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California Legislature Approves Trial Program For Electronic Plates 185

Do you worry that the widespread use of plate-scanning cameras might be used in ways that violate your privacy ? Now you can ratchet your worry level up a bit: Ars Technica reports that "This week, the California State Senate approved a bill that would create the nation’s first electronic license plate. Having already passed the state’s assembly, the bill now goes to Gov. Jerry Brown (D) for his signature." From the article: "The idea is that rather than have a static piece of printed metal adorned with stickers to display proper registration, the plate would be a screen that could wirelessly (likely over a mobile data network) receive updates from a central server to display that same information. In an example shown by a South Carolina vendor, messages such as 'STOLEN,' 'EXPIRED,' or something similar could also be displayed on a license plate. ... The state senator who introduced the bill, Sen. Ben Hueso, a Democrat who represents San Diego, did not respond to Ars' multiple requests for an interview or comment. It still remains unclear as to exactly why this bill was proposed and what its objectives are. The precise technical details of the program are similarly unclear, as is how long plate information would be retained and who would have access to it."
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California Legislature Approves Trial Program For Electronic Plates

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  • by nimbius ( 983462 ) on Saturday September 07, 2013 @10:42AM (#44783351) Homepage
    no stable system has been proposed, only a concept, and yet we're willing to confide in private industry to fill in the gaps? what happens if a rock hits my expensive plate? how much more will this cost than a traditional plate? whats to prevent me from reverse-engineering the plate and reducing an entire parking garage to STOLEN?

    hundreds of questions remain unanswered. legalizing the plates is one thing but unless there is more transparency in the trial program or its restricted to a small minority of state vehicles i cant see this as any sort of appropriate service to californians from their duly elected government. and given the nature of devops and software engineering in general, isnt it a bit hasty for a "trial program?" Shouldnt this proceed more like googles autonomous driver system as opposed to make;make install; plate.exe; "we're good!" or at very least throw it around the security community and see if we can break it first (im assuming it would be trivial.)
  • Brilliant (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Bill Dimm ( 463823 ) on Saturday September 07, 2013 @10:43AM (#44783359) Homepage

    So, when there is a hit-and-run accident the witnesses will be telling the police to hunt for the car with license plate number "EXPIRED"?

  • Re:A screen (Score:5, Insightful)

    by K. S. Kyosuke ( 729550 ) on Saturday September 07, 2013 @10:43AM (#44783361)

    You don't think thieves would get around that by stealing other cars' license plates and swapping the plate/screen of the stolen car with other non-stolen vehicles?

    Isn't that like stealing the PC display on which some information you want is being displayed, instead of just downloading the information into your own machine?

  • by bkmoore ( 1910118 ) on Saturday September 07, 2013 @11:15AM (#44783505)
    If plates become electronic and networked, then the question needs to be asked, why do we even need a license plate to display a number at all.
  • CNSFSNP tag needed (Score:5, Insightful)

    by wolvesofthenight ( 991664 ) on Saturday September 07, 2013 @11:20AM (#44783541)
    CNSFSNP: Complex Non-Solution For Simple Non-Problem

    Admittedly, idiot is often, but not always, an appropriate alternative term.
  • Oh it's very clear (Score:5, Insightful)

    by WillyWanker ( 1502057 ) on Saturday September 07, 2013 @11:21AM (#44783547)

    Someone in the legislature has ties and is getting kickbacks from the company that makes the technology, so they have a huge financial incentive to push thru this blatantly-invasive technology that will ultimately cost the taxpayers millions of dollars and provide virtually zero benefit.

    See: red light cameras.

  • by ReallyEvilCanine ( 991886 ) on Saturday September 07, 2013 @11:30AM (#44783595) Homepage
    It still remains unclear as to exactly why this bill was proposed and what its objectives are.

    The objective is to make money for the company which paid into Ben Hueso's campaign fund and which, shocker!!, just happens to make exactly this sort of item or has "key patents" on it. Whenever something smells fishy, follow the money. Just ask yourself, "Who stands to benefit financially from this?" and you'll have your answer.

As of next Tuesday, C will be flushed in favor of COBOL. Please update your programs.