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Privacy Technology

Manhattan 1984 545

Posted by samzenpus
from the watching-you dept.
Etherwalk writes "The New York Times is reporting on developments in the quest to charge driving fees for all vehicles headed below 86th Street in Manhattan. Notably absent from any part of the discussion is that a record is made of every car or truck that enters, together with the vehicle ownership information and the date and time of travel — either as part of EZ-Pass or in license-plate photos taken for subsequent billing."
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Manhattan 1984

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  • Funny (Score:5, Interesting)

    by bytesex (112972) on Wednesday August 15, 2007 @04:15AM (#20233963) Homepage
    Thing is, I discussed this with my US cousin a few months back, and told him how in the Netherlands, we had all sorts of systems in place already to monitor traffic for billing and speeding registration purposes, using cameras that read license plates. He was sure that, for privacy reasons alone, such systems would never fly in the States.
    • Re:Funny (Score:5, Insightful)

      by pimpimpim (811140) on Wednesday August 15, 2007 @04:35AM (#20234033)
      If there ever was a treshold that would stop this due to privacy reasons, it has long been passed. The German Autobahns have a huge system covering almost all the Autobahns tracking trucks for billing reasons. It is now still forbidden by law to use the system for law enforcement, the tracking is done independently from police databases. Though, as recently one police officer got killed at a tank stop, for which the offenders could have been caught using this system, and with the paranoid Schäuble as minister of interior, it will probably not take long before the police gets full control over that database. Face it, registrations like this are pretty harmless on itself, but also a part of the slow and seemingly unstoppable, erosion of privacy.
      • Re:Funny (Score:5, Informative)

        by squoozer (730327) on Wednesday August 15, 2007 @05:23AM (#20234237)
        Quite, the law was recently changed in the UK to allow the police to use the motoway ANPR system to track any suspect. Before the change they could only use it to track "terrorists".
        • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

          by Anonymous Coward
          s/\ suspect/body/
      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by owlnation (858981)

        Face it, registrations like this are pretty harmless on itself, but also a part of the slow and seemingly unstoppable, erosion of privacy.

        This is exactly why things like this are a problem -- and one would think Germans, of all people, would recognize the potential for abuse. All it takes is a new leader with popular support and a few minor legal changes to launch a fascist regime. That's exactly what happened in Germany before -- millions upon millions of people died because of that.

        Germany, Britain

    • by Da Fokka (94074)
      There definitely is no system for automatic billing in the netherlands yet, although there are plans to introduce such a system. Most speeding cameras only record the license plate only when the maximum speed is exceeded. The only exception are trajectory control systems, which monitor the average speed over a stretch of road. For this purpose the license plate is recorded on entry and exit of the monitored stretch. I'm not certain whether this information is actually stored.

      Additionally, in some large citi
      • by mrjb (547783)
        The only exception are trajectory control systems, which monitor the average speed over a stretch of road. For this purpose the license plate is recorded on entry and exit of the monitored stretch. I'm not certain whether this information is actually stored. It is stored, even if you do not surpass speed limits. My mother got a letter at some point asking if she would participate in a survey 'because she regularly travels the A13'. This is outrageous- if I am not a criminal, why am I tracked like one? This
        • Re:Funny (Score:4, Informative)

          by Da Fokka (94074) on Wednesday August 15, 2007 @06:42AM (#20234487) Homepage
          The only highways which have trajectory control are the A12 between Utrecht and Woerden and the A2 between Utrecht and Amsterdam. There are also mobile systems, but they are only employed on provincial roads in Flevoland. So this company probably got its information somewhere else, possibly in violation of the rules of conduct put forward by the College Bescherming Persoonsgegevens (the authority for protection of personal data).
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by catxk (1086945)
      Sweden has quite a lot of this actually. There is the speeding cameras along side dangerous stretches of roads that automagically takes a photo of every speeding car, sends a copy to some poor fella who compares the photo of the driver to the photo in the passport registry, and if they match, send a bill by mail. The police are pushing to allow the cameras to take photos of every car so one can measure the average speed between cameras, but this is still illegal since you can't put non-criminals (i.e. peopl
      • Re:Funny (Score:5, Interesting)

        by smooth wombat (796938) on Wednesday August 15, 2007 @08:14AM (#20234867) Homepage Journal
        People don't die due to speeding as they used to, Stockholm traffic isn't jammed every god damned day and the environment is happy happy which also means lives saved in the long run. Doesn't that hold any value when compared to privacy?


        I'm going on the presumption you have never been to Manhattan so I'll try not to make too much fun of you.

        First, the only way anyone can speed in Manhattan, during normal business hours, is if they are on a bike. Traffic is for all intents and purposes, a crawl during the day. There are a few minor exceptions such as Fifth Ave or so where, if you time the lights correctly and are going the correct speed, you can hit all the green lights. But then, so does everyone else in the pack you're traveling with so it's a zero gain.

        Second, reducing the number of vehicles below 86th Street in Manhattan will have a very negligible effect on pollution. Considering Manhattan is across the river from New Jersey, and NJ is known for its concentration of industrial and chemical businesses, guess what happens when the wind blows from the west? Not to mention the sheer amount of grime that has built up over the decades which goes airborne in the hot weather (as we recently experienced).

        Finally, one of many reasons the Founding Fathers of my country decided to part ways from merry old England was because of privacy. In those times, the Crown could send troops or other officials into your home on a whim, without a warrant, just to see if you were doing anything wrong. It was the Crown, it could do what it wanted. That is why there is that part in our Constitution which specifically says the government must get a warrant to do a search.

        So no, giving up our right to privacy (despite Scalia saying it doesn't exist) is not a good trade off. Granted, the vast majority of the unwashed masses don't know squat about their rights except three; right to free speech, right to religion and right to bear arms, but even then they're too brainwashed and kept in a perpetual state of fear to realize that all the other rights our Founding Fathers wanted us to have are essentially null and void at this time.

        Maybe you don't mind being tracked everywhere you go but I know I do. If someone wants to know where I was at a particular date and time, they can ask me. If I think it's a legitimate question, I'll answer them. If not, it's none of their business.

        I know I've said this before but James Madison nailed it when he said: If tyranny and oppression come to this land, it will be in the guise of fighting a foreign enemy.

        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by Steve525 (236741)
          Traffic is for all intents and purposes, a crawl during the day.

          This is why anti-conjestion schemes such as this won't work. If traffic is already so horrible, anyone is has an easy option to avoid the area is already doing it. Adding an $8 charge will provide only a little additional motivation. Many people have no choice; they are in that part of town and they need their car or truck for a good reason. The rest have already decided that the cost of sitting in traffic (and probably parking) is still wo
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Datasage (214357)
      Privacy? Most Americans will give up their privacy for a discount card at the supermarket.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by PopeRatzo (965947) *
      I don't mean to go against the grain of what are some interesting and reasonable concerns regarding personal liberty, but not all efforts to track the comings and goings of vehicles are a danger to our freedom as citizens.

      I'm as averse to surveillance as anyone around here, but there are certain places, certain densely populated places that are so valuable to our existence as a country, that it makes sense so be aware of who's moving multi-ton machines through there. It's not like we don't know that there a
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by JamesTKirk (876319)
      I really don't understand why people keep pointing to privacy issues when it comes to your PUBLIC movements. Tracking your phone records and such is a different story, as that information is actually private. Where you go in public isn't private to begin with. It's PUBLIC, get it? That information is already out there for everyone to see. Not to mention the fact that if you're driving in a car, you're on a road, which is a government controlled area. I can't believe anyone thinks they should be able t
      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by Aceticon (140883)

        I really don't understand why people keep pointing to privacy issues when it comes to your PUBLIC movements. Tracking your phone records and such is a different story, as that information is actually private. Where you go in public isn't private to begin with. It's PUBLIC, get it? That information is already out there for everyone to see. Not to mention the fact that if you're driving in a car, you're on a road, which is a government controlled area. I can't believe anyone thinks they should be able to driv

  • What? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by DarkIye (875062) on Wednesday August 15, 2007 @04:20AM (#20233983) Journal
    Jesus. Ok, it's all right to have a little bit of suspicion with regards to motives here, but "Manhattan 1984"? That's a bit much, isn't it?

    Also, how does this qualify as having to do with Our Rights Online?
    • Re:What? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Beryllium Sphere(tm) (193358) on Wednesday August 15, 2007 @04:36AM (#20234037) Homepage Journal
      In the old days, a stalker had to take time off work to follow a victim and find out every place she went.

      With comprehensive vehicle tracking, all he has to do is suborn someone with access to EZ-Pass records.

      Too hypothetical? Then consider something that's already happened, divorce lawyers using EZ-Pass records [csmonitor.com].

      Agreed, though, calling it 1984 is hyperbole as long as there are feasible alternatives to having an EZ-Pass.
      • Re:What? (Score:4, Insightful)

        by MrNaz (730548) on Wednesday August 15, 2007 @06:02AM (#20234375) Homepage

        Agreed, though, calling it 1984 is hyperbole as long as there are feasible alternatives to having an EZ-Pass.

        Well, no. That's like saying the sentence "Microsoft is a monopoly" is hyperbole while alternatives to Windows exist.

        • by EatHam (597465)
          Microsoft would be the cash lanes. Slower, infuriating, polluting, and more frequent crashes.
        • by mgblst (80109)
          You must have skipped logic and economics.

          Microsoft can still be a monopoly, while there are alternatives - this is a statement of fact. (Economics)

          Saying that Manhattan is like 1984 is in a opinion. It clearly is not a book, and it is debatable the level that it resembles that regime in that book. This is the point that skipped over your head.

          You can't compare the two things, because they are different. (logic)
      • Re:What? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by rizzo420 (136707) on Wednesday August 15, 2007 @07:20AM (#20234611) Homepage Journal
        so now you just walk or take public transit. last i checked there was no toll for walking or taking transit to enter manhattan.

        you have to understand that driving is not necessary in places like new york. don't want to be tracked, don't drive. people who use the ez pass do it out of choice. you aren't required to use one on the highways. you can just pay cash at the tolls and not be tracked. or if you're still worried, take the bus or train. driving a car is not a necessity or requirement, it's a luxury.
        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by adam613 (449819)
          Have you ever actually driven a car in Manhattan? I'd hardly call it a luxury.
    • Re:What? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Angstroem (692547) on Wednesday August 15, 2007 @04:48AM (#20234101)

      Jesus. Ok, it's all right to have a little bit of suspicion with regards to motives here, but "Manhattan 1984"? That's a bit much, isn't it?
      br> Also, how does this qualify as having to do with Our Rights Online?

      Ignorance is bliss, Darklye, isn't it?

      You just may want to have a look at Germany. You might or might not remember the fuzz about the German "Toll Collect" system introduced a couple of years ago. A definitely overblown system being able to measure the car, count axles, shooting fotos, talking to board computers etc.

      Everyone thought that this was a crazy amount of technology thrown at a problem so simple as collecting toll. Everyone laughed at the tech consortium which was not able to deliver in time

      First voices arose why the contracts were not publicly viewable. No freedom of information for this very contract... Still everyone insisted that this technology will solely be used for collecting toll.

      Meanwhile, things changed. A total surveillance infrastructure being able to track individual cars not only with the help of the installed board computer, but just by mere picture recognition (mind you, Germany introduced machine-readable using OCR fonts -- of course all for the sake of increased security against plate counterfeiting -- plates already in the 90s). And while the law still is active that the infrastructure may be solely used for toll collecting, it gets constant fire -- and it will probably only take another legislature period until it falls and finally, all the authorities will also have access to this data.

      Your turn, Mr. Spock.

    • Jesus. Ok, it's all right to have a little bit of suspicion with regards to motives here, but "Manhattan 1984"? That's a bit much, isn't it?
      Are you going to be saying the same thing when the government passes a law that requires remote access to your web cam for terrorist tracking purposes and that all new TVs produced after a certain date have cameras built in that allow two way communication via cable, satellite, or terrestrial over the air bands?
      • by mgblst (80109)
        You can make just a valid complaint when registration plates were first introduced. Or drivers licences. Or passports.
  • London 1984? ;) (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Hanners1979 (959741) on Wednesday August 15, 2007 @04:32AM (#20234019) Homepage
    We've had a similar system running in London for a while now here in the UK.

    Now you too can look forward to people using fake license plates to avoid charges, or people who have been nowhere near the area being charged and/or fined because the number plate recognition software read a letter or number wrong.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by high_rolla (1068540)
      Cool, Can't wait to see the article about how people have gotten around this then. I'm always intrigued by the clever ways people invent to get around these sorts of systems.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by MichaelSmith (789609)

      number plate recognition software read a letter or number wrong

      We have these speed cameras here in Australia which measure your speed over a distance by recording your travel time between two points and correlating rego plates. It had been assumed that they used some kind of OCR until a bus driver got charged with going 153 km/h (impossible for that type of bus) because the system confused plates with transposed digits, ie, AB != BA.

      So is our software dyslexic? Perhaps not.

    • by FireFury03 (653718) <slashdot AT nexusuk DOT org> on Wednesday August 15, 2007 @07:08AM (#20234567) Homepage
      Now you too can look forward to people using fake license plates to avoid charges

      I'm especially amused by the people walking around London with car number plates printed across their T-shirts (yes, the cameras do pick them up and charge people.) Unlike displaying a fake plate on your car, wearing a T-shirt with a number plate printed on it is not illegal.
  • by golodh (893453) on Wednesday August 15, 2007 @04:37AM (#20234041)
    The general idea is that road authorities should be able bill people for their actual use of the roads, with the price depending on when and where they drive and the characteristics of their vehicle.

    Technically this is already feasible by ensuring that every single vehicle is equipped with a GPS receiver and a transponder that transmits its identity and its itinerary (in time and space} to collection stations.

    As long as there is no congestion, and there are sufficient funds to keep all roads in good condition, the question doesn't appear. It becomes very different however when congestion starts blocking the grid, and when it's hard to find enough money for maintenance (of bridges for example}.

    Under current conditions however, there is a strong incentive to toll. And yes ... there are privacy aspects.

    Where electronically transmitted itineraries could be encrypted to prevent eavesdropping, someone has to do the billing ... and that someone can only do that if they can link the vehicle with a driver. And hence they will also be able to link vehicle, diver, and itinerary.

    It's not quite there yet, but the signs are that it's only a matter of time. Unless someone can come up with a fool-proof alternative way of putting up the money *and* ensuring an acceptable level of service. In other words: don't count on it not happening.

    After all ... what's privacy in the face of financial incentives?

    But rest assured ... there probably will be a capped-fee paying option for those who really don't want their movements tracked and who can afford to pay the national maximum road price per mile where- and whenever they drive. Those subscribes don't need to submit their itineraries ... their subscriber ID will do.

    The only snag is that the maximum road price will be about 20$ per mile. If your car does 50 mph, that would be 1000$ per hour maximum. So anyone willing (and able} to pay 365 x 24 x 1000$ per year would be allowed un-metered driving any time and any place. Anybody else will have to submit their itineraries and pay a road-use charge.

    Oh yes ... and don't bore us with complaints that you already pay gasoline tax. What you *pay* in unimportant. What counts is the difference between what's needed for upkeep and congestion management and what's currently available.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by sumdumass (711423)

      Oh yes ... and don't bore us with complaints that you already pay gasoline tax. What you *pay* in unimportant. What counts is the difference between what's needed for upkeep and congestion management and what's currently available.

      My problem is that there should be enough money already if it wasn't depleted by unrelated projects and over expenditures. It is unreal what most states collect in fuel taxes only to find their road and highway budget to be a minuscule percent of it. New York pockets 38 cents fo

    • by Weezul (52464) on Wednesday August 15, 2007 @06:04AM (#20234381)
      I've got a simpler solution: all road maintenence funds should come from gas taxes. If you use more, you pay more, pretty easy.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by ajs318 (655362)

      The general idea is that road authorities should be able bill people for their actual use of the roads, with the price depending on when and where they drive and the characteristics of their vehicle.

      Unfortunately, such fine granularity costs.

      Back in the 19th Century, there were plans to set up an elaborate system of charging people to post letters according to size, weight and distance travelled -- until someone worked out that all measuring and calculating would actually end up contributing more to the

  • Good (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Professor Mindblow (1142939) on Wednesday August 15, 2007 @04:40AM (#20234059)
    If it keeps the paranoid from driving their cars around Manhattan, that's a bonus reduction in traffic. I'm all for it. In fact, publish the data if you can't satisfactorily explain why you need to take your car in. Make it hurt to not take public transport.
    • by Triv (181010)

      Make it hurt to not take public transport.


      I agree in principle, but the New York City subway and bus systems are horribly overtaxed. Train platforms get dangerously full come rush hour, and trains themselves can't usually keep up with the load. That's on a good day; on a bad day [reuters.com] all hell breaks loose. Wasn't a fun commute, that one.



      Triv

    • by E++99 (880734)
      I think you might be on to something. While we're at it, how about requiring real names for posting on /.? I see a new golden age of reasoned discussion as the paranoid run for the hills.
  • Or possibly both.

    This appears to be a product of the thinking that the "market can regulate anything". Everywhere there is congestion, plans seeking to regulate it through differential charging are springing up all over the place. The revenues typically more than cover the cost of implementation in their first year. My opinion is that these schemes just take yet more money from the average Joe who works, because he typically doesn't have any choice as to where and when he drives when commuting to work - tra
  • by drspliff (652992) <harry.roberts@NOSPAM.midnight-labs.org> on Wednesday August 15, 2007 @04:44AM (#20234087)
    For areas of central London (UK) we already have a system in place called congestion charging. Basically whenever you enter/exit one of the zones, cameras hooked up with number plate recognition record you.

    The system works reasonably well, but it doesn't really stop people driving in the "congestion" zones and most people really dislike the system, for example, if you don't realize you've driven through a congestion charging zone you end up with a bill in the post for more than it would normally cost (you get discounts for paying same-day or prior to entering the zone).

    Now - the mayor is proposing to charge different rates based on what type of car you have - small effecient compacts would pay nothing or next to nothing, while massive SUVs or anything with a 3+ liter engine would pay upto £25 GBP per day ($50 USD).

    The most likely outcome of this? Poorer people will use public transport, while for the richer bigger fines will just affirm their social status, or make them consider getting smaller cars.

    Oh - and I'm not mentioning the use of the system to track criminals, bail jumpers or "potential terrorists", because it's happening frequently and is just another way that the government is abusing the powers they gave themselfs by-proxy.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Tim Browse (9263)

      The system works reasonably well, but it doesn't really stop people driving in the "congestion" zones

      Hmm, I worked in London at the time the charge was introduced, and for a couple of years after. I noticed a big difference in the amount of traffic on the roads. I happen to like the system, but then I don't tend to habitually drive into London (because I'm not insane).

    • by Serious Callers Only (1022605) on Wednesday August 15, 2007 @05:08AM (#20234173)

      The system works reasonably well, but it doesn't really stop people driving in the "congestion" zones


      Traffic has been reduced by 26% at the last count, so it has in fact stopped some people driving in the congestion zones, as intended. 'Reductions in congestion inside the charging zone over the whole period since the introduction of the scheme now average 26 percent. ' - from the 2007 report of Tfl.

      Now - the mayor is proposing to charge different rates based on what type of car you have - small effecient compacts would pay nothing or next to nothing, while massive SUVs or anything with a 3+ liter engine would pay upto £25 GBP per day ($50 USD). The most likely outcome of this? Poorer people will use public transport, while for the richer bigger fines will just affirm their social status, or make them consider getting smaller cars.


      I believe this is the intended effect, I doubt very much people would use fines as status symbols (proof of this?), and if they do, their stupidity would fund further public transport. No one who is poor in London can afford a car anyway (if you can afford a car in London, you have to pay parking, road tax, and fuel, not to mention upkeep), so they'll be happier with improved public transport.

      As for the surveillance aspect - I'd be more concerned about their efforts to extend the length of time the police can hold people without trial (currently being misused to hold protesters against airport expansion), and routine use of torture [amazon.co.uk] (though thank goodness its use in court has been banned, much to the UK government's chagrin). Potential tracking of road use is the least of our worries.
      • by pev (2186)

        No one who is poor in London can afford a car anyway

        I use a car in London but I'm not not very well off... How could this be...?! Actually, I choose not to live in London itself - as do a large number of car users in the capital for whom it's not a practical option to use public transport due to insane cost and time required being even greater than private car ownership.

        ~Pev
    • by perky (106880)
      The most likely outcome of this? Poorer people will use public transport, while for the richer bigger fines will just affirm their social status, or make them consider getting smaller cars.

      Which isn't exactly a bad outcome now, is it?
  • by apodyopsis (1048476) on Wednesday August 15, 2007 @04:50AM (#20234113)
    I find that most people who reject number plate tracking, CCTV cameras, automatic logging and vehicle license MOT test (legal UK vehicle check to ensure it is road worthy) and the like generally have something to hide.

    Whilst I agree there must be safeguards, it seems that every day there are crimes solved, prevented or swiftly responded to by this kind of technology.

    See: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Closed-circuit_televi sion#Crime_registration [wikipedia.org]

    from the FA above:
    "Claims that they reduce or deter crime have not been clearly borne out by independent studies[2], though the government claims that when properly used they do result in deterrence, rather than displacement. One clear effect that has been noted is a reduction of car crime when used in car parks. Cameras have also been installed in taxis to deter violence against drivers, and also in mobile police surveillance vans. In some cases CCTV cameras have become a target of attacks themselves. Middlesbrough council have recently installed "Talking CCTV" cameras in their busy town-centre. It is a system pioneered in Wiltshire which allows CCTV operators to communicate directly with the offenders they spot. This idea is first known to have appeared in George Orwell's famous novel Nineteen Eighty-Four.

    The use of CCTV in the United States is less common, though increasing, and generally meets stronger opposition. In 1998 3,000 CCTV systems were found in New York City. There are 2,200 CCTV systems in Chicago.

    The most measurable effect of CCTV is not on crime prevention, but on detection and prosecution. Several notable murder cases have been solved with the use of CCTV evidence, notably the Jamie Bulger case, and catching David Copeland, the Soho nail bomber. The use of CCTV to track the movements of missing children is now routine.

    After the bombings of London on 7 July 2005, CCTV footage was used to identify the bombers. The media was surprised that few tube trains actually had CCTV cameras, and there were some calls for this to be increased.

    On July 22, 2005, Jean Charles de Menezes was shot dead by police at Stockwell tube station. CCTV footage has debunked some police claims. Because of the follow-up bombing attempts the previous day, some of the tapes had been supposedly removed from CCTV cameras for study, and they were not functional. The use of DVR technology may solve this problem."


    In the UK the police are building up a large DNA database from everybody charged with a criminal offence (now nearly 5m entries) this solves crimes regularly. See http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk/3232744.stm [bbc.co.uk] as an example.

    Bottom line, I have no problem with this technology if safeguards are in place and it makes the streets a safer place to walk.
    • The problem is .. (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Dr_Barnowl (709838) on Wednesday August 15, 2007 @05:05AM (#20234159)
      This consolidates power in the hands of government. Right now, the UK government can be offensive, inappropriate, incompetent, all the traditional sins of government, but they do stop short of being outright openly evil. Alas, government is not a static reliable thing. Many of the functions of government are being gleefully handed over to corporations, either by market-worshipping dingbats who genuinely believe that the market can regulate itself, or by corrupt arseholes who just want the stock options.

      Now, imagine the same systems in the hands of a major corporation. Now imagine that the corporation has very few legal restrictions on what it does. Now imagine you have pissed them off.

      If that didn't scare you, you have a serious lack of imagination.
      • by kahei (466208)
        Right now, the UK government can be offensive, inappropriate, incompetent, all the traditional sins of government, but they do stop short of being outright openly evil.

        Ha ha, yeah, good one.

    • by sumdumass (711423)
      If you have one thing that you don't want one person to know about means you have something to hide. What it so demeaning that my opinion shouldn't count if I have something to hide. I successfully purchased and stored 5 months early a gift for my mothers birthday that I was hiding from her, Am i a bad person or something now?

      Something to hide or not is by n means a reason to discount an objection.
    • Bottom line, I have no problem with this technology if safeguards are in place and it makes the streets a safer place to walk.

      Good then you'll have no problem submitting DNA(blood and hair sample), fingerprints, and psycholgical evaluation. Don't worry about a list of known associates since you will have video and sound recorders and gps surgically implanted. Don't worry, we'll use the same safeguards as the traffic system. Also please keep a journal of any thoughts you have.

      Unless, of course, you have som

      • by apodyopsis (1048476) on Wednesday August 15, 2007 @05:52AM (#20234331)
        Actually there is a lot of sense to that. It has been proposed before that a government DNA database would virtually solve crime - obviously this is not true but it would be a very useful tool for detection and prevention.

        But before you go off on one and start ranting lets look at the facts...

        From the Home Office: http://www.homeoffice.gov.uk/science-research/usin g-science/dna-database/ [homeoffice.gov.uk]

        "Any intrusion on personal privacy is proportionate to the benefits that are gained.

        By the end of 2005, about 200,000 samples had been retained that would have been destroyed before the 2001 change in legislation. 8,000 of these samples matched with DNA taken from crime scenes, involving nearly 14,000 offences, including murders and rapes.

        In 2005-06 45,000 crimes were matched against records on the DNA Database; including 422 homicides (murders and manslaughters) and 645 rapes."

        Thats 45 thousand crimes in one year. Think about that for a while.

        And an anti database view: http://www.genewatch.org/HumanGen/Publications/Rep orts/NationalDNADatabase.pdf [genewatch.org]

        "Errors and false DNA matches have led to miscarriages of justice, and these can create major difficulties for those wrongfully convicted because, like fingerprint evidence, DNA is widely regarded as absolutely conclusive, meaning that those without strong alibi evidence will tend to be presumed guilty. At the moment the DNA database itself can be viewed largely (but not entirely) as a growing suspect list that is mainly used to check samples from new and unsolved crime, but the existing data can be (and has been) used for broader purposes, and the UK practice of retaining the sample as well as the data allows it to be used for further testing for other purposes as the science develops.

        We're seeing glimpses of what is possible with familial testing, which establishes links to family members where the suspect's DNA might not be on the database, and although the first instance of this was viewed as a coup, if used widely the procedure would find relatives you didn't know about, and reveal that people weren't related to the people they thought they were. So what have you got to hide? You don't know, and maybe you don't want to know."

        --- I am *not* parroting a government line. Nor am I proposing GATACCA. I am simply stating that to dismiss this without thought on quaint and paranoid lines seems irrational and foolish. I realized that this viewpoint would run counter to many of the /. readers (yes thats a sweeping generalization) but it really is what I think.

    • apodyopsis sez:

      I find that most people who reject number plate tracking, CCTV cameras, automatic logging and vehicle license MOT test (legal UK vehicle check to ensure it is road worthy) and the like generally have something to hide.

      How the hell did this get modded "insightful"? All apodyopsis is doing is parroting the administration party line that privacy is about concealing wrongdoing. This is not what privacy is about at all.

      Here's [wired.com] an excellent piece by Bruce Schneier that explains in more detail jus

      • Interesting read, many thanks - but irrelevant to this discussion. We are NOT talking about ubiquitous surveillance everywhere. We are talking about surveillance in public places and DNA checking from collected samples to a centrally held database. Privacy in people homes is still guaranteed except when a warrant has been issued - in that respect nothing has changed.

        The proposed systems are nothing more then a tool to help solve crimes - they do not watch your every move in the privacy of your own home a
    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by Maelwryth (982896)
      You forget that a bombing is a fairly small crime in the larger scheme of things. The really big crimes are committed by governments.
    • by Alioth (221270)
      _Everyone_ has something to hide. The more intrusive systems like this are, the more use they may be to a potential future less-than-benign government. CCTV that is not networked is less of a problem - it's not so easy to abuse, but if a crime has been committed you can still get the tapes. Once you have a massive networked encompassing surveillance society, things change. It becomes trivial to track your political opponents.

      If this lack of privacy is so good for the citizens, why don't MPs eat their own do
  • Catching up (Score:4, Funny)

    by AmiMoJo (196126) <mojo@worl[ ]net ['d3.' in gap]> on Wednesday August 15, 2007 @04:51AM (#20234115) Homepage
    As a British subject, it's nice to see our American allies catching up in the war on citizens^H^H^H^H^H^H terror.

    George Orwell is one of the greatest British heroes to ever live, and now his ideas are spreading around the world. This must surely be England's finest hour.
  • by Brianech (791070) on Wednesday August 15, 2007 @04:52AM (#20234119)
    I hate to play devil's advocate here, but this could be a much better system than a toll booth system. Either way it seems they are looking to make the traffic congested area a toll zone. Toll booths create a stop and go traffic nightmare. Creating a system that is automated (and like most things automated NOT perfect) would at least be a solid solution to not only DETER atleast some traffic, but also not hinder traffic flow. Now of course people will be screaming about how such a system will be used.

    Obviously one major problematic scenario is law enforcement going wild with such a resource. You would hope there would be a secure system to prevent abuse, but it creates the infinite problem of who will watch the watchers, who will watch the watchers watching the watchers, etc. As long as the system does not needlessly collect data (such as a blanket camera system that tracks ALL movements within the zone) I dont think most people would mind. You have to remember that even at tollbooths your car is caught on camera (security cameras). True, security cameras dont have the retention this system would require (for billing purposes it would be atleast a month depending on monthly/quartly/yearly pricing) but again, imposes limitations on the use of such data could aid in ensuring the privacy of drivers.

    Sorry to go anti-1984 here, but this system is far less frightening than say a CCTV blanket system like that already purposed for many downtown locations around the US, and already in wide spread use in England. While the article was scant on the operational details of the system, it felt like it was going to be used solely to track motorists entering an area and just for billing purposes (as much as we can trust that!).
    • by jrumney (197329)

      Toll booths create a stop and go traffic nightmare.

      The other problem with toll booths is that they only really work when the toll is on a single road - bridges, motorways, entrances to airports etc, not on an area with multiple entrances like part of Manhattan, or central London or Singapore.

    • Toll booths create a stop and go traffic nightmare.

      I go through 6 toll plazas a day. 90% of the time, I have to drop to about 65mph to do so. (10% of the time, something stupid is going on.)

      Don't get me wrong. I hate paying tolls. I think roads should be free to use. The privacy problems with having an EZ Tag scare the crap out of me, though not enough to make me give it up.

      However, criticism that toll booths create a stop and go traffic nightmare are overblown and unfair. Old toll installations

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday August 15, 2007 @05:04AM (#20234157)
    After a earlier trial in Stockholm, Sweden the system is back online. The automatic license plate reading system is developed by IBM and only scans license plates when you drive into the toll zone or leaving it. It created a 20% decrease in traffic during the earlier trial and the average speed increased. The air pollution levels was reduced. The bus system, trains and subway noticed an increase in passengers but travel times was reduced still.

    The information is kept until payment has been made, when it's removed from the system. With only 2 weeks to pay not much information can be recovered from the database.

    With all the alarming reports about climate change and greenhouse gases it's probably a good idea to implement road tolls all over the world. In Stockholm environment friendly cars don't have to pay the road tolls. What is defined as a environment friendly car is subject to change every year as development goes forward.
  • Oh yeah, in that last bastion of freedom: the UK. If it was restricted to just London I could live with that as who in their right mind would want to go there anyway but this broken thinking is spreading to other cities. If that wasn't enough we now have ANPR (automatic number plate recognition) on all the motorways, some a-roads and I've seen it at pertol stations as well. Welcome to the police state. Have a nice stay.
  • What I don't get (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Capt James McCarthy (860294) on Wednesday August 15, 2007 @05:59AM (#20234353) Journal
    Is how there is not any outrage, but there is acceptability, for the corupt nature of the whole situation. Gas taxes are supposed to pay for roads (maint & repair). That would go to figure, you use public roads, you should pay for them. But now here's a situation where the Federal Govt is giving NY 300+ million to charge people more money to use _PUBLIC_ roads. I guess "Public" no longer means paid for by the people's taxes, but means, paid for by the people's taxes, and rented out to the folks who can afford it.

    Rerouting congestion does not solve the problem. NIMBY all over again. Those cars have to go somewhere. And as for the folks who think that public transportation is good enough, that could be viewed as another freedom taken away. Folks drive for many reasons, one being a sense of going where they want, when they want.
  • than what they're doing in with the Narrows bridge in Washington state? I think they're taking pictures of license plates and fining people who skip the toll.
  • Do people really think that this changes their privacy? Lots of folks have mentioned the congestion charging here in London, but even before it was introduced I got a letter from the police to say that their cameras had seen my car in an area where a murder had been committed, and had I seen anything? If they want to track folks in Manhattan I bet they already have the technology in place.
  • There are ways to do this while keeping privacy in mind and largely intact.

    To take where I live as an example. I can pick a manually operated lane and pay via coin toss or handing cash to a human being. These lanes do not record anything unless you try to blast through without paying.

    I am not 100% positive such an anonymous alternative is required by law, but I'm fairly certain of it.

    If opting for a transponder to avoid having to stop, there are strict limits as to how long identifiable information may be s
  • by circletimessquare (444983) <circletimessquare&gmail,com> on Wednesday August 15, 2007 @11:46AM (#20237475) Homepage Journal
    personally i think they should turn a random town in new jersey into a parking lot, and force people to take trains into the city. cars ruin midtown. i hate cars. all streets should become pedestrian thoroughfairs. make times square a permanent street fair. turn the taxi fleet into a bunch of pedicabs, scooters, and small european style microcars. make all truck deliveries during a certain hour of the night

    and then i turn to slashdot, and i find a bunch of spin that frankly doesn't get the situation at all. a lot of the discussion here is about accepting a loss of freedom

    loss of freedom?! you mean GAIN of freedom. the oppressive fascist presence here being CARS, not the government!

    hello, i live here, i think i understand better than the average slashbot about what is going on with this plan. i don't see it as mourning a loss of freedom. i see it as celebrating a loss of CARS

    let's put it this way: in the fight against what you perceive as an intrusive government and loss of privacy, try to understand what people on the ground are actually thinking about the situation, and pick the right fight. don't misinterpret the situation and come charging in horns ablaring about this issue or that issue that frankly, no one is actually concerned with and doesn't even apply

    or rather, for the sake of argument, let's take the absurd position that the slashbots here are correct about this being an intrusive government issue and not a clogged traffic issue. ok, well then, now you understand that those who live in midtown manhattan welcome the devilish scheme of emperor palpatine to take away their freedoms under the guise of a bait and switch maneuver that the issue is something else entirely. fine: now try to understand what emperor palpatine is baiting us with, and use that issue as a starting point for your own words. the point being, it doesn't pay to march into a situation with the discussion already all figured out in your head without any input or attempt to persuade the people who are actually the targets of the plan in question

    know your audience, speak to their concerns. or don't bother speraking at all. because they're not going to listen to you if you don't try to understand where they are coming from
  • by fm6 (162816) on Wednesday August 15, 2007 @11:58AM (#20237631) Homepage Journal
    People should not be allowed to reference 1984 (or say "Orwellian") unless they've actually read the thing [gutenberg.net.au]. It describes a totalitarian state that makes Stalin look like a libertarian. It's not just about a government that spies on its people (though only the upper classes). It's about people willfully changing their own memories of the past and a ruling party that claims to control reality. All of this is set in a world of permanent war and grinding poverty for almost all of humanity.

    People are right to be concerned about the government spying on them. But most of the intrusions that people are up in arms about is a long way from "1984" territory. Being added to a database every time you drive into Manhattan does raise privacy concerns, but it's many orders of magnitude away from the nightmare Orwell described.

    Warning: it's illegal to follow the above Gutenberg Australia link if you live in the U.S. or some other country that has effectively made copyrights permanent. That's a bad thing, but it's not "Orwellian" either.

An inclined plane is a slope up. -- Willard Espy, "An Almanac of Words at Play"

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