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Britain to log all vehicle movement

samzenpus posted more than 8 years ago | from the they-are-watching-you dept.

Technology 914

dubbayu_d_40 writes "Using a network of cameras that can record license plates, Britain plans to build a database of vehicle movement for police and security services: rollout begins in March. Can't someone just swap/steal/disable the tracking device? Seems to me just another way to track the average citizen and not those wishing to avoid authorities."

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Just like gun legislation (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14315558)

It is only targeted at law abiding citizens.

Re:Just like gun legislation (2, Funny)

daspriest (904701) | more than 8 years ago | (#14315581)

This will suck when the coppers knock on your door asking you why you went to a certain address at a certain time...

Fake license plates... (4, Interesting)

Joce640k (829181) | more than 8 years ago | (#14315582)

Like, how hard would it be for a "terrorist" to get fake licence plates and stick them on a car?

Re:Fake license plates... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14315658)

How hard is it for the police to detect the license plates are fake, now? Not very...

Re:Fake license plates... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14315676)

How hard is it for the police to detect the license plates are fake, now?

From a black'n'white photo taken at 100 MPH? Probably impossible.

Or you mean when they catch him? Well, then they don't need the license plate anymore (and neither does he).

Re:Fake license plates... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14315737)

They will just compare the license number with the number of the chip implanted in your head.

Re:Fake license plates... (5, Interesting)

pookemon (909195) | more than 8 years ago | (#14315679)

Very easy - but if the system detects the licence plates and identifies them as being (a) not valid (ie. Not a number in the database), (b) duplicates or (c) stolen - then that would flag the system and tell it to track the plates. Which could then be used to get the Police to investigate.

Re:Fake license plates... (1)

m1bxd (940711) | more than 8 years ago | (#14315738)

Very hard, the UK road tax disks of the future are going to have RFID tags in them with your chasis number / VIN. So as you go under a bridge you will get scanned by the camera and blasted with RF and a tally between the two will fully validate the vehicle for UK road tax, insurance and ownership details.

Re:Just like gun legislation (2, Informative)

fabs64 (657132) | more than 8 years ago | (#14315649)

Gun legislation is also handy for preventing diagnosed psycho's from being allowed to use them.. as well as convicted murderers etc.
Then again, if guns were banned for psycho's in the US then I guess profits would take a serious hit.

/Australian gun owner

Re:Just like gun legislation (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14315781)

Yeah, all gun bans are for the good of the people. Like the Regulations Against Jews' Possession of Weapons Law dated November 11th, 1938.

It is no coincidence in history that fascists create laws under the guise of preventing crime that instead targets everyone or a specific group of law abiding citizens. Gun laws are the most obvious because they have the most impact. But other laws exist as well. When you create a law that takes away freedom of people who follow the law, you never prevent crime. Criminals don't follow the laws, that's why they are criminals. Laws should target criminals, not law abiding citizens. This is why this British monitoring system is so vile.

Re:Just like gun legislation (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14315659)

They make you register your guns to cut down on crime. We all know how effective that was.
Next they ban your guns to cut down on crime. Instead, crime increases.
Next they monitor your car to cut down on crime.

I'm suuure crime is going to be reduced by this (sarc).

How long until they implant monitoring chips in the name of crime? Or city checkpoints? Etc., etc., etc.

wow (5, Insightful)

Afecks (899057) | more than 8 years ago | (#14315559)

Between this and data retention [] they are going to know about everyone we contact and everywhere we go. It would be different if this was only to be used for finding stolen cars or tracking known criminals but they plan on monitoring everyone.

It seems like we are getting closer and closer to that futuristic dystopia and it scares the hell out of me.

future interrogation (2, Interesting)

rodgster (671476) | more than 8 years ago | (#14315655)

(scene of darkened interrogation room date is February 30, 2011)

authoritarian voice over loud speaker: 671476! on march 3, 2006 your vehicle was observed crossing the San Francisco Bay Bridge. There were 2 people in the vehicle. Who was the other person and where were you going?

subject: WTF? Whois 671476? My name is rodgster. I have no idea what the F@$& you're talking about. That was 5 years ago.

authoritarian voice over loud speaker: 671476, don't play games with us. Our records go back even further.

subject: come on! I don't remember what I had for lunch last week.

authoritarian voice over loud speaker: 671476, maybe you'd like to see the in-car surveillance? Would that refresh your memory?

-video clip plays-

subject: hey that's me and my girlfriend (in my bedroom)! That's it! I know my rights! I demand to be told what I am being held for! I demand to see my lawyer right now!

authoritarian voice over loud speaker: sit down! 671476, you have no rights anymore. Now, if you continue to be uncooperative we have some openings down in Gitmo.

Re:future interrogation (4, Informative)

sunwukong (412560) | more than 8 years ago | (#14315675)

The ACLU [] has a less dramatic but just as powerful scenario in SWF form.

Re:wow (1)

hamoe (260438) | more than 8 years ago | (#14315669)

How did this get modded funny??!

Outrage! (5, Funny)

falzer (224563) | more than 8 years ago | (#14315560)

That cuts it, I'm moving to America!

Re:Outrage! (5, Funny)

Sofalover (920271) | more than 8 years ago | (#14315577)

Frying pan, fire.

Re:Outrage! (1)

basic0 (182925) | more than 8 years ago | (#14315602)

Because there are NO police [] state [] type [] shenanigans [] happening there..

Re:Outrage! (1)

zxnos (813588) | more than 8 years ago | (#14315691)

i like the photoshopped image on the third link. makes everything that much more credible...

Re:Outrage! (3, Insightful)

Edman (931166) | more than 8 years ago | (#14315622)

Moving to the U.S.? I suppose you're getting tracked more easily in america than in Europe. We are just starting to use these techniques here, they're already perfecting's no use running away. Globalization has side effects, and this is one of the worst.

Why are we discussing this... (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14315633)

...when the President of the United States has just admitted to authorizing his administration to break the law on at least three dozen separate occasions, thereby repeatedly and flagrantly violating his oath of office, the Constitution, and the Supreme Court's interpretation of such?
...when the Vice President of the United States has declared that his office, and the office of the President, are entitled to ignore laws it finds inconvenient? Even laws specifically written to check their authority?

Why is there not more outrage? Why are impeachment proceedings not beginning this very moment?

Where the fuck did my country go?

Re:Why are we discussing this... (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14315722)

Where the fuck did my country go?

Apparently it left with Clinton and Carter, seeing as how they did the exact same thing. Read: Aldrich Ames as an example.

Don't be in a hurry. (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14315697)

In britain, at least they are being up front with what is happening. Here, we have a treasonase president that lies, yet complaigns about the person(s) that told the media that he was lieing and spying. Go figure.

Re:Outrage! (2, Insightful)

m1bxd (940711) | more than 8 years ago | (#14315753)

Have you visited the US recently?
You will get finger printed and a your photo taken for their db.

Welcome to 1984! (4, Insightful)

rodgster (671476) | more than 8 years ago | (#14315562)

I would be interested to see an impact study of this in a couple of years.

I'll guess it'll show to be effective against common crimes, but little else.

I'm opposed to police state measures. I'm not afraid and I see little reason for anyone to be afraid. You have a much better chance of winning the lottery than being killed by terrorism.

The fascists are playing on people's unjustified fears.

Re:Welcome to 1984! (1)

ninthwave (150430) | more than 8 years ago | (#14315607)

I really want to know what is the information processing capabilities of these systems. We saw with congestion charging in London a system could read license plate numbers and relay that with a db. Great but now track movements of cars across more points when does the system hit information overload?????

Re:Welcome to 1984! (1)

eyeye (653962) | more than 8 years ago | (#14315617)

Perhaps they will use this as another revenue earner like speed cameras. Car passes camera X at a certain time, then camera Y. They know the distance between them and your number plate and so can ticket you.

This cant stop "terrorists", they can go and buy a car for £1000 from any used car dealer whenever they like, or OMG they could get a bus or train.

Re:Welcome to 1984! (2, Funny)

FireFury03 (653718) | more than 8 years ago | (#14315695)

This cant stop "terrorists", they can go and buy a car for £1000 from any used car dealer whenever they like, or OMG they could get a bus or train.

Clearly you haven't used the public transport system in the UK :)

Re:Welcome to 1984! (4, Insightful)

KeefP (56067) | more than 8 years ago | (#14315773)

Sadly, the terrorists did

A sad day. (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14315564)

I have never seen a story where tinfoil hats were so neccesary, and so useless.

Good bye privacy. :-(

Hmmm (4, Informative)

AnthonyFielding (593972) | more than 8 years ago | (#14315569)

I'd just like to point out that anybody wishing to drive dodgy vehicles around the Trafford Centre's car parks, should be more careful -because they have these cameras too. They look like tannoy horns, and are i think on most entrances to Manchester city centre!! -these things have been in place for a while now.

Re:Hmmm (4, Funny)

Petrushka (815171) | more than 8 years ago | (#14315592)

I rather think anyone leaving their car at the Trafford Centre car parks has better things to worry about than the cameras.

Another tremendous CCTV victory. (2, Interesting)

c0dedude (587568) | more than 8 years ago | (#14315571)

Britan has long had the world's largest CCTV surveillance system. It has failed to prevent crime, though helped catch criminals. This will likely be the same way. My intuition is to say the costs, including to civil liberties, will outweigh the benefits, but considering that Britain is on the new front lines of Islamic Extremism, this may be worth it. Tracking associations is key in fighting organized crime, such as terrorism.

Re:Another tremendous CCTV victory. (1)

Sofalover (920271) | more than 8 years ago | (#14315595)

Giving our police and intelligence services access to great kit like this is akin to giving monkeys Apple Macs.

Re:Another tremendous CCTV victory. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14315641)

Tony, is that you?


mark_hill97 (897586) | more than 8 years ago | (#14315729)

Some mod marked this guy as flamebait when it definately isnt, he brings up some good points though i disagree with him about it might be worth it.

Read your own article? (3, Insightful)

Shoten (260439) | more than 8 years ago | (#14315578)

Steal the tracking device...what tracking device? They plan to use cameras, which will record the plates of passing cars. You submitted the article, but didn't read it?

What I found most inane was the notion that a vehicle traveling near another vehicle of interest can be incriminated by association. How did they ever come up with THAT idea?

Re:Read your own article? (1)

Colbalt Blue (915568) | more than 8 years ago | (#14315632)

The tracking device is the license plate. This can easily be stolen, removed or altered. I thought that it was an interesting way to put it. I'm surprised it took that long to see someone accusing the author of not reading the article.

RFID numberplates (2, Interesting)

slashnik (181800) | more than 8 years ago | (#14315740)


from 05&NewsID=64 []

Last year, in the 26 UK police forces that now record the crime, there were 14,176 confirmed thefts of number-plates. Up to one in 250 vehicles may be entering the London congestion charge zone on false number-plates and more than £14 million is lost annually by petrol stations from drive-offs, mostly involving cloned cars.

To counter this it looks like that the British government is looking at RFID tags in numberplates

from /vrm_security.htm []

(i) Electronic tagging has the potential to provide the most reliable method of preventing the misrepresentation of a vehicle's identity through the display on its number plate of the registration mark of another vehicle ie "ringing" or "cloning."


Re:Read your own article? (1)

zgap (579602) | more than 8 years ago | (#14315666)

i think that was the point. its decidedly easier to forge the identity of a car by stealing the plates of another or getting someone to make some for you (quite easily done without documentation probably anywhere in the country) than to steal or duplicate a smart tag of some description.

i think we call this ringing. dunno why.

i think the knightrider idea of rotating number plates is about to become reality. unfortunately on this occasion is not my friend, so dig out your vhs.


MCMLXXXIV (-1, Flamebait)

Goalie_Ca (584234) | more than 8 years ago | (#14315583)

Wow. Britain is so whipped! I mean America better get off their asses if they want to be number 1. I feel sad living in Americas retarded cousin EH! I know all were gonna do is have a little debate, maybe draft something up and have our prime minister chicken out after the people give some feedback. How the fuck are we supposed to get anything done with a mentality like that? Oh well... I suppose we'll never be number 1. We just don't have the balls for it!

worse than nothing (5, Insightful)

PrayingWolf (818869) | more than 8 years ago | (#14315588)

Logging might actually feed the police with false information: I mean it's not a hard to make replicas of plates belonging to someone else... someone with the same kind of car.
That way the terrorists or whatever can actually use the system against the police

So now I'm asking, why put this system up in the first place... only to scare people into quiet submission? Seems that way to me...


Re:worse than nothing (1)

jabuzz (182671) | more than 8 years ago | (#14315606)

Except the equipment to make plates has been heavily regulated for several years now. Long gone are the days when you could just walk into a shop and ask for a random license plate to be made. Now you need to produce the vehicle license documentation, and a drivers license at least.

Re:worse than nothing (2, Insightful)

CountBrass (590228) | more than 8 years ago | (#14315637)

You really think that would stop a crook? There are plenty of fake / improperly issued MOTs around. What makes you think license plates are any different.

Re:worse than nothing (1)

FireFury03 (653718) | more than 8 years ago | (#14315711)

Except the equipment to make plates has been heavily regulated for several years now. Long gone are the days when you could just walk into a shop and ask for a random license plate to be made. Now you need to produce the vehicle license documentation, and a drivers license at least.

I rather suspect the people working in the shops producing licence plates wouldn't need to produce any documentation to knock up a licence plate for themselves in their lunch break. Infact I'm sure a suitably sized brown envelope with cash in it would do the trick too.

And besides, do you _really_ think the cameras can tell the difference between a real licence plate and one made out of cardboard?

Re:worse than nothing (1)

lgftsa (617184) | more than 8 years ago | (#14315715)

For the short time required to commit many crimes, "good enough" is good enough. As long as the paint reflectivity is close enough to fool the camera, an embossed metal plate can be faked by a piece of cardboard. One of those acrylic license place protectors would make it hard for even a human to see the difference unless they were close up.

Remember, these people are criminals, and will be dumping the fake plates and/or the entire stolen car as soon as possible.

A stolen car with fake plates matching a non-stolen car of the same model/color is an obvious technique, but with real-time tracking the fact that there's two vehicles on the road with the same plates should raise a flag indicating a crime in progress.

Re:worse than nothing (1)

imdx80 (842737) | more than 8 years ago | (#14315754)

"Except the equipment to make plates has been heavily regulated for several years now."
good job theres no such thing as dodgy garages etc

Re:worse than nothing (4, Interesting)

ibbey (27873) | more than 8 years ago | (#14315757)

You seem to be assuming that the people who want to make a counterfeit plate are without resources. It's no harder to counterfeit a license plate then it is to counterfeit a CD, and look at how well the efforts to crack down on those have gone. At the most primitive, any color printer can make a fake license plate that will fool a simple (or even not so simple) optical recognition system. It probably wouldn't fool a human, but for many things that's not a big deal, especially if you don't need the ruse to last very long. If you need something that will last longer, it will require a bigger investment, but certainly not an investment that any crime syndacite or terrorist organization would have trouble acheiving.

And of course, don't forget that the simplest form of misdirection doesn't require counterfeiting plates at all. Just steal one from a similar make & model & swap it out someplace outside of the view of the cameras. If you attach the plate with Velcro, you can swap out the plate in probably 15 seconds.

The more I think about it, the more I realize that this is -exactly- like CD copy protection. It does little, if anything, to stop the purported targets (organized pirates, terrorists), but is very effective at it's real goal (forcing people to buy multiple copies of their favorite CD's, control the masses & collect revenue from speeders). Hopefully the scheme will backfire as badly for the British government as it has for Sony.

Speedtraps (4, Interesting)

spikestabber (644578) | more than 8 years ago | (#14315591)

They also plan on using this setup to catch speeders. The time it takes to move between cameras can tell exactly how fast you're going.

Re:Speedtraps (2, Informative)

Tim C (15259) | more than 8 years ago | (#14315682)

No they can't, they can measure your average speed. They have no idea what speed you were actually travelling at at any point between the two cameras.

I know I'm being pedantic, but it's my nature - I'm an ex-physicist programmer, I've been trained and am paid (in part) to be pedantic...

Re:Speedtraps (-1, Redundant)

Dibblah (645750) | more than 8 years ago | (#14315727)

You should really only be pedantic when you're right.
Speed is distance over time. So the idea of a "point" measure of speed is silly _and_ technically violates quantum theory. Anyway. If your average speed is above the speed limit, then your peak speed inside the zone would also be above the speed limit.
The UK has had these kinds of cameras for some time now - SPECS - []

Re:Speedtraps (1)

spikestabber (644578) | more than 8 years ago | (#14315747)

Place one every mile like they have planned and average speed will become more reliable.

Re:Speedtraps (2, Informative)

Tim C (15259) | more than 8 years ago | (#14315772)


The OP said:

The time it takes to move between cameras can tell exactly how fast you're going. (Emphasis mine)

You said:

If your average speed is above the speed limit (Emphasis mine)

In what way is your average speed your exact speed?

So the idea of a "point" measure of speed is silly _and_ technically violates quantum theory.

I wasn't entirely clear perhaps, but I didn't say anything about a point measure of speed - when I said "point", I didn't mean in the mathematical sense, I meant it in the general sense, ie in this case a short stretch of road. (You know, how people talk of "a point in time" meaning a general time, anything from a few minutes to a few years, not something precise down to the nanosecond)

As for violating quantum theory, now you're being silly. We have yet to extend QM to macroscopic objects, so the uncertainty principle doesn't really apply when talking about cars. Yes, every particle that makes up the car is governed by QM, but no-one would seriously start talking about its wavefunction.

Re:Speedtraps (2, Interesting)

Solo-Malee (618168) | more than 8 years ago | (#14315694)

Anyone who is aware of how bad traffic congestion is in the UK will realise that it will be barely possible to hit the speed limit based on the average speed of a vehicle between two points, let alone actually get fined for breaking that limit! I look forward to the next range of gadgets that tie in GPS to known speed limits and provide you with a Heads Up Display of your average speed and an alert system that allows you to slow down just enough to keep from getting a fine based on that average speed. 100MPH sprints between traffic queues anyone!?

Re:Speedtraps (1)

mrjb (547783) | more than 8 years ago | (#14315775)

Actually this setup is already being used to catch speeders in the Netherlands.
On the A13 where I pass daily, there is an average maximum speed limit of 80 km/h "to reduce emission".

Now in a perfect world, there would not be a hidden agenda- that is, once it was established that you didn't surpass the speed limit, the data indicating that you had been there would be discarded. I guess it is naive to believe this is actually being done. Officially we don't know that any data is being kept, but I've already received a flyer to participate in a survey "because you frequently use the A13". What ever happened to the right of privacy?

Is this even constitutional? Or simply a case of "The law, in its majestic equity, forbids begging, stealing of bread and sleeping under bridges both to the rich and the poor"?

At least in the UK they are calling a horse a horse: I prefer to hear "We're going to further invade your privacy. Oh, and by the way, we might use it for speedtraps too." than to hear a lie stating "We're not recording any data about you".

Setting the stage for horrible governments (5, Insightful)

nysus (162232) | more than 8 years ago | (#14315599)

Surveillance like this is not bad with the proper checks and balances on access to the data and how it is used. But those checks can erode. Sure the data may not be abused this year or the next, but what about 20 years from now, or 100? Can we really be so certain that our democratic institutions will hold together? Sure, today's leaders might have our trust (barely), but how can we possibly put trust in people who aren't even in power yet?

I, for one, am worried about the world my 3-year-old will come to know.

Re:Setting the stage for horrible governments (1)

kennygraham (894697) | more than 8 years ago | (#14315654)

> I, for one, am worried about the world my 3-year-old will come to know. Yet your 3-year-old will be on slashdot welcoming her overlords. And so the cycle continues.

Data Overload (1)

Johnyy_Bravo (534111) | more than 8 years ago | (#14315765)

Our society is addicted to data but can't handle it. The boss asks for a report on company revenue so someone gives him a report of sum(register_cash_float) and incorrect assumptions get made. Major corporations are the worst. Their databases become stagnant over time, and innocent people suffer because the workers have no option but to trust what is on the computer screen. All is not lost though! Your 3 year old is growing up in a digital world. They will learn skills that you have no comprehension of, and will shape the world as they see fit (unfortunately not as you see fit). Then we can all explore space in peace and harmony.

Just never do anything wrong (5, Funny)

g0hare (565322) | more than 8 years ago | (#14315600)

And you'll be fine.

If everyone followed that ideal (1)

Osmosis_Garett (712648) | more than 8 years ago | (#14315645)

we'd be fine.

Re:Just never do anything wrong (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14315671)

Define 'wrong'.

Then tell me what happens when the government's definition of 'wrong' changes to encompass a way of life that YOU hold dear.

Would you still be so dangerously compliant?

Big whoop (3, Insightful)

DrMrLordX (559371) | more than 8 years ago | (#14315601)

I fail to see how this is any worse than, say, a bunch of Americans voluntarily buying vehicles equipped with OnStar that tracks your vechile's movements pretty well by means potentially more insidious than cameras.

Re:Big whoop ...easy - because OnStar is voluntary (1)

Joce640k (829181) | more than 8 years ago | (#14315619)

I fail to see how this is any worse than, say, a bunch of Americans voluntarily buying vehicles equipped with OnStar

Key word: "voluntarily"

Re:Big whoop (1)

temojen (678985) | more than 8 years ago | (#14315623)

OnStar is voluntary as in, if you don't like it, don't buy GM.

Re:Big whoop (1)

mbrett (751233) | more than 8 years ago | (#14315730)

...or Saab, or Hummer, or Acura, or Isuzu, or Audi, or Volkswagen...

The Transparent Society (2, Insightful)

under_score (65824) | more than 8 years ago | (#14315603)

Any chance of getting this law to go in a more benign direction [] ? If there's going to be all these cameras anyway, might as well see if the data they pick up can be made public so that abuse of the data is reduced. Gaak. Crazy times we live in!

Re:The Transparent Society (1)

PatrickThomson (712694) | more than 8 years ago | (#14315692)

Making the data public will increase the abuse. Here, things are very sensible and there isn't much abuse of "common sense" laws that rely on the courts and the police to make case by case decisions, unlike the rampant abuse in america. For example, the july 7th bomber suspects are being put on trial soon after capture, we're not shipping them off to a prison camp in the middle of the north sea for 5 years (and counting.)

I don't have a problem with the police being able to identify number plates from cctv, I do have a problem with a random member of public being able to do the same. Here in britain we seem to be in the grip of paedomania, so I'll say what's on everyone's mind: tracking your underage victim.

Re:The Transparent Society (2, Interesting)

kcbrown (7426) | more than 8 years ago | (#14315774)

Any chance of getting this law to go in a more benign direction [] ?

Brin is far too optimistic here. Those with power are almost never willing to give it up or allow it to be reduced in any way. Quite the opposite in fact: they tend to want to increase their power.

Making records such as this publicly available will by default mean that the records about those in power will also be available. That will reduce their power over the public, which is something they will never allow. So either the records of those in power will be removed from what gets published to the public (thus negating Brin's entire point) or the set of records as a whole will be kept under wraps, accessible only to those in power. The latter is much simpler and, in general, grants greater power to those who have it, so that's what will happen.

And no, there's not a damned thing the "little people" can do about it. You can protest it all you want. It won't change a thing, because those in power know that they don't need to listen to the people anymore.

Face it: the entire world is rapidly decending into a totalitarian nightmare, and there won't be any way back out, because the overthrow of totalitarianism requires an outside influence. When the entire world is a police state, there is no outside influence.

Transparent better than non-Transparent (2, Insightful)

RITMaloney (928883) | more than 8 years ago | (#14315780)

That's a great article you linked to. I was just thinking of that the last time I read about this topic. If we're going to have cameras tracking the citizens we should allow all citizens to watch the cameras, not just police.

99% of police, law enforcement officials and judges are honorable people, at least when they enter the profession. The possibility of corruption and injustice, however, is huge. That's why we have open courts in most Western countries. An official's sense of honor and fairness is our first and best line of defense against injustice but it can't be our only. Allowing the public to see how the government treats its citizens can confirm fair justice is being done. While, sites like that take people's personal problems and turn them in to enteraining human misery, are deplorable, perhaps more deplorable is what might happen if all court cases were closed. How would we know if equal justice was occuring? We wouldn't.

I certainly don't want my fellow citizen's watching me drive to work, or go to the grocery store; just as I don't want my fellow citizen's reading about my embarrasing run in with the law. But the only way to prove to the citizenry that I got treated fairly by the courts is to make sure its open to all to see.

I suppose this will have to be the same for CCTV in the future, lest some people are monitored by the police and prosecuted over every infraction, and others are allowed to commit infractions with impunity.

Thomas Jefferson When the people fear their government, there is tyranny; when the government fears the people, there is liberty.

privacy schmivacy (5, Funny)

TheTerrorized (779893) | more than 8 years ago | (#14315616)

It's always refreshing to be reminded that there are still places that hold privacy in lower regard than America. But how long until we follow in Britain's footsteps?

I'm cool with cameras (1, Interesting)

BugsPray (940704) | more than 8 years ago | (#14315618)

In all seriousness, I am fine with having cameras tracking my car (assuming it was adopted in America). The only argument I'd give is that it's against our rights, but I have no personal attachment to the position of my car. In fact, I'd LOVE it a criminal stole my car and was brought down only a few miles away because these cameras were able to quickly identify the position of it. Also, I'd like to insert a cliche: I've got nothing to hide.

Re:I'm cool with cameras (0)

Spacejock (727523) | more than 8 years ago | (#14315734)

And if someone was going to do something naughty, wouldn't they just steal a motorbike capable of 300 km/h instead of a more easily identifible car? Whip off the license place and off you go.

Re the tracking: they're just giving themselves the best chance of investigating something after it actually happened. E.g. the bombings on the underground. If they had data on the movement of the bomber's vehicles (or motorbikes), they could interview everyone the bombers visited in the past year or more. Person of interest A says he doesn't know person of interest B, until the police show him vehicle movements proving his car was parked outside B's place four or five times. Then they move on to B, and gradually uncover the whole network.

If someone uses a false plate it would be discovered the first time a piccy is taken. If it's a duplicate of another vehicle's plate, both vehicles can be tracked. If the colour and/or make of the car doesn't match the rego details, they've got them.

Anyway, if my car's ever nicked I'd be more than happy to have it tracked within minutes. As the parent says, I have nothing to hide.

Re:I'm cool with cameras (5, Insightful)

FireFury03 (653718) | more than 8 years ago | (#14315762)

Also, I'd like to insert a cliche: I've got nothing to hide.

Until you get pulled in by the police on a murder charge because you happened to be near a murder scene...

I keep seeing broad laws being passed with people saying "well it's ok for them to be really broad because noone will ever abuse them" and then they get abused _every time_.

For example: does shouting "nonsense" in a political debate make you a terrorist? The government seem to think so [] . Just days before that happened, the Prime Minister argued that it was ok for the anti-terrorism laws (the same ones used to detain someone for shouting "nonsense") to be so broad because the police would never use them inappropriately.

There are similar examples of abuse of the DMCA, EUCD, PATRIOT Act, etc. I've got nothing to hide either... oh wait, yes I do - I play legally purchased DVDs under Linux and that's illegal.

tracking device? (0, Redundant)

Randall_Jones (849846) | more than 8 years ago | (#14315624)

Can't someone just swap/steal/disable the tracking device?

Maybe the article submitter should read TFA before he submits it? There is no "tracking device", the cameras recognize ordinary license plates.

Re:tracking device? (1)

Colbalt Blue (915568) | more than 8 years ago | (#14315640)

maybe you should realize that TFTD is ordinary license plates.

So much information... (2, Insightful)

majjj (644070) | more than 8 years ago | (#14315634)

On an average around 10 million vehicles will be on the move from the 100 millon they are planning to record.
transfered data rate for 1 vehicle = 300kbps
so for 10 million
data rate = (10000000 * 300) / (1000 * 1000 ) gbps = 3000gbps = 3.65 GB/sec

What kind of network infrastructure do you think is needed ?
I think they are out of their minds to even think of doing this. They can very well have police man on every block running after the vehicals instead.

Re:So much information... (1)

pe1chl (90186) | more than 8 years ago | (#14315652)

Why 300 kbps for 1 vehicle? Must be more like 300 bps...

Re:So much information... (1)

majjj (644070) | more than 8 years ago | (#14315665)

We are talking about video... 256 kbps is a good quality audio. So Its very optimistic to consider a video on a 300kbps (kilo bits per sec) to be even viewable.

Re:So much information... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14315702)

We are talking about license plates. Just run the text recognition software locally, and the transmitted data is around 8 characters every time the car passes a camera. Assuming one camera per minute, that would be 8 bytes per minute + overhead.

Re:So much information... (1)

Burb (620144) | more than 8 years ago | (#14315664)

According to TFA they are expecting about 35 million reads per day. If they are storing (say) seven or eight digits of a numberplate (as opposed to the raw video data) the data requirement might be much smaller than you imply. Mind you, I can't see that 35 million reads per day would be nearly enough to track all the cars in the UK all the time.

Re:So much information... (1)

majjj (644070) | more than 8 years ago | (#14315693)

There is a catch tough. with the number plates... you ought to have the location details as well. Which are changing realt time. This is as well equivalent to tracking any person who is moving. This is gonna be a huge data... may be less then the estimate but this cant be processed real time... so what is the point of collecting such a data.

Re:So much information... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14315681)

I don't know where you've got the 300kbps figure from (it's probably closer to 300bps at best) but assuming it is right: This is a government of a major industrial state. They can easily throw half a billion at the problem - or more - if needed.
Sure it's technically challenging but throw enough money at it, it's easily solvable.

Re:So much information... (1)

BugsPray (940704) | more than 8 years ago | (#14315748)

If the network is microsegmented with multiple dataprocessing units throughout the cities, it would be fairly efficient to deal with that much bandwidth, especially if the dataprocessing units were sending out the results instead of video. Also, I would imagine that bandwidth would be more effectively estimated based on camera numbers, not vehicle numbers.

I've always wondered... (1, Troll)

AtariDatacenter (31657) | more than 8 years ago | (#14315646)

Do we get those fascist ideas from Britian, or do they get them from us? Its like we're in some sort of private competition with them or something.

Re:I've always wondered... (2, Insightful)

montyzooooma (853414) | more than 8 years ago | (#14315688)

They both got them from Orwell.

ccd camera blockers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14315662)

can't find a link, but wasn't there some nifty device constructed recently to sense and then blind CCD imagers? something about using it in movie theaters to stop piracy, etc. I wonder if such a toy could be outfitted to a car to blind the traffic camera's, assuming they're digital.

coincidence - Police woman get shot.... (4, Insightful)

martin (1336) | more than 8 years ago | (#14315663)

This story broke a few days after Pc Beshenivsky was shot and killed in Bradford W Yorkshire, and the police claimed to use new technology to track the get away car. This was the new technology that just happened to be on trial in Bradford and certain areas in London.....


You can always request copes of CCTV (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14315667)

An interesting quirk of UK law is that you can restest a copy of all CCTV footage of you.

Been done for years now (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14315670)

In London's ring of steel and also at ports, been done for years now, they even have it mounted inside police cars. Nothing to see here move along.

the "tracking device" is a license plate. (0, Redundant)

User 956 (568564) | more than 8 years ago | (#14315673)

Can't someone just swap/steal/disable the tracking device? Seems to me just another way to track the average citizen and not those wishing to avoid authorities."

In this case, the "tracking device" is the license plate, which is tracked with a large network of cameras. So the short answer to your first question would be "yes", and the answer to your second question would also be "yes".

If a system like this is used as court evidence... (1)

Prairiewest (719875) | more than 8 years ago | (#14315687)

I read through the article, and I had a deja-vu experience, where Brave New World and Minority Report both came into my thoughts at the same time. Strange.

Anyway, I was thinking that if a system like this was ever successfully used as evidence in court, that would be the tipping point; after that, it would be an all-out hackfest. Lots of people, for a whole host of different reasons, would want to have the ability to "plant" false data in this system, to later be used as evidence against other people that they wanted to frame.

Remind me to take a taxi or bus wherever I go, if this system ever comes to Canada.

Re:If a system like this is used as court evidence (1)

PatrickThomson (712694) | more than 8 years ago | (#14315717)

So yes, you want to break into a system built by competent people, and photoshop the same car into 500 video feeds without detection? 'cause, you know, good luck with that.

Hire cars (5, Informative)

Simon Brooke (45012) | more than 8 years ago | (#14315696)

When a police woman was recently shot dead in Bradford [] , the gang who were responsible had bullied a man into hiring a car in his name [] . The man went to the police before the murder had been committed, but the police just filed his complaint and didn't link it to the murder until too late.

The car was tracked on the camera network (it already partly works), but as it had been hired in his name the police arrested him instead of hunting down the gang.

As this network becomes more widely known, this is going to become more common - gangs will bully and blackmail people with no criminal record into hiring cars, and may even, to prevent them going to the policeabduct or kill them.

And, of course, criminals will habitually carry several sets of false number plates, so that they can change the 'identity' of their vehicle several times in the course of a journey.

how soon? (1)

manojar (875389) | more than 8 years ago | (#14315699)

England has come up with a lot of things that have been copied and implemented everywhere - experiments with anarchy, revolutions, modern armed forces, postal system, police system, metros, special forces, mixed economy, wearing flags as underwear, etc. how soon does the rest of the world catch this?

Already happening in Bath (1)

Inda (580031) | more than 8 years ago | (#14315700)

In Bath, in the South West of England [] , they are already using a system like this. 30+ cameras read your number plate as you drive around the city. A computer checks your number plate against a database and if you have no insurance, MOT or tax, a policeman on a motorbike is dispatched and you are pulled over for a game of twenty questions.

Having been caught myself once for having no MOT, I am pleased about this new system. The government suggests there are 1 in 10 drivers drive who illegally in the UK. I thought I could get away with it as the odds of getting away with it seemed good. Maybe everyone will pay their way now.

The theft of number plates is likely to rise as a result of this new system. Using stolen number plates for stealing petrol and avoiding congestion charges is already on the up.

How the hell... (1)

kadathseeker (937789) | more than 8 years ago | (#14315709)

are these thousands of cameras going to be monitored? Is this part of the national healthcare plan for dealing with the disabled, just hire them as "security personnel" and have them watch TV all day until something explodes? I could totally do that job, if I had a laptop and a good wifi connection...

Easy for criminals to avoid (1)

terrencefw (605681) | more than 8 years ago | (#14315728)

operation designed to drive criminals off the road.

Errr, I think they meant operation designed to make criminals steal more cars.

Highly insightful (1)

mcrbids (148650) | more than 8 years ago | (#14315756)

Everytime one of these "big brother" posts hits slashdot, I provide a link to perhaps the single most insightful article I've seen [] on this subject: the "Transparent Society".

Written some 10 years ago, it laid out, for the first time, the actual problem with the non-private, cameras-are-everywhere society, and what we, as people can and should demand to keep the powers in check.

If you've not read this seminal work, I strongly recommend that you do so!

This is not about crime. (2, Interesting)

SaleNowOn (846913) | more than 8 years ago | (#14315758)

Criminals use the train/Bus network for their nefarious activities and have done for years.

The government have been building this database for several years now. Its illegal to own a car and not have it taxed even if its off the road. (it is free if you declare it off road). They now have a pretty much complete database of every vehicle in the UK. the owners details and insurance, tax status and the ability to read from the number plates.

Which is complete overkill to catch a few tax dodgers.

So donning my tin-foil hat...

This is actually about road-tolls. I think the government realised some time back that GPS tracking would never work. however set these bad boys up and down the major roads of Great Britain and you've instantly got a shiny new tax revenue system. I truly hope I'm wrong on this but I can't any other reason why the government would have spent what must have been a huge amount of cash to get this system to work.

It is already live (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 8 years ago | (#14315776)

Sorry it is already live and working.
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