Monday, October 06, 2014

Creeping surveillance

Techliberty has an update on police use of Automatic number plate recognition (ANPR) technology. The key points:

  • They have increased the number of ANPR vehicles, from 3 to 17. Its still low, but the fact that its creeping up is disturbing.
  • They are targeting vehicles based on their expected driver, and their targeting database is already so large that 3-4 percent of vehicles passing an ANPR car are flagged.
  • The cameras misread plates, meaning that there will be false positives 9and people stopped for no reason)
  • They are retaining data for 48 hours, and openly talk about querying it afterwards to see if a particular vehicle has passed by.

The good news is that the cameras aren't networked, and there is no national database. Yet. The problem is that they're doing all of this in secret, without seeking consent from the public. And that's a very bad signal as to their motives and future plans.