We should definitely raise the discussion about government surveillance and how much (or in my opinion how little) should and should not be allowed. We should also discuss how much _private_ corporation spying should and should not be allowed (cough cough Google...partly why I find this is funny).
But this license plate reader car would exist with or without the crudely printed maps logo, let's not pretend it's supposed to be part of some "elaborate" disguise for some new form of government surveillance. This would also imply Google spying on you is ok...which I don't think it is.
First result from google on subject: http://abc7.com/news/repo-industry-collecting-data-on-you/37...
I expect Google lawsuits to also be hitting them very soon. (Liable maybe? It leads one to believe google is working with them, giving a bad representation to Google.)
On another note: This kind of "passive" plate reading has got to stop. It's a huge snowball waiting to happen. Next they put it on highways...traffic lights...at which point any governmental agency will know where you went..., when you went..., anytime..., ALL without a warrant....
How do we stop this encroachment on our liberties??
Note: Only speaking about the U.S.A., where this activity IS highly illegal and violates our constitutional rights.
I wish people would take more exception to the control of their lives than they do to its observation. Knowing where you're going does not encroach on your liberties as much as convincing you to go where they want you 5 days a week, exhausting your motivation, and telling you how to react to it all.
Do you have a drop-in compatible comprehensive alternative system?
Also, it's not like life today exists in a vacuum, a lot of history has passed to get us here.
Although I do believe there are better systems, and that adopting one is ultimately a matter of collective choice, it's not clear to me how to get there form here, what what 'there' even looks like.
That said, Philadelphia's parking ticket authority uses these license plate readers to identify vehicles that have been parked in a spot for longer than the allowed time. I'm sure that data gets fed into other databases as well, however.
When I lived in Palo alto I kept dealer plates on for three years
If people have the right to record that number when reporting a crime (which they sometimes do) then surely the government has the right to keep track of it as well. That is presumably why they issue the plates and require them to be visible to begin with.
It seems unreasonable to allow the existence of license plates and then complain when they're being used for their intended purpose.
For example: http://gizmodo.com/feds-are-spying-on-millions-of-cars-with-...
The Feds are tracking millions of vehicles traveling interstate highways. I heard at a conference that LPR data can at a minimum provide vehicle location and in some cases historical imagery and video through the I-95/I-81/I-87 corridor from Florida to Canada.
That's different than taking security footage at a bank robbery and putting out a bolo for a White Ford Bronco, plate 12345.
There's a similar controversy about Facebook facial recognition. My face isn't a secret -- but at some point large entities (commercial or government) tracking my movements crosses a line that is something more than observation of publicly viewable data.
A headline like "Feds Are Spying on Millions of Cars With License Plate Readers" implies that the government is doing something nefarious that it doesn't have a right to do, which isn't the case. They're entitled to track your license plate as much as they please.
They issued the plate so that when something happens involving a car, they can look at that car and figure out who the owner is.
That's quite different from tracking. If you have enough license plate readers all over the city, you can get a pretty good picture of all the movements I make. And store them for long periods of time.
License plates were issued to identify the owner of a car. Not to comprehensibly track the movement of all car owners and be able to look up every place I went to in the last year or longer.
That's not a harmful use case. That's an efficient implementation of the intended use case.
Edit: I'm not saying that's what happened, I'm pointing out that Google's statements so far don't exclude that possibility.
Amusingly, these are the easiest unmarked NYPD vehicles to spot. They're the only yellow cabs in the city with radio antennas.
I've also seen uniformed cops driving those cabs before.
I think it would be trivial for Google to demonstrate that this group is attempting to deceive the public to take advantage of the good will Google has and questionable behavior - like we have here - could negatively impact Google's brand.
> In a nutshell, a plaintiff in a trademark case has the burden of proving that the defendant's use of a mark has created a likelihood-of-confusion about the origin of the defendant's goods or services.
In this case, the defendant was not selling goods or services i.e., not engaging in trade.
There was a tool (http://samy.pl/mapxss/) that allowed you to interface that system. When I moved to a new home, my router appeared on the old location for a few weeks, and then it got updated to the new one. Creepy.
In a weird way, one privacy concern helps mask another: People spend time worrying that nefarious phone-software can locate itself even with GPS disabled... rather than worrying about nefarious server-software using a vast fleet of strangers' phones to locate and surveil their wireless equipment.
Android users are likely the ones wardriving without even realizing it.
You're going after license plates, which are regulated by state governments. It's illegal to obfuscate them, so there's no way to conceal your identity like you can with some the CCTV stuff. It's essentially an easy, legal way to keep tabs on your population. As the article pointed out, you can also tie this to all kinds of available data, and start creating profiles for people.
This is really scary, scary stuff.
> This is really scary, scary stuff
> Vehicle movements on UK roads are recorded by a
> network of nearly 8000 cameras capturing between 25
> and 30 million ANPR ‘read’ records daily. These
> records are stored for up to two years in the
> National ANPR Data Centre
The profiling you're worried about happening is explicitly touted as an aim of the UK government effort.
The UK approach often appears to be pro-surveillance, and then letting the courts work out what constitutes reasonable usage, a luxury afforded by having such a robust and independent legislature.
I first heard about license-plate readers back in 2008, and at that point police could already take a wired-up squad car for a cruise through a grocery store parking lot, scanning a couple hundred plates. Onboard software would run the numbers for outstanding warrants or lapsed registrations, and alert the officer.
This has already been going on for years. The capacity to mine that data effectively is slightly more recent, but I'm sure the logfiles exist.
You can form an LLC in a state that allows for some amount of anonymity, like New Mexico, and then register the vehicle under the LLC's name.
Edit: Nothing is fully anonymous, of course, so the government can backtrack it, but they probably don't bother unless there's some specific incident.
As for (2), well, yes...facial recognition is a different problem.
But with the advent of digital photography, image recognition, and computerized databases, they do something very different. They make it possible to track everyone passing through a place, and to correlate every sighting of someone to build up a profile of their life.
Sure, surveillance isn't novel. But a sufficient quantitative difference becomes a qualitative difference. Bulk tracking of everyone in a city is something completely new, and there's good reason to be uncomfortable with it.
When the laws requiring license plates were originally created, there was a certain understanding about how that would impact society. Sure, anybody could see them, but you needed a lot of expensive manpower to track one person for a long time or everybody at any time. The impact of having the data "in public" was inherently limited.
Now that technology has removed that limitation, the consequences of having a license plate in public view have changed. Pretending that this new situation is addressed with the outdated logic we used to define "no pubic expectation of privacy" assumes that the old definitions of privacy are still valid, which is patently incorrect.
IF the police were filled with perfect angels and laws were all perfectly reasonable and just allowing that might approach being ok. Instead we have a police force made of people who do things like harass whistle blowers who reveal corruption or cover ups or people they have personal vendettas against (or unrequited love toward).
We can disagree if this is a net positive or negative to society, but IMO a lot of folks are treating it as if nothing has changed because the core law hasn't changed. That's missing the point - the scale change is very significant.
It's likely possible to figure out your identity from what, when, and where you post online publicly... Especially by someone that has the resources to collect and data mine much of what is posted.
Would that be ok?
I don't think so, unless it's part of a legal and targeted investigation.
that is funny right there....
>With private services, you're more or less out of luck,
In a way, but last I checked google nor facebook are legally empowered to Arrest, Put me in a Cage, Raid my Home at 3am, Shoot my dog, Detonate Explosives in my children face or even Kill Me.
So yes google violates your privacy, to sell you shit, the government violates your privacy to put you in a cage or kill you. I am more concerned with the latter...
In other words are they doing what we have in essence ask them to do for us, by and large?
Since I do not get my ethics or morality from the government or law I do not view simply breaking one of the millions of laws as criminal, a crime to me has to have a complaining victim, no victim no crime.
Thus the state enforcing the thousands of victim-less crimes, or even crimes "against the state" are immoral, and unethical.
Further I find the governments use of ALPR data to build massive on going databases that are used for government and private uses to be offensive.
It is sad you do not
It's like saying, well, we don't care why facebook collects all that information, they may as well sell it all to any bidder.
I am a libertarian, I view 99% of government as immoral and unethical
If tracking citizens is legal and ok, then why do they have to hide it?
> car ... probably has a phone
Just like "smart" TVs, that's a feature that some of us will never buy.
Don't worry, it will be included in the price. Of nearly every thing worth more than a few hundred bucks (and counting down).
The Kindle having a built-in GSM SIM was just the beginning.
There's no end to how bad this could be. Say with a free account you can see their history for the last 10 days but with a paid account you can have unlimited access!
Also with the paid account, you can geofence any license plate and get SMS notifications when they go outside ( or inside ) a boundary.
Where does it stop?
Your car is spotted near a location that at one time in the past sold something to a drug dealer/grower/manufacture, Then you get your home raided (and possibly your dog killed, and children get to have flash bangs detonated in their beds/faces) all because your car was spotted some place the police took an interest in...
Public realtime video of every inch of the earth, and I honestly believe there is nothing we can do to stop it.
1. ALPR, when positioned strategically, can be as effective (if not more so) than GPS. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled last year that police need a court order to attach a GPS tracker to a suspect's car, but no such order is needed for ALPR. They're also passive, so there's no way to detect them, and you can't really avoid them when driving. They can also be combined with stationary cameras to increase the surveillance area.
2. The mobile phone data of a carrier is only searchable with a warrant. Some agencies use Stingrays without a warrant (thanks, Baltimore City, for the heads up) to track people illegally, but they would need many deployed throughout an area to triangulate, and they wouldn't be as accurate.
3. You can turn a phone off, but you can't make a car invisible. (You could change the plates, but 99.99999999% of the citizens being tracked have no reason, nor access, to do this)
4. Access to the data is basically unrestricted to the police force, and they can keep it for a long time, and they have no oversight. The ACLU says that in 45 states there are no laws on how long police can keep the records.
5. They can be abused easily:
"In 1998, a Washington D.C. police lieutenant pleaded guilty to extortion after blackmailing the owners of vehicles parked near a gay bar. In 2015, the Los Angeles Police Department proposed sending letters to the home addresses of all vehicles that enter areas of high prostitution."  In NYC, they used it to track people who went to a mosque in Queens, amongst other places. 
What's funny is that private companies have been operating ANPR units for years, and have private databases you can pay to search, similar to other data-selling companies that people like private investigators and creditors have been using for the past 15 years.
 https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Automatic_number_plate_recogni...  http://www.ap.org/Content/AP-In-The-News/2012/Newark-mayor-s...
Last I checked, Postmates ain't throwing journalists in jail for whistleblowing.
I don't think this is true at all, at least in my experience. The gun owners I know are against more gun laws (we already have 20,000 federal ones as it is) and VERY against a loss of privacy. They tie the two together often as examples of government over-reach. In fact, many are against gun registrations because it is a loss of privacy.
I think that privacy is definitely an issue for them, and they most certainly view losing it as a threat.
Just say what it is on the outside.
how often do you see a google streetview car?
shouldn't about 1 or 2 passes a year get them the info they need?
if you saw a google streetview car in the same neighborhood, 5 or 6 times in the same week wouldn't it seem highly unusual?
seems like someone got overly cleaver to me
that the apparent sanctity of Google Streetview Cars was violated, and that people seem upset, seems utterly laughable to me
Companies with a self-driving car fleet will have fantastic amounts of information, considerably exceeding the U.S. spy agencies and law enforcement, about the movements of U.S. persons.
Recording daily activities and movements of cars (uniquely identifiable by plates) is pretty interesting already, associating cars to persons can be made later.
You might even be able to detect suspicious activity, e.g. "KNHX-631 usually just commutes to and from work (shows up going downtown at around 8:30 every day, shows up going uptown 17:30 every day) and one day it showed up at 2:30 driving to leave the city, and returned at 5:30. There's a person reported missing that night..."
I'd be willing to accept them if they only captured and stored information on people with warrants or under investigation but without any cause police shouldn't be able to track my every movement and store that data.
The question is what's different about this one that it needs to be disguised?
It's simply an announcement. You're free as an American to do what you like using the benefit of this free information. It could just as well have been stated like this:
"Hey everyone. Just so you know: If you see a truck around that has a Google logo on it and you think that you can act as if it's going to be taking a picture here and there for map purposes and blur out your face, it's not."
"In fact, it appears to be owned by the government and we don't know exactly what it's doing. So, if you happen to be considering some activity, such as taking a shortcut through a neighborhood which would automatically delegate you a suspect due to your race not fitting in, etc., you might want to re-consider, since we have no idea what the legally-collected data from this vehicle will be used for."