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Privacy Transportation United States Your Rights Online

National Car Tracking System Proposed For US 563

Posted by timothy
from the arrogance-of-power dept.
bl968 writes "The Newspaper is reporting that the leading private traffic enforcement camera vendors are seeking to establish a national vehicle tracking system in the United States using existing red-light and speed enforcement cameras. The system would utilize Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) to track vehicles passing surveillance cameras operated by these companies. If there are cameras positioned correctly the company will enable images and video to be taken of the driver and passengers. The nice thing in their view is that absolutely no warrants are needed. To gain public acceptance, the surveillance program is being initially sold as an aid for police looking to solve Amber Alert cases and locate stolen cars."
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National Car Tracking System Proposed For US

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  • Re:Inductive sensors (Score:2, Informative)

    by Lovedumplingx (245300) on Wednesday September 17, 2008 @12:07PM (#25041167)

    How would it tell my Civic from the millions of other Civics?

    The parent said

    Combine this data with the camera images and you can also identify that vehicle.

    Bit of a stretch I think but maybe not far off.

  • Hello shadowbox (Score:4, Informative)

    by DaveV1.0 (203135) on Wednesday September 17, 2008 @12:08PM (#25041185) Journal

    At least here in Florida, the law states that one can not obscure one's license plate. But, if one recesses the license plate into the vehicle and uses proper lighting, then the cameras can not see the plate, but the police on the ground can, therefore the plate is not obscured.

    Also, in places like Florida where only a rear plate is used, getting a picture of both the plate and the driver will require the use of two cameras.

  • It should be (Score:5, Informative)

    by Capt James McCarthy (860294) on Wednesday September 17, 2008 @12:09PM (#25041205) Journal

    A huge red flag when commercial entities want to enforce laws. But that's what happens when the Governments start outsourcing.

  • Re:Inductive sensors (Score:4, Informative)

    by Ironsides (739422) on Wednesday September 17, 2008 @12:16PM (#25041315) Homepage Journal

    With some clever signal processing you could distinguish roughly the shape and size of the vehicle.

    It doesn't take a lot of imagination to then see that if you could gather data from enough of these sensors, you could track a particular vehicle over the course of many miles.

    That is a big if. Those sensors are not very precise and I'm not sure it could do much between differentiation of vehicles. I have been stopped at a light and had at least three near identical cars of very close length and weight right around me. I don't believe that the sensors would be able to differentiate between models that are even four years apart from each other.

  • Re:I'm all for it (Score:3, Informative)

    by Bryansix (761547) on Wednesday September 17, 2008 @12:18PM (#25041369) Homepage
    Actually a lot of stolen cars are on the streets at any given time. Car theft is a much larger problem then you think. 1.2 million cars are stolen each year... []
  • Easily fixed (Score:5, Informative)

    by mlwmohawk (801821) on Wednesday September 17, 2008 @12:19PM (#25041411)

    The vidicon tube is long gone, all these cameras are solid sate which means they are sensitive to near infrared. Conveniently enough, the exact same type produced by LEDs.

    It should be possible to create a high brightness license plate frame which will overload the camera and just leave a very white rectangle where the plate should be in the photo.

    Still, private companies should not be in the business of enforcing laws or tracking citizens. Private companies do not answer to the public and are not regulated in the same way a police officer is.

  • Re:I'm all for it (Score:2, Informative)

    by AndrewNeo (979708) on Wednesday September 17, 2008 @12:20PM (#25041433) Homepage
    Without your knowledge, and without a warrant are two entirely different things. Though, nowadays..
  • Re:I'm all for it (Score:3, Informative)

    by PitaBred (632671) <slashdot@pitabred.dy n d n s . org> on Wednesday September 17, 2008 @12:22PM (#25041461) Homepage

    Only if they have a warrant. At least, I think that's what I last heard with the GPS tracking police debacle []. Somehow these twats think they can get around that, though.

  • Re:This is America (Score:4, Informative)

    by Anonymous Brave Guy (457657) on Wednesday September 17, 2008 @12:22PM (#25041477)

    Those of us in the UK have been recorded in this way for quite some time now. The police have been happily rolling out nationwide ANPR tracking cameras and databases, and you've guessed it, they rolled it into a neat deal that has managed to avoid much Parliamentary scrutiny using technicalities. There has been a little consternation about that from a few liberal (small 'l') MPs and the Information Commissioner, but right now the good guys are a bit busy to put up serious opposition, what with trying to stop our entire way of life from collapsing because of the impending economic implosion and fighting even nastier surveillance/database measures like the National Identity Register and the National DNA Database.

  • Re:I'm all for it (Score:5, Informative)

    by weilawei (897823) on Wednesday September 17, 2008 @12:25PM (#25041523) Homepage
    Allowed? They do it anyway [].
  • by quaero_notitia (1192373) on Wednesday September 17, 2008 @12:25PM (#25041535)

    "If you don't want your rights violated, try riding a bicycle." How about, if you don't want your rights violated, then move to another part of the Earth. Sorry, not an option me. I say that that deep, dark and dirty crevices where our law makers and enforcers reside needs a bit of sunshine.

  • Re:Inductive sensors (Score:2, Informative)

    by hardie (716254) on Wednesday September 17, 2008 @12:33PM (#25041689)

    Clever signal processing plus a whole new set of electronics. What these coils do now is detect a resonance change due to the presence of metal, a binary sort of decision. If you want an analog recording, at speed, you need a serious upgrade to the electronics.


  • Re:Inductive sensors (Score:5, Informative)

    by jschimpf (628722) on Wednesday September 17, 2008 @12:34PM (#25041723)
    Been there done that. Worked with a company that did traffic sensors and could see the waveforms from vehicles. We could and did identify makes and models of cars. BUT take that same car and drive north or south over rough road for a while and you get a different waveform ! (Hint the car is now magnetized differently). Anyway yes you could identify specific cars of the set the company owned. But this would not extrapolate to those same models in the wild driven differently or with a different magnetic history. As just driving the car will change the waveform.
  • Re:Inductive sensors (Score:4, Informative)

    by onkelonkel (560274) on Wednesday September 17, 2008 @12:47PM (#25041959)
    Nope. The sensors detect the change in inductance of the loop and do a "presence / no presence" decision. Google "Reno A&E" for all the details on loop detectors. The "signal" from a loop will vary depending on loop size, shape (round, rectangle, diamond, quadrupole (figure 8)), length of the lead-in wires, depth of the loop in the pavement, height of the vehicle above the ground (ie your lowered honda civic might have a bigger signal than the 3/4 ton pickup with the off road lift kit. Vehicle speed will change the signal, as will alignment in the lane.
  • Re:I'm all for it (Score:2, Informative)

    by icebones (707368) on Wednesday September 17, 2008 @12:54PM (#25042127) Homepage
    most likely your state doesn't require front plates, some don't e.g. delaware and some do, e.g. texas
  • Re:I'm all for it (Score:4, Informative)

    by mcsqueak (1043736) on Wednesday September 17, 2008 @12:55PM (#25042141)

    You get tickets for missing front plates? I have been driving a car for 11 years without a front plate and I have not got a single ticket in that time.

    I think it's a state-by-state thing. Some want both and some only require one.

  • by Phizzle (1109923) on Wednesday September 17, 2008 @12:59PM (#25042233) Homepage
    Many tires manufacturers embed serialized RFID sensors and that data is already being tracked as an "experiment" and for "purely statistical" purposes. Your browser is embedded with a unique ID number. Your other apps are embedded with unique IDs that seep into the obvious and inobvious meta-data on the documents you produce and "touch". The technocrati walk around with pocketfuls of gadgets that broadcast various data that is easily collected for corrolative retrieval. Your online habits are collected and analyzed by industry and goverments (US doesnt have a monopoly on online spying). There is no privacy and there is no spoon.
  • Re:I'm all for it (Score:3, Informative)

    by mcsqueak (1043736) on Wednesday September 17, 2008 @01:02PM (#25042287)

    Why bother? There are already simple covers that effectively prevent the red light cameras as it is. Granted a bit of DSP could also eliminate those being effective, so maybe a retractable cover is the right solution.

    They tried a number of these on Myth Busters and none of them could effectively obscure the license plate numbers from the camera.

    Here is a tiny article about it: []

  • (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 17, 2008 @01:12PM (#25042473) [] is actively (legally) working to take down the cameras in Arizona because they are just there to generate revenue, not for any safety reasons. Come join the protest tomorrow, Sept 18th at Scottsdale Road and Shea Blvd, 5pm.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 17, 2008 @01:51PM (#25043015)

    Apparently you aren't aware that the FBI mandated legislation such that all tires manufactured in the US have RFID chips in them.

    This was done some time ago, and by now, most cars have this.

    The OP's premise was quite correct, in that this sensing could be done now, and distinguish your car from other similar models. It's really only a matter of time before this happens.

  • by Danny Rathjens (8471) <`gro.snejhtar' `ta' `2todhsals'> on Wednesday September 17, 2008 @02:13PM (#25043327)
    Welcome to the internet. People here aren't known for telling the truth and like to cut and paste cute stories like this over and over. In fact, here you go, I will do a search on a random phrase from the story ... and viola, here is where it was originally posted in 2007: []
  • Re:heuristics (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday September 17, 2008 @03:01PM (#25044141)

    Did anyone here RTFS? It uses letter recognition to read the license plate. That's all. No sensors.

  • Re:I'm all for it (Score:2, Informative)

    by ishobo (160209) on Wednesday September 17, 2008 @05:27PM (#25045985)

    now they're trying to retry them under double jeopardy!

    Do you pull this shit out of your ass? I would recommened actually reading the article you provided. The jury failed to provide a verdict on some charges, of either guilty or not guilty. The government is going to retry them on the charges. There is no double jeopardy.

"An organization dries up if you don't challenge it with growth." -- Mark Shepherd, former President and CEO of Texas Instruments