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Vast Surveillance Network Powered By Repo Men

Soulskill posted about 9 months ago | from the crowdsourced-eyes-and-ears dept.

Transportation 352

v3rgEz writes "Even as some police departments curtail their use of license plate scanning technology over privacy concerns, private companies have been amassing a much larger, almost completely unregulated database that pulls in billions of scans a year, marking the exact time and location of millions of vehicles across America. The database, which is often offered to law enforcement for free, is collected by repo and towing companies eager to tap easy revenue, while the database companies then resell that data, often for as little as $25 for a plate's complete recorded history."

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Shazbot! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46411227)

what else is new

Re:Shazbot! (4, Insightful)

ackthpt (218170) | about 9 months ago | (#46411455)

what else is new

Well, in this case it's some capitalists taking advantage of a business opportunity to spy on you. What bothers me is I don't recall signing any sort of release on this, when someone wants to look where I've been driving my car.

Which is worse, the government spying on you or business, which then sells the info, perhaps to someone who could be interested in robbing you or kidnapping your child, and using this sort of information as a resource?

Re:Shazbot! (5, Insightful)

jimbolauski (882977) | about 9 months ago | (#46411673)

Well, in this case it's some capitalists taking advantage of a business opportunity to spy on you. What bothers me is I don't recall signing any sort of release on this, when someone wants to look where I've been driving my car.

You don't have to sign a release to be recorded in public as you have no expectation of privacy. Unless a law is passed making it illegal use public images to track an individual or vehicle there is nothing to stop this sort of thing.

Re:Shazbot! (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46411747)

If the US would get their head out of their asses and realize there needs to be things like privacy laws which dictate what information companies can collect and for what purposes, this would not be an issue.

Right now in the US, anything which restricts corporations right to act like douchebags, and collect and sell your personal information is unrestricted.

And any republican or libertarian who tells you this is fine is a sack of shit.

Re:Shazbot! (2)

Charliemopps (1157495) | about 9 months ago | (#46411749)

There's a difference between someone using their camcorder to video tape you, and a person following you everywhere you go with multiple cameras.

Re:Shazbot! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46411779)

Well, if they're going to do that, I want some theme music [youtube.com] .

Re:Shazbot! (1)

NatasRevol (731260) | about 9 months ago | (#46411863)

Not legally.

Re:Shazbot! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46411911)

There's a difference between someone using their camcorder to video tape you, and a person following you everywhere you go with multiple cameras.

You may *wish* these two cases were different, but no existing law makes the distinction.

Re:Shazbot! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46412069)

There's a difference between someone using their camcorder to video tape you, and a person following you everywhere you go with multiple cameras.

You may *wish* these two cases were different, but no existing law makes the distinction.

I'd argue otherwise.

Since they sell to the government, they're acting as an arm of the government, and therefore bound by restrictions placed on government agencies trying to do the same thing.

Which is strictly limited.

Or it's supposed to be, anyway. Given the way IRS leadership takes the Fifth when having to testify, it probably doesn't really matter....

Re:Shazbot! (1)

BaronAaron (658646) | about 9 months ago | (#46411941)

Sounds like the case celebs use against paparazzi.

I don't so mind being photographed (or my property automatically scanned) in public but what I do mind is people making a profit on it.

I want the data brokers and/or repo companies to cut me a check every-time a database with my information is used to make money.

Re:Shazbot! (1)

jimbolauski (882977) | about 9 months ago | (#46411947)

Legally there is not and trying to separate the two without stepping on 1st amendment rights would be next to impossible. Also note that the cameras are simply mounted near intersections or other busy areas and plate numbers are extracted. There is no way to differentiate recording at intersections and a gas station on the corner having security cameras, the only way is to make tracking information of a person or their property the property of that person then it can only be released by that person.

Re:Shazbot! (1)

DaveV1.0 (203135) | about 9 months ago | (#46412025)

a person following you everywhere you go with multiple cameras.

But, that is not what they are doing.

They are driving through parking lots taking pictures of license plates, then OCRing the images and storing the location and plate information in a database.

If you don't like someone taking a picture of your car, don't park your car in a public place where a picture can be taken of it. If you don't want someone taking a picture of your license plate, figure out a way to obscure it while parked.

Re: Shazbot! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46412097)

Retard. This happens both when you are driving (in motion), stopped in traffic, and parked on street or drive way. ANYwhere. Anyone with a cam can upload footage to be ocr'ed.

Re:Shazbot! (1)

jhol13 (1087781) | about 9 months ago | (#46412071)

Thank (all the gods), this kind of thing is illegal in Finland. And most likely in the EU too.

Re:Shazbot! (4, Insightful)

FuzzNugget (2840687) | about 9 months ago | (#46412219)

Goddammit, this shit needs to stop NOW.

We need to establish the understanding that there is a significant distinction between OBSERVING and RECORDING.

Yes, it is reasonable to say that you shouldn't expect privacy in a public setting, but this has historically been in the context of observation, not recording. The ubiquity and accessibility of modern recording devices completely alters the dynamic. Observation forgets, relinquishes and carries with it an element of humanity. Recording is cold, factual and unforgiving. This can be useful for some things (court proceedings, for example), but not everything; probably not most things.

No, you shouldn't expect privacy from individuals or the press. Yes, should be able to expect privacy from government and businesses who make recordings to be used against you.

Context is everything.

Re:Shazbot! (1)

bobbied (2522392) | about 9 months ago | (#46411729)

what else is new

What bothers me is I don't recall signing any sort of release on this

No need for you to agree to this. On a public street they are free to collect information. So scanning your license plate and recording the location and time can happen without your knowledge or consent. They can then sell this information to whomever they want. If you don't like it, stay home.

What I find amazing is there is a large segment of the population who will get up in arms over this kind of collection, dig out their pitchforks and storm the castle, but will willingly post GEO tagged photos online to document their "privacy" protest activities. These same people will run Google maps, Wayze or other applications on their smartphone to navigate their way to the protest, then do the same to find someplace to eat, while cranking up the coupon application to find a deal on the sandwich they are hungry for. These folks don't think twice about their privacy in any other context.

Re:Shazbot! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46412015)

They can then sell this information to whomever they want. If you don't like it, stay home.

That is BS.

If it was legal to murder people you would be saying "Well change the law" and is total BS.
If it was legal to rape you would be saying "well change the law" and is total BS.

Just because something is not stopped, does not make it OK, moral, acceptable, or even accepted.

Just because a thief gets away does not make it OK.

Re:Shazbot! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46412107)

I don't have a right to go kill people, but getting killed is a major issue for the victim, so it is illegal. I'm supposed to have a right to free speech, including telling someone what license plate(s) I saw in a parking lot. You'll have to chose which right to infringe upon: privacy or speech. It isn't going to help that the right to privacy is considered waved in public...

Re:Shazbot! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46412139)

Yes, I know, waived, not waved.

Re:Shazbot! (1)

egcagrac0 (1410377) | about 9 months ago | (#46412185)

So, you're saying it's immoral, unacceptable, or unaccepted for me to recognize John's car parked out front of the office, and then (if asked) to say "I think he's here today, I saw his car out front in the public parking lot..."?

I think what you're calling for is a fundamental change to the constitution to recognize an intrinsic right to privacy in public.

Re:Shazbot! (1)

Skater (41976) | about 9 months ago | (#46412217)

What I find amazing is there is a large segment of the population who will get up in arms over this kind of collection, dig out their pitchforks and storm the castle, but will willingly post GEO tagged photos online to document their "privacy" protest activities. These same people will run Google maps, Wayze or other applications on their smartphone to navigate their way to the protest, then do the same to find someplace to eat, while cranking up the coupon application to find a deal on the sandwich they are hungry for. These folks don't think twice about their privacy in any other context.

You don't see the difference? Google Maps, Waze, etc. provide a useful service to the user in return for that information. Repo camera databases don't.

Re:Shazbot! (1)

Charliemopps (1157495) | about 9 months ago | (#46411737)

The government. Definitely the government.

Last I checked, robbers and kidnappers weren't using drones to send hellfire missiles into American Citizens homes without judicial review.

Re:Shazbot! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46411943)

Last I checked, The Gubment isn't using drones to send hellfire missiles into American Citizen's homes without Judicial Review. They do enough wrong, no need for tin-foil hat hyperbole. The Gubment kills combatants in semi-declared war authorized by the Congress when it gave W the power to kill "Terror" wherever it makes Haliburton money. In war there is no Judicial Review.

Re:Shazbot! (1)

icebike (68054) | about 9 months ago | (#46411917)

. What bothers me is I don't recall signing any sort of release on this, when someone wants to look where I've been driving my car.

Wait? You actually believe this story?
You've seen one of these so called scanner-cars driving the parking lots?

There simply aren't enough repo men in business to warrant this, and those defaulting on car loans are well known to the banks, they could just go to the house the deadbeat lives in, where they work, or report the vehicle as stolen and let the police handle it.

I'm calling bs on the the entire thing, probably a ploy to drum up scanner sales. Pictures or it doesn't happen.
 

Wow! That was intense! (4, Funny)

MightyMartian (840721) | about 9 months ago | (#46411229)

The life of a repo man is always intense.

Data (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46411271)

It's what's for bre'fas'.

Consumer debt. (2)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46411397)

I was talking with a bunch of folks recently, and I pointed out that consumer debt is relatively new. Sure there were layaway plans and credit with an individual store - your tab, but this huge industry that throws money out left and right to basically make us slaves.

I think many of our societies problems can go back to consumer debt: these invasions of privacy, college costs going through the roof, this treadmill of consumerism: cars, electronics, luxury goods.

All in all, things were a bit better when credit wasn't so easily available.

Before Henry Ford started financing his cars, folks had to have the cash; which made cars a luxury item. And most people had to take public transportation - which was viable because few people had cars. And of course, we wouldn't need all this oil if we didn't have so many cars.

When you sit down and think about it, consumer credit has really distorted our economy. We all have lost the need and desire to save.

Re:Consumer debt. (2, Insightful)

ackthpt (218170) | about 9 months ago | (#46411495)

Before financing, people had large bank balances in this account type (I swear I amd not making this up) called 'Savings'. Banks actually paid people interest, rather than collecting it on all their debt. The banks borrowed from depositors for loans rather than borrowing from the Federal Reserve for nearly free.

The concept of this makes the mind reel. I may have to take out a loan and buy myself some aspirin.

Re:Consumer debt. (3, Insightful)

Timothy Hartman (2905293) | about 9 months ago | (#46411667)

With the low low interest rates you would be a fool not to refinance your house and take out a home equity loan to purchase said aspirin.

Re:Consumer debt. (3, Insightful)

EasyComputer (797633) | about 9 months ago | (#46411839)

The above post was modded down, but I think it makes a valid point. Consumer Debt, creates an artificial "abundance" which plays into a common weakness of human beings. "If I have excess let me use it" We all know that we are in debt, but because the repayment of debt is not immediate, extra funds are used to buy luxury items instead of being used to pay down debt faster. The guy below said it much better.

I was talking with a bunch of folks recently, and I pointed out that consumer debt is relatively new. Sure there were layaway plans and credit with an individual store - your tab, but this huge industry that throws money out left and right to basically make us slaves.

I think many of our societies problems can go back to consumer debt: these invasions of privacy, college costs going through the roof, this treadmill of consumerism: cars, electronics, luxury goods.

All in all, things were a bit better when credit wasn't so easily available.

Before Henry Ford started financing his cars, folks had to have the cash; which made cars a luxury item. And most people had to take public transportation - which was viable because few people had cars. And of course, we wouldn't need all this oil if we didn't have so many cars.

When you sit down and think about it, consumer credit has really distorted our economy. We all have lost the need and desire to save.

Re:Wow! That was intense! (3, Funny)

dagrichards (1281436) | about 9 months ago | (#46411423)

Lets go do some crimes.

Re:Wow! That was intense! (4, Funny)

Chris Mattern (191822) | about 9 months ago | (#46412019)

Yeah. Let's go get sushi and not pay.

Re:Wow! That was intense! (3, Funny)

retchdog (1319261) | about 9 months ago | (#46412023)

Look at those assholes. Ordinary fucking people. I hate 'em.

readproofing (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46411235)

Need to readproof better "curtail their sue of license plate"

I've experienced it (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46411279)

Yup, my SIL got picked off this way. Aparently there are cars that drive through neighborhood recording license plates, and when a license plate matches one that a repo man is looking for, the location is sent forward. She thought she was scot-free because she was living with her BF, but the car got towed anyway. Should have paid her bill...

Re:I've experienced it (1)

spikestabber (644578) | about 9 months ago | (#46411379)

Probably Google streetview cars. Google blanks out plates, obviously not without storing them numerically first.

Re:I've experienced it (1)

EvilSS (557649) | about 9 months ago | (#46411793)

Probably Google streetview cars. Google blanks out plates, obviously not without storing them numerically first.

Streetview cars don't travel the same routes often enough to be useful for this. They don't hit the same streets over and over in a short time period. These are tow truck operators and repo men running dedicated scanner hardware. Since they operate in the same general areas each day, they can hit the same locations on an ongoing basis, building up multiple datapoints for the same tags.

Re:I've experienced it (1)

bobbied (2522392) | about 9 months ago | (#46411821)

Heck no. Repo guys (and gals) don't need data from Google, it's much too old by the time Google processes it anyway. They just drive down likely streets, searching for "hot" plates when nothing else is going on. Usually they do a bit of investigating too, people generally have limited number of locations they frequent, just ask around some and you can find out where these are. Otherwise, just canvas likely neighborhoods at night. Parking authorities do the same thing within their jurisdiction, canvasing neighborhoods running plates. I've seen it on "Parking Wars" where tow trucks in Philadelphia tow cars that owe parking fines after finding it parked on the street.

Is there an end to this? (1)

invictusvoyd (3546069) | about 9 months ago | (#46411297)

Or are we all eventually going to end up in some "Orwellian 1984" kinda thing. i.e. Are we gonna have RFID's surgically plugged into us by police states .

Re:Is there an end to this? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46411355)

We should have RFID incorporated into our license plates so that these scans can be done more efficiently and without optical recognition required. Myriad uses, including monitoring of parking lots a and capacities, sporting events, airports / train stations, toll collection, law enforcement.

Re:Is there an end to this? (1)

WaffleMonster (969671) | about 9 months ago | (#46411869)

We should have RFID incorporated into our license plates so that these scans can be done more efficiently and without optical recognition required.

Its called "tire pressure monitoring" not to be confused with "trusted platform module" and sports a much better range than any RFID I know of.

Re:Is there an end to this? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46412005)

Does TPMS have a longer range than reflected light?

Re:Is there an end to this? (1)

egcagrac0 (1410377) | about 9 months ago | (#46412267)

RF doesn't always need line of sight to be effective. Don't need the cars to park at least 3 feet apart to get a good glimpse of the tag from the side as driving by.

Re:Is there an end to this? (1)

gstoddart (321705) | about 9 months ago | (#46411395)

Or are we all eventually going to end up in some "Orwellian 1984" kinda thing

Eventually? We're already well on our way.

Companies are collecting everything they possibly can about you, are under no regulations about doing so or what they do with it, and then are selling it for profit. School boards are tracking everything about students (with no chance to opt out) via private companies who then own that data and can do the same thing. Insurance companies are cross referencing everything about your life and medical information.

Combine that with governments being able to access this data merely because it exists, and I would say anyone born in the new few years stands a good chance of their entire lives being fully documented, and for the rest of us, pretty much most everything going forward is already there.

Throw in facial recognition and whatever else is out there I've missed, and it feels like we're most of the way there.

Re:Is there an end to this? (1)

LordLimecat (1103839) | about 9 months ago | (#46411427)

Maybe people need to realize that when you are in public, no amount of legislation is going to change how trivial snapping a picture is.

Technology has changed and created new capabilities, but license plates have NEVER been private. Dont have to like it to accept it.

Re:Is there an end to this? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46411557)

"typically $200 to $400 every time the spotter finds a vehicle that’s stolen or in default"

Seems like a quick way to subsidize your Google Glass.

Re:Is there an end to this? (1)

Ichijo (607641) | about 9 months ago | (#46411563)

It's pretty easy to avoid being tracked by this technology if you've chosen to live and work where you have more than one feasible way of getting around. It's tragic the amount of faith people have that freeways will forever remain unpriced and that gasoline will always be cheap.

Re:Is there an end to this? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46411627)

Perhaps the whole premise of license plates needs to be re-examined, then.

Re:Is there an end to this? (1)

Cyrano de Maniac (60961) | about 9 months ago | (#46412261)

I certainly hope not.

My sister's car was damaged when an SUV rear-ended me as I was stopped at a traffic light. The driver of the SUV did stop, but refused to identify herself and provide insurance information. I could tell by the driver's actions that she was about to flee, and quickly noted her license plate number, and sure enough she fled while I pleaded with her to reconsider what she was about to do.

It took about a month longer than it should have, but eventually the machinery of justice caught up with the driver, and my sister was made whole for her financial loss. If it hadn't been for a clear and visible license plate it is doubtful that any compensation would have ever been recovered.

Re:Is there an end to this? (1)

ultranova (717540) | about 9 months ago | (#46411709)

Maybe people need to realize that when you are in public, no amount of legislation is going to change how trivial snapping a picture is.

Growing marijuana is trivial, far more so than setting up giant license plate databases, but that hasn't stopped the state from trying to stomp the practice out. That pot growers go to jail yet stalkers walk free reflects society's ethics, not physical reality. And that reflection looks more and more like East Germany every day.

Re:Is there an end to this? (1)

Billly Gates (198444) | about 9 months ago | (#46411775)

Or simply pay your bills or do not take out more than you can pay in case of a job loss.

Re:Is there an end to this? (1)

rogoshen1 (2922505) | about 9 months ago | (#46411883)

true, snapping a photo will forever be simple. but the goal should be to remove the incentive to actually do this. hopefully once the big-data bubble bursts, or if the economics of advertising continues the race to the bottom it's in, companies won't feel the need to monetize us like a herd of cattle. (i can dream, right?)

Re:Is there an end to this? (1)

WaffleMonster (969671) | about 9 months ago | (#46412055)

Technology has changed and created new capabilities, but license plates have NEVER been private. Dont have to like it to accept it.

Fundamentally isn't there a difference between something done in public and how record of that information is used and collected? Theoretically the US government is not allowed to aggregate data and create dossiers on everyone even if it is done using data stored entirely in existing government databases.

Couldn't you stalk someone entirely in public and still go to jail for stalking? If you overhear a private radio conversation you can be liable for using information gained from the private conversation.

Just because something occurring in public is not private does I don't think it necessarily follows those being constantly spied on and tracked for monetary gain or worse have no recourse.

We may create the "Orwellian" thing ... (1)

perpenso (1613749) | about 9 months ago | (#46411559)

Or are we all eventually going to end up in some "Orwellian 1984" kinda thing. i.e. Are we gonna have RFID's surgically plugged into us by police states .

You are missing the point, its not the government, its private individuals doing the data acquisition.

Move the camera from the car to glasses, and have the private individual walking through a crowd recording faces, for some commercial reason, rather than driving around recording license plates. Now add private individuals acting as "video vigilantes" recording anything they think suspicious or wrong.

An Orwellian thing may occur simply through our lack of courtesy, a lack of respect for someone else's privacy. Government involvement may not be necessary.

Re:We may create the "Orwellian" thing ... (1)

rogoshen1 (2922505) | about 9 months ago | (#46411913)

yeah, maybe bail bondsmen will do the same thing to find fugitives ? =/

Re:We may create the "Orwellian" thing ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46412063)

You are missing the point, its not the government, its private individuals doing the data acquisition.

An Orwellian thing may occur simply through our lack of courtesy, a lack of respect for someone else's privacy. Government involvement may not be necessary.

True. I find it hard to believe:

Even as some police departments curtail their use of license plate scanning technology over privacy concerns

and

The database, which is often offered to law enforcement for free

are a coincidence. Who's to say law enforcement is not intentionally outsourcing this task over to private companies, so that they can get more data without any trouble?

The alternative theory, a law enforcement agency willingly gave up power without being forced to, is just not believable.

Re:Is there an end to this? (2)

Sarten-X (1102295) | about 9 months ago | (#46411733)

The horror of 1984 is the oppressive government's literal mind control. Expertise in psychology was used to manipulate the population into ever-deepening submission. Surveillance was just supposedly how the government found dissidents... though I don't actually recall any instances of surveillance being successfully used. Rather, from what I remember of the book, a good old-fashioned informant was more successful.

Surveillance is just a widespread gathering of information. What we ultimately do with that information may be good or bad, but the facts alone are neutral. Information wants to be free and all that.

That would be so freakishly illegal ... (2, Insightful)

Ihlosi (895663) | about 9 months ago | (#46411337)

... in any modern, developed country.

Oh wait ...

Re:That would be so freakishly illegal ... (5, Insightful)

LordLimecat (1103839) | about 9 months ago | (#46411479)

Takking a photo in public should be freakishly illegal in a "modern, developed country"?

I thought we got up in arms when the government stopped us from photographing public buildings, and you want to make it possible to sue private citizens taking photos in public? What sort of statist, authoritarian nightmare constitutes "modern" in your world?

Re:That would be so freakishly illegal ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46411565)

No need to have the same rules for private citizens, for example it's legal for citizens to operate drones, companies not so much.

Re:That would be so freakishly illegal ... (1)

bobbied (2522392) | about 9 months ago | (#46411949)

No need to have the same rules for private citizens, for example it's legal for citizens to operate drones, companies not so much.

So, say I'm a private citizen on a public street, may I take a picture of a passing car? Can I sell that picture? Yes and Yes.

Can I not process that picture by doing an OCR scan of the license plate? Sure Why not?

Can I then assemble this license plate number with meta-data like where and when the picture was taken? Again, Sure.

Can I sell this information to somebody? I don't see why not. I can even do this a lot and create a database of many observations made on the public street and sell all the information to somebody.

Finally, how's it different for a private person to do this and a company? I contend that it is NOT different.

Re:That would be so freakishly illegal ... (1)

sjames (1099) | about 9 months ago | (#46411785)

The taking a picture part isn't the problem. The problem happens when you collate all those pictures and index them such that it becomes more stalker like in nature.

Re:That would be so freakishly illegal ... (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46411977)

The taking a picture part isn't the problem. The problem happens when you collate all those pictures and index them such that it becomes more stalker like in nature.

So you want to ban computers using information in ways you don't like? Good luck enforcing that.

Re:That would be so freakishly illegal ... (1)

AmiMoJo (196126) | about 9 months ago | (#46412121)

We should start building our own database. Cameras pointed at public roads, with say a Raspberry Pi or similar low cost low power computer to do number plate recognition. Upload data to a central database. Obviously it would only be used to track public vehicles, such as local government utility vans, police cars, ambulances etc. Tracking private vehicles would be a gross violation of privacy.

Re:That would be so freakishly illegal ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46411519)

Why? According to which law?

Re:That would be so freakishly illegal ... (1)

WaffleMonster (969671) | about 9 months ago | (#46411967)

Why? According to which law?

Anti-stalking laws?

Re:That would be so freakishly illegal ... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46411579)

... in any modern, developed country.

Not if Google has any say

Re:That would be so freakishly illegal ... (1)

ClintJCL (264898) | about 9 months ago | (#46411761)

What? Any developed country lets me observe what is in public and report on it. That's basically what journalism is, activity-wise.

Re:That would be so freakishly illegal ... (1)

ewieling (90662) | about 9 months ago | (#46411893)

You are welcome to observe what goes on in public and report on it. What I don't want you to do is drive around an automated license plate reader and sell the data.

Re:That would be so freakishly illegal ... (1)

ClintJCL (264898) | about 9 months ago | (#46411995)

By that logic, I shouldn't be able to sell a picture taken in public because it has peoples' faces in them.

Sorry, no one gets to control the flow of information they themselves introduced to the public. Sorry, that's not how things can or should or do work.

Re:That would be so freakishly illegal ... (1)

DaveV1.0 (203135) | about 9 months ago | (#46412043)

So, you only want people to take pictures you like or use pictures in a way you don't like and every use you don't agree with should be illegal.

Need a better word than Orwell (1)

gurps_npc (621217) | about 9 months ago | (#46411443)

Honestly, it is not so much the government snooping that scares me as the private snooping does.

The government can't afford to spy on us, but the corporations make money doing it. So they can afford to do it more.

Re:Need a better word than Orwell (1)

gstoddart (321705) | about 9 months ago | (#46411499)

And then the government can demand the data they don't have the resources to collect on their own.

So, take your pick ... is it an Orwellian world in which government sees and controls everything, or is it a Cyberpunk dystopia where the corporations do?

Re:Need a better word than Orwell (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46411587)

Posting anonymously as I already moderated. I think this is a distinction without a difference. Government and corporations are so deeply in bed I can't tell one end of the 2-backed monster from the other. Nuke it from orbit...

Re:Need a better word than Orwell (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46411753)

or is it a Cyberpunk dystopia where the corporations do?

I vote for the Cyberpunk dystopia. Much cooler technology, and there's always work in the secteam industry.

Re:Need a better word than Orwell (1)

RabidReindeer (2625839) | about 9 months ago | (#46411533)

Honestly, it is not so much the government snooping that scares me as the private snooping does.

The government can't afford to spy on us, but the corporations make money doing it. So they can afford to do it more.

Being able to afford something never stopped governments.

Surprised? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46411447)

Don't act like regulating it would change anything.. It never does.

OLD News (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46411489)

Yes, the cameras on the highway and red light cameras, etc are not owned by the county or state. They are owned by private company's and they own the data. They turn over red light runner snapshots for a fee to the county etc.

No worries, will be banned soon. (1)

pepty (1976012) | about 9 months ago | (#46411545)

Why?

Politician runs for office in district A. To meet the residency requirements he claims he lives in his Mom's spare room in District A. License plate scans reveal his car lives in District B - in the parking lot for his mistress's condo.

Re:No worries, will be banned soon. (2)

EMG at MU (1194965) | about 9 months ago | (#46411609)

Well realistically the company would offer to "delete" those records in exchange for tax breaks or cash.

Needs oversight (2)

wcrowe (94389) | about 9 months ago | (#46411567)

The major problems I see with this is there is no oversight. How accurate are the readers? How accurate are the databases? What recourse is there when they make a mistake? That sort of thing. Without oversight there is vast potential for abuse. The various companies involved need to be licensed and regulated. There needs to be PCI-like compliance for their databases and equipment.

There are lots of other questions here. Parking lots are by and large on private property. These drivers with the scanners are utilizing the private property for profit. I mean, I can't just set up a booth in Walmart's parking lot and start selling stuff. I would need their permission, for starters, and they would probably want a lease, proof of insurance, etc, etc.

My worry is that my car will be mistaken for another car on a repo list and towed somewhere. Then it becomes a legal nighmare getting it back, with no prospect for compensation or damages.

Re:Needs oversight (1)

Billly Gates (198444) | about 9 months ago | (#46411731)

In all fairness it is private but open to the public like a McDonalds. Yes someone has every right to take back something that doesn't belong to you. If you owe money the car is not YOURS.

They check the VIN number before towing due to lawsuits and the bank checks the license plates during processing work when they register the licensing fees back to them or the used car dealership it ends up on.

It sounds evil and messed up and scary if you are in a bad situation with someone trying to take what you think is yours and a tool to get a job. But sadly if repos didn't happen you wouldn't be able to use your car you have now. You would be driving a used beater for a much more expensive price as it would be cash only.

Re:Needs oversight (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46411795)

The major problems I see with this is there is no oversight. How accurate are the readers? How accurate are the databases? What recourse is there when they make a mistake? That sort of thing. Without oversight there is vast potential for abuse. The various companies involved need to be licensed and regulated. There needs to be PCI-like compliance for their databases and equipment.

There are lots of other questions here. Parking lots are by and large on private property. These drivers with the scanners are utilizing the private property for profit. I mean, I can't just set up a booth in Walmart's parking lot and start selling stuff. I would need their permission, for starters, and they would probably want a lease, proof of insurance, etc, etc.

huh? I now need Walmart's permission and my vision/brain scanned and tested for compliance before I remember things I have seen now?

My worry is that my car will be mistaken for another car on a repo list and towed somewhere. Then it becomes a legal nighmare getting it back, with no prospect for compensation or damages.

I think you are missing the entire point. They are not taking anything but pictures. If they took your shit by mistake its theft.

Re:Needs oversight (2)

bobbied (2522392) | about 9 months ago | (#46412029)

The major problems I see with this is there is no oversight. How accurate are the readers? How accurate are the databases? What recourse is there when they make a mistake? That sort of thing.

This is NOT a problem. The accuracy of the collection or the data is of no real concern, except to the one buying the information or the entity compiling it. If a company compiling this information makes a mistake, they will have an unhappy customer who will be less likely to come back and pay them again.

I don't see how any other party would be harmed by the inaccuracy of the data beyond the buyer and seller of it.

Re:Needs oversight (1)

jklovanc (1603149) | about 9 months ago | (#46412113)

My worry is that my car will be mistaken for another car on a repo list and towed somewhere.

That would only happen if the tow driver made the same mistake as the scanner. When the scanner pops up the record for the repo and the plates don't match the driver will not take the vehicle.

Re:Needs oversight (1)

SwingKing (1372789) | about 9 months ago | (#46412209)

I agree and disagree. I don't see oversight is needed for the Repo case, because unless they're using Google's new automated towing service (TM) there will be people in the loop. The tow truck driver will need to confirm the plate directly or he's (theoretically) committing a crime by stealing your car.

Where I have a problem with this is when law enforcement starts using the historical data in the database as direct proof. The government shouldn't be allowed to say "Based on information provided by XYZ Tracking, your car was in the McDonalds parking lot when it was robbed so you must have committed the crime" without some validity checking. Something like archiving all the scanned photos with embedded date/location info for X months. Of course the gov't would have to pay for all that data retention, but that's the only way to combat the inevitable errors in these huge databases.

The solution (5, Insightful)

Registered Coward v2 (447531) | about 9 months ago | (#46411583)

Open sources scanner software that works with a cheap USB camera and license plate wiki - that stores every scanned tag with number and state data. How fast do you think it would take legislators to decide it was a bad idea and outlaw scanners? Probably a few seconds after one of their own gets asked some embarrassing questions. The best way to fight such privacy threats is to embrace and extend their use to those in power.

Re:The solution (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46411711)

Now imagine the kind of data you could gather with an open database like this, company executives meeting with other companies they haven't met before, tracking where cars typically go and be able to find when a house is empty.
For a few bucks you could set it up on a small battery and leave it in a neighborhood to monitor for the best times people enter and leave.

so, lets get everybody doing this, and compile as much data on as many big names as we can and see what kind information and details we can find about them or anybody and see how long it lasts.

Re:The solution (2)

PPH (736903) | about 9 months ago | (#46411865)

company executives meeting with other companies they haven't met before

Limo service. Good for covert meetings, shuffling mistresses around town, picking up cocaine for this weekends party. Been used for years.

Nothing new here... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46411835)

This has been the case for YEARS.

All public records are available to the 'public'; which includes businesses. Tax collectors, driver's licenses, public controlled/regulated utilities, marriage records, property sales, civil and criminal court records (not bench sealed).

Member of my family was a repo man. Didn't even carry a cellphone, but he paid his $25/year to access electric bills. Easy money.

What's a repo man? (0)

Blaskowicz (634489) | about 9 months ago | (#46411843)

I've never heard or read of a repo man, though I do know what's a DMV or an interstate. I only know of software repos in linux distributions.
Is that about the place that your car is towed to upon request by the cops, and then you get to there and pay through the nose to get your car back?

Re:What's a repo man? (0)

Blaskowicz (634489) | about 9 months ago | (#46411907)

Oh, repossesion. That has made me have a peak at TFA.

Private vs. public... (1)

jasno (124830) | about 9 months ago | (#46411857)

I have no problem with a private individual or company doing this.

I have a big problem with the government, who has the ability to deprive me of my posessions, my freedom, and my life, being able to do this.

I wonder how else a private company can work with the government to get around restrictions placed on the government?

NSA front companies (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46411867)

The NSA and CIA run vast networks across the globe using tens of thousands of 'civilian' fronts, or paid for departments within otherwise 'legitimate' companies and/or organisations. The NSA and CIA have a yearly budget that exceeds one hundred billion dollars for these operations.

If a given operation gets 'exposed', plausible deniability kicks in. Just look how the owners of Slashdot, and the usual mainstream media outlets are spinning this story.

Now you should know that NSA fronts frequently break the law in ways both small and big. Bribery for the purposes of winning contracts is highly 'illegal' in the USA, but EVERY major American defence contractor uses bribery on a scale that dwarfs such activity at the time when such scandals forced US law-makers to act. There is the law, as seen by sheeple, and there is the real way in which those that control a nation operate.

In the UK, is is commonplace for a new experimental form of GCHQ spying to be disguised as the activity of a 'rogue' advertising or PR company. In the USA, the pattern is different- the NSA and CIA prefer NGOs and charitable foundations, like those run by Bill Gates. Gates and Rupert "Fox News" Murdoch- deadly enemies of the far opposite extremes of the political spectrum as far as the betas are groomed to believe, partnered their two empires to create the inBloom database that extends full surveillance into EVERY aspect of every child's life in the USA.

Every ultimate police-state has but one ambition- to perfectly groom the sheeple from birth, so the police state is nothing bu 'normality' to the sheeple by the time they reach adulthood. Bill Gates and Rupert Murdoch understand this perfectly. In the State of New York, for instance, it has been declared ILLEGAL for any parent to attempt to keep their child off the 'inBloom' database.

Repo-companies are close cousins to the merc operations of obscenities like BLACKWATER (Xe). Blackwater is Obama's private militia- providing, for instance, the sniper death squads that created civil strife in Syria and the Ukraine, by murdering both protesters and government law enforcement personnel. Many high-ranking mercs, when they no longer wish to be directly raping, torturing and murdering Humans in America's target nations, form 'security' companies in the USA. They specialise in 'investigations' (illegal intelligence gathering) and 'recovery' (extra-legal removal of possessions). If, as individuals, they go 'too far', they can safely be disowned. But in the mean time, their networks can grow like cancers throughout US society, all feeding back to their NSA handlers.

What can US citizens do about these atrocities. Well, only ONE thing. Demand new additions to the US Constitution that formally recognise the Right to Privacy, and freedom from all forms of 'full surveillance' by government or proxy-government organisations. A REQUIREMENT for all forms of US law enforcement to be targeted, and NEVER on the basis of 'guilty until proven innocent'.

Bill Gates' 'Common Core', 'inBloom' and NSA Xbox One Kinect 2 spying initiatives should be illegal under fundamental US laws. The ability of fake-civilian operations to create secondary networks of NSA spying across the USA should be illegal under fundamental US laws.

We Need Legal Countermeasures (4, Interesting)

Jade_Butterfly (3564465) | about 9 months ago | (#46411921)

I don't think we need regulations that prohibit this kind of data collection by private companies or individuals (the government is a different story). Collecting data nonintrusively shouldn't be illegal, because such laws would have all sorts of nasty side effects.

Instead of restrictive regulations, we need legislation that empowers people to protect themselves from this kind of thing. For example, maybe the requirement to display a large identifying string of characters on vehicles should be rethought. We don't require people to wear identifying signs around their necks every time they venture out in the public. License plates just make this kind of data collection too easy.

If our society is unwilling to get rid of license plates entirely, perhaps we could go to electronic ones. Static plates could be replaced by electronic displays that automatically go blank when the car is parked.

Right now the playing field isn't level. Instead of leveling it by taking rights away, we should give people the ability to easily and legally protect themselves.

Or perhaps some out-of-the-box thinking would yield practical countermeasures that are already legal. Of course, then the challenge might be keeping those countermeasures from being outlawed.

Re:We Need Legal Countermeasures (2)

DaveV1.0 (203135) | about 9 months ago | (#46412117)

This is collecting data nonintrusively, so at what point would it become illegal?

We don't require people to wear identifying signs around their necks every time they venture out in the public.

There aren't a million people who look and dress exactly the same every single second of every day. There is one person who look like you. There are about millions of gold Toyota Camrys.

Static plates could be replaced by electronic displays that automatically go blank when the car is parked.

Or, you could just invest in a car cover and put it on your car and over the license plate when you park.

Instead of leveling it by taking rights away, we should give people the ability to easily and legally protect themselves.

You mean like being able to obscure one's license plate when the vehicle isn't moving by, say, putting on a car cover? Oddly enough, that is perfectly legal in every state.

how to quickly make it illegal (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46411961)

publicly post the movements of all government officials, corporate executives, and police

of course our legislators would probably just make the law that says its illegal to post the movements of government officials, corporate executives, and the police

bork beta (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46412027)

why am i being redirected to beta.slashdot.org when i keep requesting slashdot.org? if i wanted a website where everything is freakishly huge i would pull out my old crt monitor! what's slashdot's F'in problem?

Myths (1)

jklovanc (1603149) | about 9 months ago | (#46412079)

I will be tracked everywhere all the time with these scanners

Most scanners are mounted on vehicles like parking ticket authorities and tow trucks. The drive up and down the street scanning parked vehicles. There is no way every vehicle will be scanned all the time.

What about stationary cameras?

Where would these tow companies place these stationary cameras and get a lot of coverage? Sure they could try to place them on every light pole but I doubt local authorities would approve. Sure they can scan as people come and go from a lot but if you don't want to be scanned don't use the lot.

I will be tracked everywhere I go

No, your license plate will be tracked when a scanning vehicle comes by or you use a lot that scans. The piece of information that the scanning company does not have is any information about the owner of the license plate. The information can be obtained but only for a few specific reasons. California for example [ca.gov] , look at the "Permissible Use" section. I don't see "Because I want to sell tracking information" there as permissible use.

These databases will contain license plate numbers and not people's names.

Not legal in civilised countries (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 9 months ago | (#46412137)

It sounds like the person writing this, lives somewhere rather with rather unsavoury privacy legislation. I'm just glad that I don't live there.

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