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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: 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.

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  • (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.

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    • (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