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Australia Mulling a Nationwide Vehicle-Tracking System 176

Posted by timothy
from the coming-soon-to-$yourcountry dept.
An anonymous reader writes "It seems that as political support for Australia's version of the national ID card is waning, the powers that be have found a far more effective way to catalog the populace. CrimTrac, an Australian government agency responsible for designing technical solutions to aid policing, is due to hand in a $2.2 million scoping study for the introduction of a nationwide automatic number plate recognition system (ANPR). It seems that as well as ANPR, the system will also collect images of drivers and passengers with high enough resolution for identification purposes. All ANPR data collected would be made available to participating agencies in real time, and retained for five years for future investigations."
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Australia Mulling a Nationwide Vehicle-Tracking System

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  • Can you call the gov't up when you get lost and ask them for directions? "Help! I don't know where am I, but i see a kangaroo and the toilets are flushing backwords"
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by GaryPatterson (852699)

      Surely you're in the bathroom. Just chase the 'roo out.

      Also - Toilets flushing backwards? Doesn't that mean stuff comes *out* of the bowl and flies up at you? Urgh

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by TapeCutter (624760)
        "Also - Toilets flushing backwards? Doesn't that mean stuff comes *out* of the bowl and flies up at you? Urgh"

        As an Aussie I would just like to point out that things do fly out of dunny's - that's why the redbacks live under the seat.
    • Re:on-start service. (Score:4, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward on Sunday September 28, 2008 @04:02AM (#25183039)

      "Help! I don't know where am I, but i see a kangaroo and the toilets are flushing backwords"

      For those whose knowledge of Aussie plumbing is limited to that one episode of the Simpsons, Australian toilets do not flush backwards. The design they use does not produce any swirling motion at all.

      • For those whose knowledge of Aussie plumbing is limited to that one episode of the Simpsons, Australian toilets do not flush backwards.

        Oh thank god, I wouldn't want to shower and shampoo the rug after every use.

        The design they use does not produce any swirling motion at all.

        It doesn't involve a jet engine strapped to the top does it?

  • Yes (Score:5, Funny)

    by oodaloop (1229816) on Sunday September 28, 2008 @03:20AM (#25182911)
    If only we had more data available, we could stop all crime!
    • by jacquesm (154384)

      well since Australia really is nothing but an overgrown prison anyway I'd say they're wasting their money.

      This will also look good to all those people that were thinking of emigrating there. This study was probably funded by the Canadian government ;)

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      If only we had more data available, we could stop all crime!

      but what would we do without politicians?!

      oh, you mean, if only THEY had more data...

    • by mpe (36238)
      If only we had more data available, we could stop all crime!

      It's perfectly possible for too much data to actually hinder activities such as crime prevention and investigation. Someone who dosn't realise this is halfway to creating a positive feedback loop already.
  • Australia Card? (Score:5, Informative)

    by deniable (76198) on Sunday September 28, 2008 @03:26AM (#25182929)

    From the summary: "support for Australia's version of the national ID card is waning." Um, what national ID card?

    So what exactly is the Hawke government going to do now?

    • Re:Australia Card? (Score:5, Informative)

      by a.ameri (665846) on Sunday September 28, 2008 @06:04AM (#25183395)
      Mod parent up. The summary is (as usual) inflammatory and misinformed. There is no scheme, legislation or proposal in Australia or any of its states for a national ID card.

      The closest it got to being implemented was in 1985 during the Hawke government's Australia Card bill. This was at the height of the Hawke Labor government's popularity, and it got the government into so much trouble and lost the government huge capital clout. Hawke dissolved the parliament and held new elections, but still was unable to pass the bill. Later on, a Royal Commission heavily criticised the idea and put the mater to rest. See this [wikipedia.org] for more details.

      ANPR is right now, a "scoping study". Australia is nowhere close to perfect, but it has strong civil institutions, and you can make sure that heads will roll and blood will spill if this gets anywhere close to being proposed as a bill. Since then the law has moved in the complete opposite direction. The Privacy Act (1988) specifically mentions that no unique identifier issued by a government agency or corporation can be used by another entity for the purpose of identification. In practice, this means things such as driver's license number, a Tax File Number (equivalent to U.S SSN), or the medicare number can not be used by any corporation or agency other than the one which issued it in the first place, for identification.

      Right now, this is a classic example in Australia of the state vs. individual liberties, taught in any university course about identity and privacy. I've met many 'ordinary' (read: not politically active) people across all fields of society, from social workers to lawyers and IT managers, and even the newer generation who is too young to remember the debate first hand (like myself) is definitely acquainted with the subject and its implications. So, unless the poster somehow managed to time travel from 1985, "public support for national card in Australia is wanning" is like saying "public support for Hillary's health care bill is wanning" or "public support for president Nixon is wanning".

      The issue did come to surface once again, after former Liberal (which here means Conservative) Prime Minister Howard made some comments about it in 2005 after the London bombings, but even then it was heavily frowned upon and both parties knew better than to include it into their agenda.

      Australia is nowhere close to perfect, but it has strong civil institutions. This is a "scoping study". The moment the study is published, if it recommends anything remotely close to implementing CimTrack's ANPR, you can make sure that heads will roll and blood will spill in the electorate.
      • by aussie_a (778472)

        this means things such as driver's license number, a Tax File Number (equivalent to U.S SSN), or the medicare number can not be used by any corporation or agency other than the one which issued it in the first place, for identification.

        What about a license plate to a car?

      • Australia Choices? (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Ostracus (1354233)

        Certainly a reasonable post. However note to a man not one has discussed to the other side of the issue. How far and by what means should law enforcement do it's job without constituents lambasting them for their failures (and they will most assuredly fail)? A weighty question, but then privacy is weighty and plenty have commentary on that.

      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by andersking (1201889)

        There is no scheme, legislation or proposal in Australia or any of its states for a national ID card.

        We possibly got close with the "Access Card" though. This is, i think, what the summary was refering to. http://www.australianit.news.com.au/story/0,24897,19450464-15441,00.html [news.com.au]

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        by rohan972 (880586)

        The Privacy Act (1988) specifically mentions that no unique identifier issued by a government agency or corporation can be used by another entity for the purpose of identification. In practice, this means things such as driver's license number, a Tax File Number (equivalent to U.S SSN), or the medicare number can not be used by any corporation or agency other than the one which issued it in the first place, for identification.

        Interesting theory, but your TFN is probably known by your employer, your bank, centrelink (social security), your superannuation fund as well as the tax office. Of course, you don't have to give it, you could just pay 46.5% tax instead. Now that's freedom of choice to keep your privacy! With the growth of the Family Tax Benefit and other centrelink payments a very large proportion of the population is on some form of government payment. Since many of them have the government take it from one hand as PAYG t

  • load the band up onto the back of a flatbed truck, then hoon around while pretending to perform.

    request the resulting footage under the freedom of information laws, then release as the video to your latest single.

  • by Jane Q. Public (1010737) on Sunday September 28, 2008 @03:44AM (#25182979)
    A long stick, a roll of duct tape, and a can of spray paint will trump even the most expensive traffic cameras.
    • by Dan541 (1032000)

      Alternatively you can just mount the kerb, it's allot easier.

    • by Fumus (1258966)
      That's why I have my plates drawn CAPTCHA-style, fo!
    • by mangu (126918)

      A long stick, a roll of duct tape, and a can of spray paint will trump even the most expensive traffic cameras.

      That's why they need *more* cameras, so the other cameras will catch you doing that.

  • by rolfwind (528248) on Sunday September 28, 2008 @04:24AM (#25183105)

    but only if it's to tag known criminals.

    That means the politicians have to get one first.

    • by jamesh (87723) on Sunday September 28, 2008 @05:20AM (#25183271)

      I know you were kind of joking, but I think that would be a great test for any new law like this. Something to go in the constitution. Any politician voting to approve any new monitoring law has to make all data collected about them (and their family?) publicly available in as near to real time as possible for the duration of their term of office, and a few years afterward, just to make sure.

      If the law gets in, the monitoring is only put in on a trial basis for (say) 6 months, after which the politicians are given the opportunity to change their mind about their vote (eg the law is put to vote again).

      If any politician doesn't want to vote for such a law on that basis, then that's probably a pretty good indicator that the law is too intrusive.

  • Spending millions to billions of dollars to put in place a system that people don't want, spending hundreds of dollars per camera when they are totally vulnerable to being disabled at any time for mere pennies, is a BAD IDEA!!!
  • Privacy Masks? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by EdIII (1114411) * on Sunday September 28, 2008 @05:11AM (#25183249)

    People will start wearing masks.

    Personally, I have always wanted an excuse to wear a burqa. Yes, I am serious too. When we get to the point that facial recognition is everywhere I am just going to start obscuring my face. If I have to do that then I want to be comfortable doing it. Naked underneath a burqa seems to be a good place to start. I am only half kidding.

    That will be a pretty weird looking world when you have to protect yourself head to toe to obtain a little privacy.

    You think it won't happen? You think I am overdoing it a little? They are going to keep that data for FIVE YEARS. You think they won't sell access to it, illegally or otherwise? Of course they will. You better not cheat on your wife or girlfriend. Go to happy finish massage parlors in the middle of day. Basically do anything you want to be private, since it will be a trivial matter to find out EVERYWHERE you have been for the last 5 years.

    • by 4D6963 (933028)
      Masks? Wow, that's a good idea. I was rather considering waiting until 2054 and inject myself with something very painful that makes my face turn very ugly just like Tom Cruise did in Minority Report. But yeah, a mask, that's a good idea too..
    • by couchslug (175151)

      "You better not cheat on your wife or girlfriend. Go to happy finish massage parlors in the middle of day. Basically do anything you want to be private, since it will be a trivial matter to find out EVERYWHERE you have been for the last 5 years."

      There IS a way to deal with that, which is to flaunt that which would normally be restrained by "shame" and conventional mores. Grow an "outlaw biker" (the real ones) attitude and just don't give a fuck, and encourage others to behave likewise. Creative ways to mani

    • I thought of that too, except that it's already outlawed to wear most types of masks in public "because then we can't ID you if you *might* be a criminal!!"

      But yes, I see this as a major flashpoint, and it would open up the next fashion wave.

      • by EdIII (1114411) *

        That is why you wear a burqa.

        1) It is an expression of your religious beliefs.
        2) If they demand to lift up the burqa, you inform them before hand you are naked and request a female officer.
        3) If the female officer wishes to know why you have a penis, you tell her that you born that way but medical science will correct God's mistake soon enough.

        Believe it or not, ALL of that will fly in court. It does already. Look up case law (in the US at least) about transvestites and pre-op transexuals having rights to

  • and (highly reflective) sun-vizor
  • Countermeasures? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by jcr (53032) <jcrNO@SPAMmac.com> on Sunday September 28, 2008 @05:43AM (#25183349) Journal

    Ok, this is a technical problem begging for a technical solution. What's it take to detect cameras and hit them with a laser? A watt or so should do to fry the image sensor.

    -jcr

    • Use IR laser diodes (Score:3, Interesting)

      by cheros (223479)

      An IR laser diode that is left unfocused will do the trick.
      It won't zap the sensor, but unless they have used a decent IR filter it will saturate the chip to the point of not registering anything else.

      Reasons why you may want to avoid doing this:
      - no idea if there will be retinal damage if someone else looks at it
      - ANY camera will get upset, so an traffic monitoring will show up your car as worthy of close inspection
      - AFAIK, anything that hinders reading your license plate by whatever means is illegal (it i

    • by Mike89 (1006497)
      Does anybody remember the Slashdot article about some 'emerging tech' which, when detecting a flash, would fire an image backwards through a lens.. and thus project it for a brief second such that it was part of the photo? It was on here this year. If this was easy to do and not patented (it is), it'd be easy to beat speed cameras. Just flash back an image saying FUCK YOU.
    • by TaoPhoenix (980487) * <TaoPhoenix@yahoo.com> on Sunday September 28, 2008 @12:31PM (#25185653) Journal

      "Jcr is a suspect for damaging government property, because the camera was working just fine as of 11:38:13 seconds and ceased to work at 11:38:15 after his vehicle passed."

      Gang,

      in its various incarnations including the rest of YRO, this is *the* signature theme of our century. It's gonna take something really culturally decisive to resolve this. Simple "low level" tricks will not quite work.

      The reason why is that cumulatively, the ideas proposed so far have been logically inconsistent! Unfortunately, prosecuting attorneys seem to enjoy crushing people with logically inconsistent motivations.

      I don't have the answers. All I know is that the macro problem is *really tough*.

      • by jcr (53032)

        This is why the countermeasure devices should be stuck on the back of police cars while they're parked at the doughnut shop.

        -jcr

  • I'm actually okay with this, assuming its all automated, and the police require a warrant to gain any information from the system (and they can only get the information specified by the warrant).

    • ... And you trust your govt. to follow all those rules? That's just it - why should they? Bush has broken the spirit of the laws more times than popcorn in a large movie bucket.

      • by aussie_a (778472)

        If the police want they can break into my home, use a confiscated weapon (not declared) and then kill all of us. They probably won't get caught. And yet I trust them not to do this. Having cameras is the least of what I trust the police with.

  • The thing people who try to impose crap like this never seem to realize is that it's easy to track honest people as they go about their daily business. People with bad intent can usually defeat systems like this with about five minutes' thought. Meanwhile, the information being collected infallibly winds up being spread around to friends of the collectors. Canadian Social Insurance Numbers were assigned exclusively for tax purposes. Now, you get video store clerks asking for your SIN when you apply for

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