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Loss of Locational Privacy While Traveling in Your Automobile (2013) [pdf] (defcon.org)
92 points by rfreytag on Jan 28, 2018 | hide | past | web | favorite | 21 comments

This is a nice article that highlights some of the more important case law regarding privacy while traveling in your car. But I think it's important to make clear that the Supreme Court has ruled that individuals do not have a reasonable expectation of privacy in their public movements, car or otherwise (U.S. v Knotts). While most agree that the infallibility and general capability of GPS does create a new technological perception of privacy in public spaces, and that an individual does not shirk all expectations of privacy once they are in a vehicle, one argument is that the technology does not make something that was previously public now private. Carpenter v. U.S. is a landmark case right now that will be decided this summer and is distinct from Jones in that there was no common law trespass to help the court answer the question about tracking via GPS or cell phone records.

Maybe s/'public now private'/'private now public'/ ?

And even so, one can mitigate somewhat by sticking to back roads.

No, your actions in public have always been public.

A certain amount of privacy came from the cost/effort required to monitor people - you had to have a good reason. So while you could be monitored by a PI/police, it wouldn't happen to people most of the time.

The privacy laws worked in an era where mass collection/mining wasn't feasible. Now, they are broken. Everyone's activity is tracked and logged, referred to for the most minor infraction or mined for indicators of country of origin, shopping preferences, or political affiliation and activism.

A certain amount of privacy came from the cost/effort required to monitor people - you had to have a good reason. So while you could be monitored by a PI/police, it wouldn't happen to people most of the time.

Were the existing legal doctrines developed with this in mind as well? Perhaps it's time the notion that movements are not private gets reevaluated.

OK, sorry. I misunderstood your comment.

Atlanta has an extensive deployment of fixed license plate readers which has gone mostly unnoticed. I think this falls into the categories of either not knowing or not caring, and I expect that to continue until there is a publicized misuse. For anyone interested, the largest deployment is in Buckhead, then Brookhaven, then Norcross. I have counted almost a hundred and fifty readers so far, and many more PTZ cameras.

Not to mention the rise of mobile readers, it's rare I see a Gwinnett or Dekalb county sheriff car without them. My local PD's newest car has hidden cameras and is always waiting along the most traffic-choked road, seemingly doing nothing... but actually waiting for hits on warrants and insurance violations. Apparently that is more lucrative than the traditional traffic enforcement for profit, as several acquaintances have had the misfortune of discovering on the way to my home.

Pro tip: Don't get busted for lack of auto insurance in Georgia, it is extremely expensive.

My understanding is that Georgia (specifically) also equips police cars with the ability to localize the position of many cars based on their RF "connected car" emissions at a range of several hundred meters, mostly higher end cars currently. These RF links will be in all cars eventually, it is regulatory (there is licensed spectrum dedicated for the purpose). Most people are oblivious to it.

Interesting. So salting your plates skirts reflectivity and plate obstruction laws because a) the plate is still visually unobstructed, and b) the laws apply specifically to the reflective coating rather than infrared visibility more broadly?

In my experience the readers are not that good and you really don't need to intentionally do anything to the plate in order for it to be unreadable. Normal wear and tear is enough at least for the front plate (ie. damage from road gravel, otherwise uninteresting collisions with various obstacles while parking and so on).

This was a really interesting but depressing read.

I'd kinda like to drive around with an RTL-SDR and see if I can spot any of this stuff near me.

Should be easy at night if you can detect IR. That's how I'd expect them to "light" up your plate, so that the pic's exposure time can be short enough to not be a blur.

Walking around my neighborhood at night wearing a PVS-14 nicely shows everyone with security cameras


It's not just the ANPR though - according to the PDF there is surveillance of tyre pressure sensors, RFID tags in the tyres, toll passes (even when not at a toll).

It is not mentioned in the PDF but nowadays it seems that collecting wifi and bluetooth addresses advertised by passing cars is quite common and popular.

I'm guessing this was brought up due to the news about ICE using the scanner technology. https://www.theverge.com/2018/1/26/16932350/ice-immigration-...

This is an excellent set of slides, but most of the U.S. state maps make no sense. He explains the colors in the 46-minute video[1], but it's a shame he didn't put legends on the maps.

[1] https://media.defcon.org/DEF%20CON%2021/DEF%20CON%2021%20sli...

I still don't understand what he means by the map for "Latest Model Year for YOM" [year of manufacture] even after watching the relevant part of the video (at 19m38s).

What exactly is salting a license plate?

Looks like drying salt water on the plate

So are plates in the Northeast and Midwest immune to readers from first snow until spring?

The white lettering on black background makes this all the more ominous.

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