Training our computers to do it for us gives much of the same benefits as a live neighborhood watch, with a dramatic reduction in personal time investment.

        --
        Україна досі не є частиною Росії. https://www.newsweek.com/russian-state-tv-ukraine-war-dirty-bomb-putin-1754428
        • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 07 2015, @02:53AM

          by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 07 2015, @02:53AM (#272715)

          Training our computers to do it for us gives much of the same benefits as a live neighborhood watch, with a dramatic reduction in personal time investment.

          With a loss of privacy, too. Now, how could there be a loss of privacy if someone else was already doing the job of neighborhood watch? Because human brains are fallible, they tend to forget things. Furthermore, license plate readers tend to be far more accurate and less costly, which actually does make a huge difference when it comes to privacy. Finally, these license plate readers will record the data, and all the people who have access to the data will be able to see it; this is different from a human merely sharing information with a few people because that takes time and it less accurate, while this data can be easily shared with countless people and there is little chance of the equipment "forgetting" anything.

          At the very least, license plate reader usage by the government should be completely banned; they are necessarily tools of mass surveillance, which makes them unconstitutional.

          • (Score: 2) by JoeMerchant on Monday December 07 2015, @11:12PM

            by JoeMerchant (3937) on Monday December 07 2015, @11:12PM (#273098)

            I've lived in neighborhoods with "live watch" (retirement community... waaaay too much time on their hands) - they're mostly harmless, but can get out of hand and often do exceed their basic mandate of "keeping watch" and get into snooping, needless judgement, and there was that kid that got shot in Florida... All in all, I'd rather have a database with timestamps and plate numbers, instead of a 73 yo veteran with undiagnosed PTSD and a personal arsenal in his garage that nobody knows about keeping watch on the neighborhood.

            --
            Україна досі не є частиною Росії. https://www.newsweek.com/russian-state-tv-ukraine-war-dirty-bomb-putin-1754428
          • (Score: 2) by JoeMerchant on Monday December 07 2015, @11:26PM

            by JoeMerchant (3937) on Monday December 07 2015, @11:26PM (#273103)

            Agree that it is mass surveillance and unconstitutional. I do hope that the court that hears the case will be liberal enough to shut the government collection and sharing down, keeping the data where it belongs - fragmented and hard to access in the hands of private citizens, corporations and security firms; any of which who decide to aggregate the data and share it on a scale of "mass surveillance" should also be shut down. Do I think we'll have a court that liberal in the next 50 years? Probably not.

            --
            Україна досі не є частиною Росії. https://www.newsweek.com/russian-state-tv-ukraine-war-dirty-bomb-putin-1754428
        • (Score: 3, Insightful) by frojack on Monday December 07 2015, @03:43AM

          by frojack (1554) Subscriber Badge on Monday December 07 2015, @03:43AM (#272727) Journal

          But, if you want to know who stole what, wouldn't simple off the shelf surveillance cameras work much better than recording license plates?

          Recording every plate into and out of a neighborhood then trying to guess which took your stuff, by trying to tie it to the time you finally noticed something missing seems like a rather obtuse method.

          he miscreants aren't in control of the cameras or the data

          You are probably right about that, even though its open source, we know thieves would never go to that much trouble.

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          • (Score: 2) by JoeMerchant on Monday December 07 2015, @11:23PM

            by JoeMerchant (3937) on Monday December 07 2015, @11:23PM (#273101)

            In my particular experience, I had a security (actually wildlife) camera in my (wooded) backyard - with 16 months of history, I had seen exactly 3 human beings on it. Myself a few times while checking the installation, my neighbor once chasing her dog, and a landscaper with a giant tattoo on his arm going back into the woods, to take a piss I'd guess, about a week before the camera disappeared. With license plate reader data, you could look at the week's history, check the irregulars (likely less than 10) and check them against the workers doing the landscaping, and at least have some actionable data to tell the cops besides: "It was there, then it was gone, and yeah about a week earlier a suspicious character walked by..."

            Like any data gathering method, it's not so great for a single instance, but if the moron decides that the neighborhood is easy pickings and keeps coming back, you can nail him on the 2nd or 3rd instance, much faster than with security cameras or dogs that bark at every damn armadillo that walks by.

            --
            Україна досі не є частиною Росії. https://www.newsweek.com/russian-state-tv-ukraine-war-dirty-bomb-putin-1754428
      • (Score: 2) by Phoenix666 on Monday December 07 2015, @02:16PM

        by Phoenix666 (552) on Monday December 07 2015, @02:16PM (#272899) Journal

        No, this proposal is good and will work. Why? The government and elites like to pass laws that don't apply to them. They like everyone else's freedoms to vanish while their own are maximized. But give citizens the means to level the playing field, and they quickly start singing a different song.

        The government and the elites must start to experience the repercussions of what they have already inflicted on the rest of us.

        --
        Washington DC delenda est.
        • (Score: 2) by frojack on Tuesday December 08 2015, @06:07AM

          by frojack (1554) Subscriber Badge on Tuesday December 08 2015, @06:07AM (#273221) Journal

          Again, not a single person here, including you, explains how this levels the playing field!

          So you happen to note that the judge drives to lunch at the strip joint every day. Then What?
          Start following him around? Get arrested for stalking?

          In the mean time you've captured my plates. I might frequent the same place.
          Is your quest to get some dirt on a judge so important you get to violate everyone's privacy JUST TO PROVE A POINT?
          Screw you!
          More is not better.

          --
          No, you are mistaken. I've always had this sig.
          • (Score: 2) by Phoenix666 on Tuesday December 08 2015, @12:11PM

            by Phoenix666 (552) on Tuesday December 08 2015, @12:11PM (#273297) Journal

            Another poster already said it, to air the dirty laundry they don't want aired. Knowing their locations can help uncover that. For an idea of how that would work from there, consider the case of Ashley Madison and the people who lost their jobs when it was revealed they used that service.

            It also helps to level the playing field by de-anonymizing them. They like to exercise their power from a place of anonymity, and this little brother project helps with that. The more general statement is, "Sunlight is the best disinfectant."

            --
            Washington DC delenda est.
            • (Score: 2) by frojack on Tuesday December 08 2015, @07:45PM

              by frojack (1554) Subscriber Badge on Tuesday December 08 2015, @07:45PM (#273589) Journal

              They like to exercise their power from a place of anonymity,

              You can't exercise much power from a place of anonymity. Everybody knows who has the power.

              But even if you could exercise your power from anonymity, is that a crime? What gives you the right to strip that away?

              We can't, as a nation, nay, as an entire civilization, agree that the government has such a right, yet now you want to allow every person to have the right to violate everyone else's privacy? To what end? Nothing will be improved.

              Ashley Madison ended up being a bunch of men trolling other men. WHO the fuck cares? You sound like you are on some kind of religious vendetta or something, to impose your own set of values on the rest of us, just because you can. What the fuck is wrong with you? Who was it in your life that failed to teach you any morals?

              The general statement is keep your nose out of my business.

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              • (Score: 2) by Phoenix666 on Tuesday December 08 2015, @08:43PM

                by Phoenix666 (552) on Tuesday December 08 2015, @08:43PM (#273611) Journal

                You're missing the point, frojack. The powerful will not understand the value of the right to privacy, and legislate accordingly, until they have been stripped of theirs. So the Little Brother project does not aim to destroy privacy for everyone forever, but to drive the lesson home to the powerful.

                To put it in terms I know you understand, if the government wants to take away our guns, then they too must lose theirs. So long as they keep theirs, we keep ours too. This is giving us the same weapons they already have. I believe, and you may or may not share this belief, that the freedom of the people is greatest when the government fears the people.

                --
                Washington DC delenda est.
                • (Score: 2) by frojack on Tuesday December 08 2015, @10:00PM

                  by frojack (1554) Subscriber Badge on Tuesday December 08 2015, @10:00PM (#273655) Journal

                  No I am not missing the point. You and others have been spouting the same damn thing over and over.

                  It won't work, and the damage you inflict on society as a whole will be far greater than the damage inflicted on the fat cats.

                  The ends don't justify the means.

                  Why: Because Nothing will be accomplished other than to impoverish all of us.
                  Seriously, what jurisdiction is going to stop using plate readers just because somebody figured out how to do it privately?
                  Did government swear off encrypted communications just because it became available to the public?
                  Did the government swear off CCTV just because private security cams became popular?
                  Has embarrassing the government or the corporate powerful ever, even once, caused any of them to change their ways?

                  You aren't thinking past the "spite factor". You are destroying the village to save it.

                  The idea is out there, so it will end up being done by a few hackers. But it will be totally ineffective, and just as
                  likely to engender more government regulations and prohibitions than less.

                  And the damage is to all of us not just the fat cats you imagine quaking in their boots over this.

                  Further it will backfire. Since every citizen can do this with a raspberry pi and a $5 camera chip, why
                  should the government be forbidden to do it?

                  You are a dreamer. This approach has never once succeeded.

                  --
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                  • (Score: 2) by Phoenix666 on Wednesday December 09 2015, @12:42AM

                    by Phoenix666 (552) on Wednesday December 09 2015, @12:42AM (#273730) Journal

                    You're right. Let's leave the power to spy on everyone and everything exclusively in the hands of scumbags in corporations and governments. Let's remove all power to know stuff they don't want us to know, because everyone knows transparency in government never works. Let's not know who's paying off whom. Let's allow what we know to be purely a product of image consultants and spinmeisters, because disclosure changes nothing.

                    That's rather the world we have had, and now we're starting to have the means as citizens to level the playing field. We tried wishing the problem of government criminality away, but that hasn't worked because nobody in government is listening to the citizens anymore. Projects like Little Brother are an attempt to cause them to change course so we don't have to resort to more drastic measures. As such I say we try it. Unless you favor skipping over nonviolent compulsion? I hope you aren't arguing for the status quo, because that's roundly, soundly broken.

                    --
                    Washington DC delenda est.
                    • (Score: 2) by frojack on Wednesday December 09 2015, @12:52AM

                      by frojack (1554) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday December 09 2015, @12:52AM (#273733) Journal

                      You're right. Let's leave the power to spy on everyone and everything exclusively in the hands of scumbags in corporations and governments.

                      Then UN-ELECT them, and elect someone who will pass laws out-lawing the practices you object to. Put your legislators on notice that they will either vote for these laws or you will remove them from power via the Ballot.

                      Attack them with the same spy tools and they will pass laws against that, or more likely they will just laugh at you as you tilt endlessly at that windmill with a raspberry pi at the end of your lance. Little Brother? You men little bother. I mean, it would be funny if it weren't so sad that you think this will make a difference.

                      You do know that government officials and anyone else who can show evidence of a threat against them can get an unlisted license plate don't you? Its in your state law. Look it up.

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