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posted by CoolHand on Sunday May 10 2015, @03:49AM   Printer-friendly
from the evil-vs-good dept.

It's not just governments and law enforcement agencies that are advocating the use of license plate readers, as The Intercept's Lee Fang reports:

As privacy advocates battle to rein in the use of automated license plate readers (ALPRs), they're going up against another industry that benefits from this mass surveillance: lenders and debt collectors. [...] In Rhode Island, for instance, state Rep. Larry Valencia and state Sen. Gayle Goldin proposed bills in 2014 to prohibit the sale or trade of data collected by ALPRs, and to mandate that the state destroy records after one year.

I filed a records request and found two letters in opposition. One letter came from the[sic] Steven G. O'Donnell, on behalf of the Rhode Island State Police, arguing that law enforcement should be able to come up with its own internal procedures to govern the use of ALPRs. The other letter came from Danielle Fagre Arlow, senior vice president to the American Financial Services Association (AFSA), a trade group for consumer lending companies, some of which target the subprime market.

"Our particular interest in the bill," Arlow wrote, "is the negative impact it would have on ALPR’s valuable role in our industry – the ability to identify and recover vehicles associated with owners who have defaulted on their loans and are not responding to good-faith efforts to contact them." Arlow opposed the bill's restrictions on "how long data can be kept because access to historical data is important in determining where hard-to-find vehicles are likely located."

AFSA lobbied against several similar bills as they were proposed around the country. In Massachussetts, the group lobbied against a bill designed to destroy ALPR records after 90 days. AFSA argued that such a regime is unfair because "ALPR systems work best when they are used to string together the historical locations of vehicles."

[...] According to the ACLU of Rhode Island, the ALPR privacy bill died last session — notably, the bill failed after the consumer lending lobbyists voiced their opposition.

Unofficial Secrets is a newly launched and more frequently updated blog from First Look Media/The Intercept.

Related stories:

DHS Wants a National License Plate Tracking System
Ars Technica Obtains Large Dataset of Oakland Police Department License Plate Scans
Watch Out for "Automated Vehicle Occupancy Detection"

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  • (Score: 2, Troll) by MichaelDavidCrawford on Sunday May 10 2015, @03:56AM

    I was offered a job writing a license plate reader for the iphone, specifically for use in finding cars that are wanted for repossession. I was interested to take the work at first, but after some reflection, I never showed up to the job.

    I wasn't completely clear how it would work, but one way or another, users would be paid for using my app. I don't know whether they would be rewarded only when they found a car that was wanted, or for the quantity of license plate numbers they submitted &c.

    Just today I learned of some town in Arizona that has hidden dozens of license plate readers in fake cacti. I haven't owned a car for a few years, but lately I've been thinking of getting one, or maybe even a motorcycle, as public transit doesn't go to any of the remote places I like to visit.

    I'm not so sure I want to drive at all though, as I don't want to be tracked. Maybe I'll ride my bicycle to arizona.

    Imagine a complete stranger were to follow you around. Even if he kept his distance, it would be quite disconcerting to see that same stranger everywhere you went.

    In my specific case, I suffer from clinical paranoia. Were I to get a car, then spend lots of time contemplating license plate readers, I'd be in a psychiatric hospital in no time at all.

    Yes I Have No Bananas. []
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  • (Score: -1, Troll) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 10 2015, @04:03AM

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 10 2015, @04:03AM (#180969)

    How much of what you say about yourself and your past life experience is actually true, and how much is total bullshit?

  • (Score: 4, Insightful) by frojack on Sunday May 10 2015, @04:33AM

    by frojack (1554) on Sunday May 10 2015, @04:33AM (#180986) Journal

    There are half million of these in the Android Play store. Many for EU and even Russia.

    No clue what the average guy would do with these other than to become bounty hunters for dead-beats.
    I would think the way to go about this for the Loan recover business would be for them to publish a list to the app, rather than the app simply sending random plates in to some company in the sky.

    But I bet that's not what they plan. I bet they end up trying to track Every Financed Vehicle for the term of the loan.

    Not content with the surveillance society, they now aim to turn us against each other.

    Glad you walked away.

    No, you are mistaken. I've always had this sig.
    • (Score: 2) by MichaelDavidCrawford on Sunday May 10 2015, @05:15AM

      more or less the way I would do it would be to scan license plates all over town, then search for matches from lists that I obtained from auto credit companies.

      But just because one can, does not mean that one should.

      Yes I Have No Bananas. []
      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 10 2015, @03:04PM

        by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 10 2015, @03:04PM (#181090)

        I'd scan plates at the local motels that charge by the hour. Much bigger potential for profit there.

        • (Score: 2) by MichaelDavidCrawford on Sunday May 10 2015, @04:47PM

          there's a lot of big businesses around here - Intel, Mentor Graphics, Nike.

          I'd scout around for the kinds of parking lots where one might find maseratis or ferraris.

          Yes I Have No Bananas. []
          • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 10 2015, @07:27PM

            by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 10 2015, @07:27PM (#181140)

            People with money are much less likely to default on their loans or payment plans. Heck, most wealthy people will just buy these cars outright, few would bother to finance such petty items. My boss at this one place I work even bought some nice apartment complexes outright.

            • (Score: 2) by MichaelDavidCrawford on Tuesday May 12 2015, @03:10AM

              A close friend scored $1.5M when he sold his dot-com to a competitor.

              You know what he did with all that cash?

              He took out a whole bunch of loans.


              He lost everything in the dot-com crash. I asked him one day why his website said his new company had some open positions. He replied that doing so led his creditors to believe he was solvent.

              Yes I Have No Bananas. []
    • (Score: 1, Informative) by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 10 2015, @03:00PM

      by Anonymous Coward on Sunday May 10 2015, @03:00PM (#181089)

      >I bet they end up trying to track Every Financed Vehicle for the term of the loan.

      You are not thinking big enough. They want to track every vehicle.

      Forbes ran a story [] a couple of years ago about how one network of repo-scanners are selling tracking data for every plate they have ever scanned.

      The price to lookup a plate? Just $10.

  • (Score: 2) by takyon on Sunday May 10 2015, @05:23AM

    by takyon (881) <reversethis-{gro ... s} {ta} {noykat}> on Sunday May 10 2015, @05:23AM (#181000) Journal

    If this is true, odds are the app (a version specifically for repo purposes) has been made multiple times since then. [] [] [] []

    Where does this private data come from?

    The private data that is shared with Vigilant Solutions’ hosted solution comes from a number of sources. The largest source of data is from Digital Recognition Network (DRN), a partner company to Vigilant.

    An industry pioneer in vehicle asset location technology and services for the financial and insurance markets, DRN fuels a national network of more than 550 Affiliates employing Vigilant’s mobile LPR to gather data for its clients. DRN shares this data over to Vigilant’s law enforcement data center via a one-way communication (i.e. no information from the law enforcement data center ever goes back to DRN). Because this technology is used in every major metropolitan area in the United States, DRN captures data on around 100 million vehicles each month. This data is shared to Vigilant’s National Vehicle Location Service for use by law enforcement.

    Some of these private companies collecting 100s of millions of plates are definitely selling out to more than just law enforcement agencies.

    [SIG] 10/28/2017: Soylent Upgrade v14 []
    • (Score: 2) by MichaelDavidCrawford on Sunday May 10 2015, @02:18PM

      many people don't drive cars at all.

      So on the average, every one or two months, some complete stranger would know where your car has been. If you live in a densely populated area, quite likely they'd know where your car has been every single day.

      Among the reasons I won't ever use Uber is that they bragged about tracking "Rides of Glory", in which the passenger arrived at a particular address Friday or Saturday night, then departed from that same address Saturday or Sunday morning.

      I like to drive, I really do. It is quite upsetting to me, that I choose not to buy a car - maybe a motorcycle - as I've been planning for the last little while.

      Maybe it would be OK were I only to drive it in the remote wilderness.

      Maybe I'll buy a car in Mexico, then drive it around in the US. There is some time limit that one can do something like that; when the deadline approaches, I'd drive it back to Mexico then purchase another car.

      Yes I Have No Bananas. []