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Government Privacy The Almighty Buck Transportation United Kingdom Your Rights Online

UK Plan Would Use CCTV To Stop Uninsured Drivers From Refueling 691

Mr_Blank writes "Cameras at UK petrol stations will automatically stop uninsured or untaxed vehicles from being filled with fuel, under new government plans. Downing Street officials hope the hi-tech system will crack down on the 1.4 million motorists who drive without insurance. Automatic number plate recognition (ANPR) cameras are already fitted in thousands of petrol station forecourts. Drivers can only fill their cars with fuel once the camera has captured and logged the vehicle's number plate. Currently the system is designed to deter motorists from driving off without paying for petrol. But under the new plans, the cameras will automatically cross-refererence with the DVLA's huge database."
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UK Plan Would Use CCTV To Stop Uninsured Drivers From Refueling

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  • by nten ( 709128 ) on Thursday March 15, 2012 @10:12AM (#39363497)

    what are the laws in the UK on nearband IR ground effects lighting?

    • by GuldKalle ( 1065310 ) on Thursday March 15, 2012 @10:27AM (#39363675)

      I assume you want to block the ANPR.

      Drivers can only fill their cars with fuel once the camera has captured and logged the vehicle's number plate.

    • by mr1911 ( 1942298 ) on Thursday March 15, 2012 @10:33AM (#39363769)
      Why put so much effort into getting around the system rather than voting the douchebags that come up with this stuff out of office and taking your government back?

      Comment not limited to the Brits. The US government needs a good housecleaning as well.
      • by denis-The-menace ( 471988 ) on Thursday March 15, 2012 @10:39AM (#39363865)

        Add Canadians to the list.

        We are currently going through our "Bush" phase.

      • by cpu6502 ( 1960974 ) on Thursday March 15, 2012 @10:48AM (#39364023)

        The law is the law - you must have insurance in your EU or US state. Whether that law is enforced with human eyes or camera eyes really makes no difference (IMHO). I have to waste ~$300 a year to insure other drivers & their cars in case I hit them..... I don't see why anyone else thinks they shouldn't have to pay the bill too.

        • by Theophany ( 2519296 ) on Thursday March 15, 2012 @10:54AM (#39364119)
          Fucking A. However, I'd be more excited if this initiative resulted in falling car insurance premiums, which I doubt it will. Just yesterday I was quoted between £4,000 and £12,000 for car insurance for a 7 year old Honda S2000, despite having over 5 years NCB, never having had a speeding ticket, never having had any motoring convictions AND agreeing to have a tracker box fitted to the car.

          People who drive uninsured don't do it just because they're all dicks (admittedly, many of them are), but because they're priced out of the freaking market by companies with a license to print money.

          On an unrelated note, fuel prices are ~70% tax ffs. And these government shitheads honestly cannot work out why people break the law?
          • by Canazza ( 1428553 ) on Thursday March 15, 2012 @11:19AM (#39364509)

            Sounds like these people need to Go Compare! They're so Money Supermarket they don't even know it. Comparing the Market is Simples.

            The UK has such an industry in Car insurance that Industry hints and tips have been automated into websites that are entirely their OWN industry. All with their own REALLY annoying adverts.

        • by Karzz1 ( 306015 ) on Thursday March 15, 2012 @10:55AM (#39364141) Homepage
          I don't think anyone disputes the necessity of auto insurance or the laws requiring it. What is at discussion is what is probably a broken implementation of a Draconian scheme.

          Imagine the day that Anonymous DDOS's the database used to authorize fuel dispensing.
          • Imagine the day that Anonymous DDOS's the database used to authorize fuel dispensing.

            You're correct. That's the day we realise the implementation is broken, but not for the reasons you think. You see, that's the day the petrol station sells out of portable fuel containers, and we simply carry the fuel from the pump to our cars.

        • by miltonw ( 892065 ) on Thursday March 15, 2012 @11:23AM (#39364567)
          Sure! Why worry? You've already "agreed" that the government can track your car's movements, what's wrong with this next step: Allowing the government to control your car's movement. With this system they can automatically deny you fuel, what could possibly go wrong? You are "not doing anything wrong" so "you have nothing to worry about", right?

          It's all controlled by computers and they never have glitches, they never have bad data. No government employee would accidentally or on purpose screw with your data. The government would never use this to deny fuel to innocent (but "suspicious") people. No!

          Nothing to worry about. Go back to sleep.
        • by sl4shd0rk ( 755837 ) on Thursday March 15, 2012 @11:27AM (#39364615)

          Whether that law is enforced with human eyes or camera eyes really makes no difference

          Yes, actually it does. "enforcing the law" with Orwellian bullshit is not really enforcing the law as much as it is eroding your rights to privacy.

          Require proof of insurance in order to renew registration every year. There. Fixed. And nobody has to spy on anyone at the gas station.

        • by Mister Whirly ( 964219 ) on Thursday March 15, 2012 @12:12PM (#39365419) Homepage

          I have to waste ~$300 a year to insure other drivers & their cars in case I hit them

          Ah, but there is a way to beat the system on this. Remember the money isn't "wasted" if you actually go out and hit the other cars...

      • by jo_ham ( 604554 ) <> on Thursday March 15, 2012 @10:48AM (#39364039)

        Why so much hate?

        The ANPR system is already widespread in the UK (although the headline seems to suggest this is new, it is not).

        At gas stations it is generally used to catch bilking after the fact (ie, once the drive off has already happened), and is used elsewhere (eg, in police vehicles and on static cameras that watch the main motorway routes) to catch uninsured and untaxed drivers.

        The overwhelming majority of fuel theft (in the form of drive offs) is committed by uninsured drivers, and adding a further obstacle to keep the dickheads off the road in the first place can only be a benefit.

        At present the DVLA's database is not perfect so as it stands there would be a small but non-trivial number of false positives (too high for a system that prevents fuelling as a binary choice) but it is very easy to correct genuine mistakes. It might even be beneficial for those who are flagged incorrectly in the DB since they would have a chance to sort it out (reporting correct details to the DVLA and making sure your insurance is valid is *your* responsibility) before being pulled over by a police interceptor while you're on the motorway or something (thus wasting both your and the police's time sorting out the mistake).

        Let's not paint this as a "the government can't tell me what to do! freedom! rah!" issue - there is no "right" to drive a car, and you have no innate "right" to buy fuel for it from a private business that specialises in selling such flammable liquids to the public. If you're driving around uninsured then, honestly, fuck you - get your uninsured pile of shit off the public road so you don't crash into someone and cause them all manner of headaches because you *are not insured*.

        • by sarysa ( 1089739 )
          The more the UK implemens things like this, the more pressure will be put on them to fix whatever social problems they may have. I don't live in the UK but I know what it's like to be poor. I know that car is just not optional if anything resembling success, or getting out of the miserable rut you're in, is important to you. So yeah, from my own experiences I do have sympathy for those who break the rules. If the system is broken, people have to do what they need to make it in soiety. If the UK keeps makin
          • I don't live in the UK ... I know that car is just not optional

            Then you'd be wrong. I live in the UK, will be 30 in a couple of months, and have never owned a car, nor felt the need to own one.

        • by Anne Thwacks ( 531696 ) on Thursday March 15, 2012 @02:34PM (#39368053)
          but it is very easy to correct genuine mistakes.

          Have you tried? We bought a car which had been cloned - after the clone had crashed into school gates and the driver locked up. We spent more than 6 months dealing with police and local authorities damanding payment for things that happened to the other (clone) car, before we owned the original. The people running this system cold not run a bath, they are so incompetent.I am in favour of compulsory insurance, but only when the same degree of regulation applies to the insurance companies as applies to the insured. (I am also in favour of public lynchings for the people running some of the insurance companies at present).

          As for the clown that said "if you can afford a car, you can afford to insure it" you do realise that you can by a perfectly usable three year old car for about £2,500, but the (3rd party) insurance for someone under 25 is likely over £5,000 in London.

          Can someone at /. explain why my pounds have mysteriously become Australian or something?

      • by Xest ( 935314 ) on Thursday March 15, 2012 @11:18AM (#39364483)

        I'm actually struggling to see why the first few posts on Slashdot are suggestions that this is somehow a bad thing. If ever there was a decent use for ANPR, this is it. My insurance has rocketed in recent years and my commute gets increasingly busy over time. Getting illegal drivers off the road? Yes please.

        Getting many of the little uninsured scrotes off the road with this sort of thing can only be a good thing IMO. Less chance of me being out of pocket for some arsehole that never passed his driving test and/or never bothered to pay for insurance and/or crashed into me because he lost control of his car because it wasn't road worthy and he didn't bother to get an MOT? Please, sign me up.

        Really, if there's concern about feature creep and it being used to tell where I go for petrol each week then I already have bigger worries - knowing which petrol station I go to each week is a lot smaller concern for me than the fact the local supermarkets knowing how often I shop at them, and what I buy down to the most personal level in comparison. Tracking my petrol purchases would be small fry relative to all the other data that's being tracked about me in every day life and at least this would give me the tangible benefit of lower insurance premiums.

        I don't see how defeating this at the ballot box would be in any way "taking your government back", unless you're assuming that everyone here is one of those afformentioned uninsured scrotes who would benefit from a government that doesn't want to go after drivers breaking the law at the expense of those who do not? This is one of those rare instances of my government working for me, not against me, and knee jerk responses simply because of the mere mention of CCTV in the topic are retarded. Not all CCTV usage is inherently bad - it's not like petrol station forecourts are even public spaces.

  • Riiiight (Score:5, Insightful)

    by chronosan ( 1109639 ) on Thursday March 15, 2012 @10:13AM (#39363507)
    What's to stop someone from filling a jerry can with gas and then fuelling their car, or can lawnmower and chainsaw operators no longer buy gas?
    • Re:Riiiight (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 15, 2012 @10:15AM (#39363529)


    • by tepples ( 727027 )

      or can lawnmower and chainsaw operators no longer buy gas?

      Taxation of lawn mowers that aren't electric, pushed as an emission control measure.

    • Re:Riiiight (Score:4, Insightful)

      by PPH ( 736903 ) on Thursday March 15, 2012 @10:22AM (#39363623)

      An Arkansas credit card []?
      I'm sure you folks in the UK have a locale suitable to this definition.

    • Re:Riiiight (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Dhalka226 ( 559740 ) on Thursday March 15, 2012 @10:24AM (#39363649)

      Why is it that geeks always need something to be flawless before they find it worth consideration?

      If the worst this system produces is people using gas cans, it's a victory. There will be people who will find the inconvenience enough incentive to get their insurance which is exactly the goal. Since the technology is largely already there, the database check shouldn't be a significant additional cost. (Who knows with government mandates though.)

      If there is a reason to oppose this it would be the fears of Big Brother and the ability of government to know almost exactly where you are every moment you are in country. Still, with due respect to our British friends, it seems like that ship sailed a while ago. If they're (going to be) doing it, it won't require this program.

      • by Idbar ( 1034346 )
        No, because if people have no money and it's careless enough to not pay insurance/taxes/etc. Then probably will carry the can and who knows what's the next accident waiting to happen.

        It needs to be taken into consideration, because if you put a rule in place there will be a couple of people trying to bypass it and the consequences of the "bypass" need to be carefully analyzed. Such as black markets, and/or reckless people carrying flammable products around.
        • Re:Riiiight (Score:5, Interesting)

          by stabiesoft ( 733417 ) on Thursday March 15, 2012 @11:17AM (#39364473) Homepage

          Yes, not good to underestimate the unintended consequences. Here in TX, they boosted the penalty of drunk driving especially when hitting someone. Now, when people hit someone drunk, they run if the car is still mobile, and then quickly go to a bar. Why? Because the penalty for hit & run is so much less. By going to a bar, a blood alcohol test can't be used to determine if you were drunk when you hit them. So now you are just charged with the lessor offence of hit & run.

      • There will be people who will find the inconvenience enough incentive to get their insurance which is exactly the goal.

        Of course, this neatly side-steps the issue of mandating drivers give money to private organizations that have huge profit margins every quarter, can deny a claim on a whim and have an inpenetrable bureauacracy within which appeals against said whims can prevail. One might argue it is unethical to pay drivers to pay arbitrary amounts of money based on age, sex, style of house they live in, occupation, etc., -- none of which are related to their driving ability or condition of vehicle, which are the only two

    • What's to stop someone from filling a jerry can with gas and then fuelling their car, or can lawnmower and chainsaw operators no longer buy gas?

      The only people effected by this at all are people walking to the gas station to go buy gas, everyone else will drive there. The real question that should be asked is why the hell should private businesses be compelled to install these. I can't believe the UK doesn't have any protections, what's next forcing gas stations to administer glucose tests to customers if they want to buy junk food.

  • by prefect42 ( 141309 ) on Thursday March 15, 2012 @10:15AM (#39363527)

    This would work just fine if the database was correct, which it simply isn't. Delays in getting information updated would mean you having a fully licenses, taxes, MOTed, and insured car that you couldn't fill up with petrol. So there'd need to be a way of overriding it, which puts a whole lot of pressure on the vendor.

    Nice in theory, but I don't see it working. That doesn't mean I don't see it happening.

    • by TheLink ( 130905 )
      How about cars from France and elsewhere?
      • We already give foreigners a cushty ride on driving penalties, I don't imagine this will be any different.

  • by Shivetya ( 243324 ) on Thursday March 15, 2012 @10:15AM (#39363531) Homepage Journal

    if your going to be a police state then by all means do it right.

    I guess they will need a black market for gasoline as well. Do they have seat belt laws? Baby seat laws? Why stop at not letting gas up because of lack of insurance. There are all so many wonderfully invasive things they can do.

    • Because that's expensive. Seriously. If they could have police everywhere, they'd not have uninsured cars on the road.

    • by jo_ham ( 604554 ) <> on Thursday March 15, 2012 @10:29AM (#39363707)

      There already is a black market for gasoline and diesel. You can buy it tax-free from all sorts of places if you know where to look, and it's a huge, huge source of revenue loss for the government because fuel is so expensive here (you yanks whine and moan about $4 per gallon, I would be ecstatic for prices that absurdly cheap). The most common offenders are cab drivers running their cars on red diesel bought from black market fuel stations. (red diesel is so called because it is for farm and construction vehicle use and not for use on the road and thus sold tax free. It is dyed red to make it easily identifiable.)

      And yes, we do have seat belt laws, and baby/car seat laws.

    • The real black market will be for license tags recently stolen from vehicles with paid up insurance.

    • by gnasher719 ( 869701 ) on Thursday March 15, 2012 @10:36AM (#39363825)

      if your going to be a police state then by all means do it right.

      What do you mean by "police state"? If some f***ing idiot thinks he or she can drive around with an uninsured car, which hasn't been tested for roadworthiness (because you can't get an MOT without insurance), leaving everyone else to pay for the damage to cause, then most people in Britain would want their cars to be taken away and destroyed.

  • Will the clerks in bulletproof glass / cages as I can see some taking it out on them or forcing them to hit the over ride button.

    • by jo_ham ( 604554 )

      Very few drivers here are armed. Handguns are just not common here by any stretch of the imagination, despite what the sensationalist media would have you believe.

      Even fewer are going to shoot at a petrol station attendant in the presence of blanket forecourt and in-building CCTV.

      Most petrol stations here already have window service only at late hours, also.

  • Correction (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Manip ( 656104 ) on Thursday March 15, 2012 @10:17AM (#39363569)
    The UK already uses CCTV cameras on a massive scale to catch uninsured cars. Our motorways have cameras over every lane which track the numberplate and this information can both be used to calculate average speed over a section of road (to enforce speed limits) and also to check for insured, banned drivers, or stolen vehicles.

    This is less a new idea as the /. summary implies and more just an expansion of an existing project.
    • Re:Correction (Score:4, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward on Thursday March 15, 2012 @10:25AM (#39363661)

      be used to calculate average speed over a section of road (to enforce speed limits)

      As someone who has been up and down the motorways of the country at quite a lot faster than would activate your regular speed camera I can state that, unless they are marked as used for speed enforcement, they aren't used for speed enforcement. Yes, the kit is there, and it might be possible, but it isn't done.

      Hmmm... Should probably check that "Post Anonymously" box.

      • by Manip ( 656104 )
        The cameras used for average speed are also used for ANPR checks however. Some cameras are just for ANPR/monitoring and some are just traffic monitoring in general. Depends on the camera and location.
        • The colour of the camera also matters, I believe the colour code goes: blue traffic master (congestion reporting), green, law enforcement CCTV and yellow speed cameras

    • The insurance angle is probably just an excuse to further expand the tracking of the entire population. Why not just put a black box in every vehicle and be done with it?
    • Re:Correction (Score:5, Insightful)

      by jimbolauski ( 882977 ) on Thursday March 15, 2012 @10:57AM (#39364169) Journal

      The UK already uses CCTV cameras on a massive scale to catch uninsured cars. Our motorways have cameras over every lane which track the numberplate and this information can both be used to calculate average speed over a section of road (to enforce speed limits) and also to check for insured, banned drivers, or stolen vehicles. This is less a new idea as the /. summary implies and more just an expansion of an existing project.

      This is a very new idea, forcing a gas station to install and use this system, that is very different from cameras in public places. Having license plate scanning cameras in public areas is not an issue, as it is in public and there is no expectation of privacy. The big issue is not the public's right to privacy but the gas station owner's right to sell gas to whom ever he chooses. This is not a slippery slope, this is the beginning of the government forcing private business sell to whom ever the government sees fit to sell to. The outrage shouldn't be over privacy issues of the customers, it should be over the intrusion of the government on these businesses.

  • by Jonathan_S ( 25407 ) on Thursday March 15, 2012 @10:18AM (#39363575)

    Wonderful, when the inevitable errors in the database occur you'll be stranded at some random gas station. Nothing in that article about how you could prove their database was incorrect or out of date.

    At least if an officer ran your plate and stopped you you could provide proof of insurance, showing their database entry was wrong.

  • If this becomes operational, I wouldn't be surprised if unpaid fines were added to the list soon.

  • Another revolution, and a new Magna Carta? This time, make sure that your founding documents say very clearly that the people are not the property of the state, and that the state exists to secure the rights of the people, not to compel them to obedience to the desires of the political class.


  • how about jacking up the price of gas to buy insurance as you go? this would have the added side effect of making people think twice about driving 4 blocks to run an errand and buying giant gas guzzler vehicles. yeah, yeah, some issues about lawn mowers and such, but we could work out a system for that I'd think.

    • by jo_ham ( 604554 ) <> on Thursday March 15, 2012 @11:05AM (#39364289)

      This is the UK, where we already drive high efficiency vehicles (my own is a minivan that does over 45 mpg [US adjusted figure] and is only middle of the road for efficiency) and pay $8-9 per gallon for fuel. We already think twice about driving short distances for errands.

      Adding the insurance to fuel would disproportionately hurt people and industries that drive for a living (truckers, haulage firms, salesmen, on-call service engineers etc).

      The UK is not a market where "gas guzzlers" are at all common. More than 50% of vehicles sold are diesels, for that very reason (higher efficiency, cheaper to run).

  • Years ago, it wasn't that uncommon for thieves to siphon fuel out of someone else's petrol tank in the middle of the night. This led to central-locking fuel caps in cars which were harder to break into. I wonder if this will just incentivise people enough (who, let's face it, are already criminals by definition if they are driving uninsured) to overcome the resistance this created...
  • by Jiro ( 131519 ) on Thursday March 15, 2012 @10:58AM (#39364179)

    They don't try to give the lawbreakers a fighting chance.

    It seems like most of the complaints here are because people think this will work. It feels wrong that you actually cannot get away with breaking the law.

    Think about it: Do you think it's a bad law to prohibit uninsured motorists? Do you think the police are likely to abuse this? (It uses existing cameras. If the police wanted to abuse it they can abuse the existing cameras already.) No? Then exactly what is your objection, other than that it doesn't seem fair that there's no way to get around it?

    • by mbone ( 558574 )

      Don't be stupid. Of course this will be abused. They abuse the existing cameras already, not to mention wasting a farcical amount of money on them.

      This will give the state more power than the old internal passports of the Soviet Union. Anyone the state disapproves of could be easily made unable to travel. If you think that the British state is to be trusted with such powers, then you need to pay more attention.

    • by wcrowe ( 94389 )

      My objection has nothing to do with the police enforcing the law. I despise people who drive without insurance. But the effect of this law will be to create a black market for fuel. This creates its own new set of problems.

  • by mbone ( 558574 ) on Thursday March 15, 2012 @11:17AM (#39364475)

    What is wrong with the United Kingdom ? When did they go so far off the rails ?

    (Yes, I know that you could ask the same question about the US, but this is not an article about the US and, if anything, things seem to be deteriorating faster there.)

  • by Dark$ide ( 732508 ) on Thursday March 15, 2012 @12:01PM (#39365179) Journal
    Couple of flaws with this:
    1. How about that 25 litre jerry can that I'm filling so I can run my petrol mower?
    2. We're going to see more cars/vans/lorries with cut fuel lines as the theives move from the drive away theft to the theft of legally purchased fuel.
  • by RandCraw ( 1047302 ) on Thursday March 15, 2012 @12:05PM (#39365261)

    So if the camera fails to see your license plate you get no gas? Clever. I'm sure that another car or truck will never obstruct the camera's view, that snow will never obscure the plate, that fog will never blur the plate letters, that the plate will always be adequately illuminated, that the cameras will never break down, that the license database will always be up-to-date and on-line. No flies in THAT ointment, no sir.

    All this fal-de-ral just to make sure that a few people pay their vehicle tax? Why not simply require everyone to pay their tax annually when they register their vehicle? Put a sticker on the windshield showing that the tax was paid, LIKE THEY DO EVERYWHERE ELSE.

    Or if you must monitor everyone's tax status minute-by-minute, have everyone carry a tax-paid UPC fob that is scannable by a credit card swiper (or an attendant) when you pay for your gas? Would that cost, oh perhaps, a BILLION pounds less than buying and wiring up multiple spy cameras for every service station in the UK?

    Who comes up with ideas this overcomplex, ineffective, and brain damaged? Newt Gingrich's british cousin?

Your password is pitifully obvious.