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Fox News informs us that, “(A)utomatic license plate readers — like the one that helped crack the (Walter) Bailey murder case and send his killer to prison for life — and the company that manufactures them are under fire from a tech watchdog that found more than 100 of the systems streaming live on the web, potentially compromising personal information of countless Americans.” Wait. A government-operated, web-accessible database? What could possibly go wrong? Well, there’s this: “The Electronic Frontier Foundation’s study found footage from stationary cameras, which scan license plates and generate personal data on the car’s registrant, was being posted online — and with no password protection. One such camera was monitoring activity at a University of Southern California frat house, while another was trained on a Florida gun shop, according to the group . . .

And you thought 4473s were the only potential threat to a lawful gun buyer’s privacy.

“Anyone in favor of the Second Amendment, I’m sure, could have a problem with that,” Dave Maass, an EFF researcher and co-author of the report, told

Why yes. Yes, we do. Particularly since federal gun registration is (ostensibly) illegal. And the Gunshine State outlaws it, too.

“If you plugged certain keywords into Shodan, the site retrieved hundreds of PIPS [manufactured] camera systems connected to the Internet, often with control panels open and completely accessible through a Web browser,” the report said. Maass said anyone could watch the live stream and learn information about license plate numbers.

The story doesn’t divulge which Florida gun shop was being monitored, or the jurisdiction that’s trained its eye in the sky on their parking lot. You can probably see how that might put a dent in their business.

In a lot of jurisdictions using the PIPS system, access is about as rigorously secured as Hillary’s email server. Anyone curious enough could log in and check out the personal details of those patronizing that Florida gun store…and who knows how many others not mentioned in the report. But come on…it’s no big deal, really. Seriously, who could possibly be interested in that kind of information?

The next obvious question – after asking who forgot to set up basic password protection – is, what are the jurisdictions themselves doing with all the accumulated data? Oh, and does anyone know where we can get one of these?

[h/t Tom in Oregon]

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  1. Love it when people talk about this sh_t like it’s not their a-hole neighbors needing jobs, who just kicked in your door and fondled your son in th shower.
    Your neighbors (my neighbors) are obviously uppity, and we’re constantly having our suspicions confirmed that they are abusive of their authority, and use their powers to protect you, solely against you.

  2. Aw c’mon guys, privacy is only for guilty people with something to hide. I think all of these surveillance cameras should transmit all information to our trustworthy government and state sponsored media at all times.
    Remember, the government and state sponsored media are the protective watchdogs of our global village.

    • “I would love to have one of these trained on Shannon’s house.”

      Dirk, I can visualize you in sweats and a hoodie climbing a tree outside Shannon’s window to plant a camera hidden in a bird’s nest… (Remember, aim it at the door from the shower to the bedroom…)


  3. Don’t blame “the government “. Libertarians progressives conservatives socialist, everyone has demanded the government use cameras to spy on those they do not like .
    You hate cops now cameras are in police cars, jails, now carried on police officers bodies. Why does a police officer need to read you your 4th amendment rights? If he doesn’t will the body camera video be ordered erased? I don’t think so. Even Reason Magazine has stories on the loss of privacy because of video camera use.

    The genie is out of the bottle. The cameras are here to stay. The city government of San Francisco wanted private camera video of legal gun store business activity without a warrent. I remember when homosexuals in San Francisco sued to prevent the government from spying on them during their private sexual activity in public bathrooms.
    Now it seems it is ok to film as long as it involves someone you do not like. I wonder what the homosexual power city of San Francisco is doing with the video camera footage they control?

    • “The genie is out of the bottle. The cameras are here to stay.”

      Yea, internet monitoring, security cameras everywhere, TSA grope searches, CBP internal checkpoints, state run healthcare, state standardized cirruculum and testing for education, one can go on and on with the stuff that is happening today.

      What worres me is when you take this 10 or 20 years out.

      The kind of society this is leading us into has me very worried for the world my children will have to live in.

      No one seems to be talking about the value of liberty and freedom anymore. The courts seem to always rule in favor of increased state power and ignore the rights of the people, indeed ignore the constitution outright, which itself is in plain black and white, just a few pages and easily understandable by any non-lawyer who can read english.

      Your neighbors and fellow citizens barely know what’s happening – ask them.

      Creeping incrementalism, decade after decade, going in one direction only.

      As trite as it may sound, to say that the communists are literally hanging us with the rope we sold them describes things perfectly.

      • internet monitoring, security cameras everywhere, TSA grope searches, CBP internal checkpoints, state run healthcare, state standardized cirruculum and testing for education

        Not to mention warrantless colonoscopies.

      • There are some great Sci Fi B movies with government camera surveillance as a subject made in the 1950s and 1960s.
        The problem is the movies were set in about the years 2010 to about 2090.

        • “There are some great Sci Fi B movies with government camera surveillance as a subject made in the 1950s and 1960s.”

          Well, ‘1984’ was 31 years ago, and none of that has happened yet…

          Ugh. So much for that theory.


  4. The “internet of things” relies too heavily on consumers knowing what they’re doing.
    As it is people don’t understand totally basic shit like what a browser is. Most everyone with a computer just sits down and starts mindlessly clicking never stopping to think about what they’re doing or how they’re doing it.
    A global “internet of things” is an absolute dream come true for any pervert/thief/despot/tyrant/voyeur out there and a society of morons installing and using tools they don’t understand is a recipe for disaster. No, politicians/authorities and a great deal of so-called “professionals” do not understand.

    Either we step up the education game and bring anyone who wishes to adopt this stuff up to speed, we abandon them all to lives of abuse and ignorance, or we accept that the world is 90% retards playing with fire and because of that fact acknowledge that none of this will ever be secure or accurate or safe or worth anything concrete at all to anyone ever.

  5. A teeny bit off subject, but here’s a friendly tip to avoid getting a ticket from those photo red light / photo speeding tickets.
    For you married folks with two cars- have the car you primarily drive registered in your spouses name only, and the car your spouse drives primarily solely registered in your name.
    If you accidentally get one of those automated tickets, it won’t fly. You check the box that says it wasn’t me, and send it back.
    (Note: it’s likely only going to work with hetero couples)

    I can’t stand this automated sky-net, futuristic government intrusion BS.

    • Doesn’t matter. The ticket is issued against the vehicle bearing the plate. Registered owner is still on the hook. I got one for an inadverant red light. Still had to cough up the cash. What ticks me off is that here in Texas the municipality doesn’t get the entire amount. The monitoring company got a large chunk of it.

      • I remember the fuss when those cameras first appeared in TX, and somebody took them to court, the ruling was they were unenforceable, I sorta wondered why the state elected to leave them up anyway, I guess they have revisited that decision, huh? I’m still in the mode of ignoring any such ticket until a cop comes to my door, then saying of course I ignored it, that was not me!

        • Can you cite the court case on that? The biggest offender around my neck of the woods is Southlake and they DO enforce it.

      • I got one a couple years ago for running a red light in my Black Audi in Orlando. Only problem was I do not live in Orlando, have not been in Orlando in over 10 years and do not own a Black Audi. After a bit of back and forth they decided the O in my Silver Tacoma’s plate and the Q in the real offenders plate were to blame. I have since changed tags so sorry black Audi driver whoever you are I can’t delay your ticket for you anymore..

    • Bad idea from a liability perspective. In most states, the owner of a vehicle is liable for an accident involving that car even if caused by a non-owner driver. This would allow the injured party to sue both the owner and the driver. If they happen to be husband and wife, the resulting joint liability might allow the plaintiff to gain access to jointly owned assets, such as the marital home, that otherwise would have been off-limits if the suit was against only one of the two owners.

      • Follow the money. The insurance is with the car, thus it does not matter who is driving, we want to get that MONEY! Has nothing to do with red-light cameras.

  6. Check the box officer Tom? Sorry-that doesn’t work in Cook Co.,Ill. You’re just screwed. Honestly who could possibly be surprised with this shite? Back door(or back plate) gun registration…

  7. “Oh, and does anyone know where we can get one of these?”

    That may qualify as tampering with a license plate in your area.

    I have heard clear glossy polyurethane spray paint has a similar effect…

  8. I already have anti-photo covers on my car. I maybe a bit paranoid. So what? Just because I have ” nothing to hide” now doesn’t mean that the game won’t be changed in the future.

  9. Black flex seal asphalt spray paint on a telescopic pole or drone, works wonders on these issues. After all, you are just making sure the camera lens is water tight!

    Do your civic duty and help out where ever you can!

      • The problem is you would have to know it was there…..any sort of spray paint would work, including a clear coat that would fuzz up the image enough that the computer couldn’t read the digits. I have seen local cop cars with those cameras, so it is clear Cobb County is on board with violating privacy.

    • Damn, what a good idea! Drones are getting more and more sophisticated every day, it won’t be long before a single charge could cost the gubt a half-million in destroyed cameras, and the game won’t be so fun, any more!

  10. The courts have held that there is no reasonable expectation of privacy in your license plate, and so such cameras are lawful. HOWEVER, linking the photo of the plate to a government maintained database containing additional (private) information and publishing that to the world at large is an entirely different matter, and may be grounds for an invasion of privacy claim against the company who runs the cameras.

  11. Every single firearm that is purchased legally… recorded in a government database. Anyone who believes otherwise has been drinking the funny tasting Kool-Aid.

    • Well, yeah, but hundreds of thousands of boating accidents have rendered those records more bad than good, since keeping those records is illegal, and boating accidents are a way of life.

  12. I’m told that here in Richmond we’ve had warrants obtained by narcs following customers home from grow stores!

    I don’t know the disposition of these prosecutions, however. Imagine a judge signing off on such a warrant – it’s fascism on its face.

  13. The “slow down, you are posting too fast” bull is getting on my NERVES!

    I’m on an iPHONE, for crying out loud!

    What am I supposed to do, saw half my thumb off? ?

  14. Based on the above comments, this post has done a lot of good for a whole bunch of previously uneducated and uninformed folks who couldn’t be bothered with keeping themselves informed about what goes on in the community and federal policing world in the U.S.

    1. This ain’t new. Little ‘ole Wichita Falls, and 8 other Texas cities implemented automated license plate reading / checking database systems as long ago as 2008……and 9 of them are cross-linked at the data-base level. these include cameras on police cars as well as fixed cameras. Quite a few more Texas cities (I can’t find a reputable source of numbers) have implemented full-time monitoring at all major street intersections. In WF you can be tracked all the way across town, regardless of how many turns you make, unless you find a route without traffic lights (that’s were the city put all our fixed cameras). The data from the system is digitally recorded and maintained (and our police dept. will not say for how long) and it can be programmed to automatically extract license plate numbers for the tracking system.

    2. Most of you live outside the great southwest. If you didn’t you would already be used to driving through Homeland Security checkpoints (some more than 100 miles from the Mexican border) which automatically photograph the front AND rear plates AND both sides of the vehicle AS WELL AS the driver and front seat occupant. This has been going on since at least 2003. The tracking computer is almost real time, in that it can set off an alarm at the border agent’s position if your vehicle has been targeted for some reason.

    So for those of you in the rest of Amerika, welcome to the beginnings of the Stasi – State.

  15. Wait, SHODAN? they named a computer surveillance system after a murderous computer AI that was convinced of its own superiority?

    that’s like naming a mercury probe mission ‘ICARUS’ and being surprised when it burns up.


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