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Government Privacy Transportation Your Rights Online

Whose Cameras Are Watching New York Roads? 376

NormalVisual writes "License-plate reading cameras are popping up on utility poles all over St. Lawrence County in upstate New York, but no one is willing to say who they belong to. One camera was found by a utility crew, removed from the pole, and given to the local police. 'Massena Police Chief Timmy Currier said he returned it to the owner, but wouldn't say how he knew who the owner was, nor would he say who he gave it to....(Andrew) McMahon, the superintendent at Massena Electric Department, said one of his crews found a box on one of their poles and took it down because "it was in the electric space," the top tier of wires on the pole above the telephone and cable TV wires, and whoever put it there had taken a chance with electrocution. He said they had never received a request or been informed about its placement.'"
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Whose Cameras Are Watching New York Roads?

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  • Treaspassing (Score:5, Insightful)

    by nurb432 ( 527695 ) on Saturday June 02, 2012 @06:47PM (#40196649) Homepage Journal

    If they didn't have authorization from the city/etc then not only were they doing something a bit on the dangerous side, but its also illegal.

    If they did, then its part of the city network anyway and not a huge deal.

  • by JustShootMe ( 122551 ) <> on Saturday June 02, 2012 @06:49PM (#40196657) Homepage Journal

    I'm not as worried about the existence of the cameras as I am that lots of people seem to know whose they are and no one's telling. That's kind of the antithesis of government transparency. I hope someone sues under FOIA.

  • Re:Treaspassing (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday June 02, 2012 @06:53PM (#40196687)
    Not a huge deal that the city won't acknowledge their existence?
  • Re:Treaspassing (Score:5, Insightful)

    by donaggie03 ( 769758 ) <> on Saturday June 02, 2012 @06:56PM (#40196709)
    What is the point of having these cameras, if not to catch speeders and red-light runners? If those two ARE the point of having these cameras, then people would be receiving citations based on photos from these cameras. So the immediate question that comes to my mind is: are people getting these citations, or not?
  • by fuzzyfuzzyfungus ( 1223518 ) on Saturday June 02, 2012 @07:02PM (#40196747) Journal
    These camera units have to have some sort of clue about their owner(unless they are configured in the not-so-terribly-useful 'record only to local storage, somebody climbs up when it is time to collect" mode). Are they connected to fixed wiring? Do they have a data radio of some flavor? WiFi? Cellular? Any SIM card to be pulled? Serial numbers, vendor information, dates of manufacture, etc, etc.

    Unless somebody went to considerable trouble to do this in some deep-black-ops kind of way, they should leak clues like a sieve once somebody just gives the cops the finger and takes one apart...
  • Re:Obvious (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday June 02, 2012 @07:14PM (#40196871)

    St Lawrence is indeed on the Canadian border. []

    Alternatively, set up your own hidden camera to monitor an existing one 24/7.
    Take the existing camera offline. []
    Record who comes to repair it.
    Post video to YouTube.

  • by JustShootMe ( 122551 ) <> on Saturday June 02, 2012 @07:15PM (#40196885) Homepage Journal

    Not agreeing or disagreeing with your point, but since Mitt isn't going to be any better, according to you, why are you focusing on Obama? Agreed that he is president, but implicit in your statement is an admission that the problem is bigger than Obama.

  • Re:Treaspassing (Score:5, Insightful)

    by whoever57 ( 658626 ) on Saturday June 02, 2012 @07:20PM (#40196927) Journal

    What is the point of having these cameras, if not to catch speeders and red-light runners? If those two ARE the point of having these cameras, then people would be receiving citations based on photos from these cameras.

    My guess would be a three-letter-agency, in the "war on (terror|drugs|communism|whatever)"

  • Re:Treaspassing (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Saturday June 02, 2012 @07:35PM (#40197053)
    Your supreme court agrees you have no expectation of privacy on a public road, now shut the hell up and enjoy your "freedom".
  • by FudRucker ( 866063 ) on Saturday June 02, 2012 @07:38PM (#40197089)
    dont worry, the new boss will be just as shitty as the old boss, at this point in US Politics i do not think voting will fix that corrupted den of vipers in Wash.D.C.
  • by epyT-R ( 613989 ) on Saturday June 02, 2012 @07:39PM (#40197091)

    um what? neither party cares about our freedoms.

  • Re:Treaspassing (Score:5, Insightful)

    by demachina ( 71715 ) on Saturday June 02, 2012 @07:45PM (#40197137)

    DEA has had license plate reading cameras on U.S. highways for a while. In particular they record every car on some routes in California, Texas, Arizona and recently Utah [] using ELSAG cameras though they usually make no attempt to hide them [].

    They analyze the data looking for people transporting drugs from the Mexican border among other things. Maybe they are just expanding the program to watch the traffic along the northern border too.

    So, yea welcome to the big brother police state, we've been in it a while now. Say cheese!!

  • Re:Treaspassing (Score:5, Insightful)

    by kheldan ( 1460303 ) on Saturday June 02, 2012 @08:05PM (#40197295) Journal
    You're assuming that they weren't clandestinely placed by a clandestine three-alphabet-letter government agency.

    If this sort of shit keeps up, I wouldn't be surprised if certain people start destroying ALL public cameras on general principles -- and I wouldn't blame anyone who did. George Orwell must be spinning in his grave about now and/or laughing riotously, wherever he might be, because He Told Us So and we apparently didn't listen.
  • by drnb ( 2434720 ) on Saturday June 02, 2012 @09:48PM (#40197843)

    And voting for Romney with the expectation that he wouldn't be any better, i.e. worse, would be what?

    It would be sending a message to politicians: perform or be thrown out. No consideration for party, no consideration for platform, no consideration for being a nice guy, etc. Pure performance.

    Politicians will not change their behavior until they fear for their jobs. As long as voters are loyal to political parties, platforms, etc things will not change. Politicians need to feel that there is no base they can rely upon.

    Also consider that if you are loyal to a party or platform you are essentially irrelevant. One side can count on your vote and the other side can do nothing to get your vote. Both can ignore you (in their actions, they will probably say the right thing in speeches) with no real negative consequences.

  • by Taco Cowboy ( 5327 ) on Saturday June 02, 2012 @09:49PM (#40197853) Journal

    Is this USA that we are talking about?

    Is this USA where the RULE OF LAW takes precedence ?

    Is this the one and only USA where Liberty is everything?

    How come the Americans just sit there and do nothing when some nefarious 3-letter-agencies get to do whatever they want, whenever they want, where-ever they want?

    If you guys in America are really concern of human rights, start to fight for your own human rights !!

  • by Jackie_Chan_Fan ( 730745 ) on Saturday June 02, 2012 @09:57PM (#40197893)

    if you fight for your rights, they take you away in the night (its the law... no joke)

  • Generally speaking, that's a reasonable position. The twist is that the US system is designed for consultation and compromise. So the Republicans want one thing, the Dems the other and they're suppose to split the difference.

    What the Republicans have discovered is that compromises tend to make the President look good. So they've stopped compromising. Mitch McConnell has been pretty explicit about this: he will only sign off on a Dem proposal if it's something, "...I and my members would do anyway..." [] Most Democratic systems work this way: members of the majority coalition support each other and the minority lodges objections. Therein lies accountability: if you don't like the coalition, throw them out.

    The problem in the US is that the minority party can sabotage and obstruct and reap electoral benefits when the other side fails to get anything done. Indeed, economic sabotage becomes a viable strategy, which explains Republican resistance to stimulus packages and textbook economics: what's in it for them?

    At any rate, if you truly believe what you say, you should vote for Romney, a Democratic House and a Republican Senate. That is, throw the bums out in the legislature *and* the executive. Frankly, I find this nuts: I only support pro-Science parties which for the past 10+ years excludes the GOP. Too bad our winner-take-all voting system blocks the emergence of more choices: a European style conservative party would earn my consideration.

  • Re:Treaspassing (Score:3, Insightful)

    by netmater ( 677317 ) on Saturday June 02, 2012 @10:44PM (#40198185)
    It would be interesting if the next time the power company finds one, they keep it and inform the police department that the "rightful" owner may come by anytime to claim it and pay for the removal expense.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday June 02, 2012 @11:53PM (#40198555)

    No, you are being too reasonable... Put on a performance withing view of the camera, then sue them for copyright infringement. The John doe subpoena should take care of it.

  • Re:FIrst Post (Score:5, Insightful)

    by geminidomino ( 614729 ) on Sunday June 03, 2012 @01:41AM (#40199021) Journal

    "Debugging is twice as hard as writing the code in the first place. Therefore, if you write the code as cleverly as possible, you are, by definition, not smart enough to debug it." --Brian Kernighan

  • by Taco Cowboy ( 5327 ) on Sunday June 03, 2012 @05:30AM (#40199785) Journal

    Sorry? Have you been asleep for the last 10 years?

    I've been observing a big irony in progress ...

    The more Hillary Clinton championing "Human Rights" for people outside of USA, the less "Human Rights" was left for people staying INSIDE the United States of America

  • Re:Treaspassing (Score:1, Insightful)

    by arkane1234 ( 457605 ) on Sunday June 03, 2012 @06:07AM (#40199871) Journal

    And it's quotes like that which turn things from patriotism to borderline terrorism.

  • by Cute Fuzzy Bunny ( 2234232 ) on Sunday June 03, 2012 @10:43AM (#40200959)

    Here's the part I like. Thirty years ago we railed on the soviet union for attacking other sovereign governments and forcing their way of government on them, for imprisoning people without rights or due process, and for a long ugly war in Afghanistan where many civilians were killed in a fairly pointless war. Oh, and for taking away civil liberties from their people and suppressing people with the 'wrong ideas' or for practicing religion. This is how we demonized them to support the spending on covert and direct operations and a military build-up that cost trillions.

    Today we attack other sovereign nations and force democracy on them, we put people up in Guantanamo Bay, and we've had a long ugly war in Afghanistan where many civilians were killed in a pointless war. We've systematically removed rights from our citizens and given them to the police to suppress wars on drugs, terrorism, or whatever the money-waster flavor of the month is. We suppress people with the wrong ideas, and as a Christian nation that was founded by people fleeing religious persecution, we're rather un-christian-like in our treatment of non christians. Now the muslim extremists demonize us on the same grounds that we demonized the Soviets over.

    So we were either wrong then, or wrong now. Maybe both.

"I'm not afraid of dying, I just don't want to be there when it happens." -- Woody Allen