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posted by CoolHand on Tuesday May 09 2017, @05:44PM   Printer-friendly
from the little-freedoms dept.

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.

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  • (Score: 2) by arulatas on Tuesday May 09 2017, @06:18PM (6 children)

    by arulatas (3600) on Tuesday May 09 2017, @06:18PM (#507015)

    Couldn't they put a set of infrared lights around the plate to block the reading via automated methods? There by not obscuring the plate from visual inspection? []

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  • (Score: 3, Informative) by Scruffy Beard 2 on Tuesday May 09 2017, @06:26PM (3 children)

    by Scruffy Beard 2 (6030) on Tuesday May 09 2017, @06:26PM (#507019)

    Notice that was filmed in an garage with artificial light.

    In full sun, the ambient light will overwhelm the IR light.

    • (Score: 2) by arulatas on Tuesday May 09 2017, @07:38PM (2 children)

      by arulatas (3600) on Tuesday May 09 2017, @07:38PM (#507075)

      Thanks. I actually looked up some other sources (people not trying to sell you something) after I posted that. I found one that did some tests and they found the LED lighting wouldn't overload the cameras for most infra red LED lighting.

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      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 09 2017, @11:57PM

        by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday May 09 2017, @11:57PM (#507197)

        Better idea - get vinyl letters in the same font as your license plate and put them on either side. That way your plate is not obscured, but the OCR software will pick up the extra characters and read the 'wrong' plate number. Swap the characters every few weeks/months as you see fit to further frustrate tracking.

      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 10 2017, @09:04AM

        by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 10 2017, @09:04AM (#507441)
  • (Score: 2) by bob_super on Tuesday May 09 2017, @06:27PM

    by bob_super (1357) on Tuesday May 09 2017, @06:27PM (#507022)

    Plate has to be readable when the vehicle is in motion. You're suggesting putting lights on the plate when it doesn't run, which sounds like a DieHard business plan.

  • (Score: 2) by Kromagv0 on Tuesday May 09 2017, @08:49PM

    by Kromagv0 (1825) on Tuesday May 09 2017, @08:49PM (#507114) Homepage

    Unfortunately hoping to get a lens flare like effect doesn't seem to work all [] that well [], even with better LEDs than those crappy rope ones. I think one's best bet would be to have a large area around the plate that is just dumping out a massive amount of IR (think several hundred watts as you would like to have it be a bright or brighter than the sun) and really fuck up the exposure so your plate is underexposed by like 12 stops

    T-Shirts and bumper stickers [] to offend someone