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posted by Dopefish on Sunday February 23 2014, @10:00AM   Printer-friendly
from the party-like-it's-1984 dept.

siliconwafer writes "The US Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is looking to acquire a vehicle license plate tracking system, to be used at the national level. According to the solicitation obtained by the Washington Post, commercial readers, supplied by a private company, would scan the plate of vehicles and store them in a "National License Plate Recognition" (NLPR) database. This is already being done at the state level, and privacy advocates are up in arms, with EFF and ACLU suing California over their automatic plate readers. Now that this has potential to become a broad and national program."

[ED Note: "Shortly after the Washington Post broke the story on the national plate reading system, it appears the DHS has shelved their plans for the tracking system, by order of Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson, at least in the interim."]

 
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  • (Score: 5, Insightful) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday February 23 2014, @11:29AM

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday February 23 2014, @11:29AM (#5150)

    Two questions.

    1. What happens to this information when someone steals your plate? I can see that leading to bad things in your future.

    ie: "Why were you located where[insert crime/terrorist attack?"

    2. What exactly is the accuracy of the readers? Tech never screws up right? How/Who verifies that information after the fact? Are they exploitable?

    Call me cynical, but anything that has the ability to make someone look like they were located some place they may not have been, ummm no, just no.

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  • (Score: 2, Insightful) by BradTheGeek on Sunday February 23 2014, @04:44PM

    by BradTheGeek (450) on Sunday February 23 2014, @04:44PM (#5215)

    These are valid concerns. However possible or probable it is to be used to locate someone incorrectly (whether intentionally or not), I take umbrage for other reasons. I do not want the government to know where I am or why unless they have a valid reason (i.e. suspicion and warrant) to. No other reason will suffice.

    I do not want some piss-ant LEA to look on his computer and say, "Welp, seems you go to AA/NA every week (we know from the destination address), perhaps I have probalbe cause to search your car for narcotics. No. Just hell no.

  • (Score: 2, Insightful) by adolf on Sunday February 23 2014, @09:30PM

    by adolf (1961) on Sunday February 23 2014, @09:30PM (#5325)

    2. ANR (automatic numberplate recognition) is ridiculously good in modern application. It consists of one or more video-ish cameras, one or more fairly serious IR illuminators (remember, license plates are retroreflective), and some computer vision code.

    License plates are somewhat like MICR codes in that they've got standardized shapes for the letters and numbers and the plate itself, and are therefore much easier read than (say) trying to OCR a page from a book shot with a camera (which has been done for years, now).

    It doesn't even need a clear frame of the entire plate at once in order to read it: It can read part of a partially obstructed plate in one frame, and the rest of the plate once if the obstruction moves enough.

    Sure, there will always be partial or missed reads. But it's also easy to assign an error estimate to every single read, partial or not, and then compare that data to the output of other ANR systems further down the road, and end up with a very clear, low-error-rate, individualized map of who's going where.

    It's very cool tech, and is something that I, for one, am not at all interested in participating in.

    --
    I'm wasting my days as I've wasted my nights and I've wasted my youth
    • (Score: 1) by Joe Desertrat on Monday February 24 2014, @03:39AM

      by Joe Desertrat (2454) on Monday February 24 2014, @03:39AM (#5496)

      "...ANR (automatic numberplate recognition) is ridiculously good in modern application. It consists of one or more video-ish cameras, one or more fairly serious IR illuminators (remember, license plates are retroreflective), and some computer vision code..."

      And in Florida at least, and I'm sure in many other places, they are trying to introduce plates that are easier to read by such means. I imagine they are looking at RFID identification and any and all other such means as well.

      • (Score: 2) by Reziac on Tuesday April 29 2014, @05:09AM

        by Reziac (2489) on Tuesday April 29 2014, @05:09AM (#37523) Homepage

        Montana has gone the other way... a lot of the specialty plates are hard to read when you're standing right there, so I wonder how they are for cameras. Tho color filtering might make the numbers leap out.

        [I can't believe the Reply link is still active, but since I tripped over this post...]

  • (Score: 1) by bob_super on Monday February 24 2014, @05:38PM

    by bob_super (1357) on Monday February 24 2014, @05:38PM (#5980)

    When the French introduced automatic radars, some farmers received tickets for their tractors doing 200km/h on the highway 500km away.
    That wasn't too hard to dismiss by checking the picture.

    However, crooks learnt to copy the license plate of a car of the same model and color, sometimes in the same town. They did catch a few, but the rest of the victims are just stuck being blamed by default (obviously, some only claim to be victims).