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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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  • 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.
  • 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 sumdumass (711423) on Wednesday August 15, 2007 @05:04AM (#20234153) Journal

    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 for every gallon of gas and diesel pumped. plus a sales tax on top of that for the total cost of every gallon pumped that varied from country to city.

    It seems [pressconnects.com] that for the last four year NY had been diverting up to 750 million a year away from the roads fund that these taxes would have gone to. There are more BS stuff too if you look.

    There is no need to put this in place. NY collect plenty of money, this is a cap off of the going green thing discussed a year or so again. NY claimed it could reduce it's green house emission by charging people to drive though and force them to car pool or take the buses. Don't let them fool you, the only reason they are using repair and stuff for this is because they raided the road funds and the bridge collapse. OMG we gotta get money to fix the bridges really means we can institute the program people rejected a few years ago.
  • Re:Funny (Score:2, Informative)

    by catxk (1086945) on Wednesday August 15, 2007 @05:23AM (#20234235)
    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. people you don't know are speeding) in such a registry even temporarily. Besides this, there is the car tax in Stockholm where every car who enters or departs from the city is photographed and billed. All data about the car from the car registry register (!) is stored together with date, time, unt so weiter, although images are cropped to only include plates. Both very much privacy invoking but the thing is both systems works great. 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?
  • 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".
  • by Maelwryth (982896) on Wednesday August 15, 2007 @05:47AM (#20234313)
    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 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.

  • 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:Funny (Score:2, Informative)

    by ragefan (267937) on Wednesday August 15, 2007 @07:53AM (#20234723)

    Privacy? Most Americans will give up their privacy for a discount card at the supermarket.
    Nothing stops one from putting fake data on it. The stores don't verify your info with your Driver's License or other data, at least that ones here in my area.
  • Re:Awesome! (Score:2, Informative)

    by Spookticus (985296) on Wednesday August 15, 2007 @09:01AM (#20235269)

    Most tollbooths are already recorded to make sure that they can collect from people who pass without paying: if you don't pay the requisite fee, you get a bill. This is the same damn thing: a state (or in this case, a municipality) is charging for the use of the roads that it has to fund
    I do believe that the states are funded by the taxes that we already pay.
  • Re:Awesome! (Score:3, Informative)

    by Zaatxe (939368) on Wednesday August 15, 2007 @10:15AM (#20236165)
    how do you divide a sphere in east and west?

    Easy! What is west from Greenwich is the western hemisphere, what is east from Greenwich is the eastern hemisphere.

    Have you been sleeping during geography classes?
  • Re:Awesome! (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday August 15, 2007 @10:27AM (#20236323)
    ummm, you do realize that "Western civilization" is based on Islam?
    Europe came out of the dark ages when they tried to annihilate the "barbarian Mohammedans" and returned with new knowledge.
    the openness of Islamic society at its height allowed ideas to flow and mix from Spain to Malaysia.
    the scientific, mathematic, medical and philosophical works that modern technology is built on were developed by Muslims, combining what they learned from the ancient Greeks, Indians and Chinese.
    www.1001inventions.com

    just because a bunch of misguided lunatics have hijacked the religion doesn't mean the religion leads to lunacy.
  • read the post (Score:4, Informative)

    by reddburn (1109121) <redburn1@@@gmail...com> on Wednesday August 15, 2007 @11:01AM (#20236815)

    (some cops don't understand this)
    This is a longstanding right that has been reaffirmed a number of times by the Supreme Court. In fact, the ACLU at one point had a card that the group encouraged photographers to carry entitled "The Photographer's Bust Card" - outlining legal rights of photographers. There's more info at nyc.photobloggers.org [photobloggers.org] and a PDF based on the card [krages.com] developed by an attorney that is pretty informative.
  • Re:Awesome! (Score:3, Informative)

    by operagost (62405) on Wednesday August 15, 2007 @12:42PM (#20238179) Homepage Journal

    If you do believe that states are funded by the taxes that we already pay, what about the states that have no state taxes? Like, for example, New Hampshire?
    From new Hampshire's state revenue page:

    "New Hampshire does not have a general sales tax or an income tax on an individual's reported W-2 wages. There are taxes on an individual's interest and dividends income, inheritance, business taxes, consumer excise taxes and other taxes as listed below. Fuel taxes are administered by the NH Dept. of Safety Road Toll office at 603-271-2311.

    Every state has taxes.

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