Tiburon Wants To Photograph Every Car Entering And Leaving... But Don't Worry About Your Privacy

from the well,-phew... dept

Tiburon is a nice little wealthy coastal town a little ways north from where I happen to live. It's a cozy place to go for a nice meal out or something -- usually somewhere I'll take visiting friends or relatives. It's certainly not a place where you'd expect there to be a big crime problem, and, indeed, the facts seem to bear that out. But, apparently, that's not stopping the local gov't from deciding to set up cameras to photograph and record every car entering and leaving the town. It will also record and use the license plate info. If that sounds like a bit of an invasion of privacy, well, the town's Manager, Peggy Curran, insists you're just paranoid:
"As long as you don't arrive in a stolen vehicle or go on a crime spree while you're here, your anonymity will be preserved. We don't care who you are and we don't know who you are."
Actually, if you didn't care, you wouldn't be recording the info, now would you?

This is really just a variation on the "if you haven't done anything wrong, then you have nothing to worry about" sort of claim. It's a fallacy that privacy is only about if you're doing something wrong. So, for folks up in Tiburon, who wants to follow Peggy Curran with a camera when she's walking around? As long as she doesn't do anything illegal, her anonymity will be preserved. No one cares who she is. They would just be making sure she doesn't go on a crime spree or steal a car. By her own logic, that's perfectly reasonable, right?


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    Marcel de Jong (profile), Jul 22nd, 2009 @ 6:31am

    would make a case for stalkers everywhere

    "Your honour, I wasn't stalking $person_X, I was merely making sure that [s]he didn't go on a crime spree or steal a car. I don't really care about the person, hir privacy is garanteed."

    It's absurd "We'll record everything, but don't worry, if you got nothing to hide, there won't be any trouble."
    Besides what will happen if there is a coupe on the government, and we end up in a totalitarian state for real (which I think most of 'The West' already is) / dictatorship. Suddenly, everybody has something to hide.

     

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    AC's long lost brother, Jul 22nd, 2009 @ 7:18am

    I wonder....

    How the local businesses will like people not coming to be photographed...

     

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    Steve R. (profile), Jul 22nd, 2009 @ 7:18am

    Misplaced Privacy

    If you are in public, you forgo certain rights. While I agree that we still need to be concerned with the implications of this type of recording of information, what concerns me is that we get all hot-under-the-collar concerning this issue, but we seem oblivious to private companies buying/selling our personal information to anyone. While recoding a persons public activities may be an irritant, the wholesale distribution of one's private data by companies is a significant breach of security.

     

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    Designerfx (profile), Jul 22nd, 2009 @ 7:28am

    Re: Misplaced Privacy

    This is why what Mike said is absolutely correct.

    Someone should go in public, and record the hell out of this individual. Dedicate a group of 5-10 people to record his/her every movement and watch how much she enjoys it.

    People always rationalize it because they externalize it like "it's not me, it's for the bad folks".

     

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    Rajio, Jul 22nd, 2009 @ 7:29am

    what?

    How is it an invasion of privacy? You're out in public, not in private. Theres no privacy there to be invaded. Does not compute.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 22nd, 2009 @ 7:30am

    Re: would make a case for stalkers everywhere

    If you can offer insight to Sensation White, well, maybe we have common ground to speak. Otherwise, Marcel, you are merely an insurance company to me.

    Aegon? They're a bunch of ass munches, and actually fits you're past posts.

     

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    Ima Fish (profile), Jul 22nd, 2009 @ 7:33am

    I'm confused about why this is posted. There is no right to privacy when you're in public and it's perfectly legal to take pictures of you and your car when you are in public. I see this town's action as being perfectly legal and it in no way violates anyone's right to public privacy.

    I'll admit it's a little paranoid. I'm not sure why white communities with so little crime are so paranoid about crime.

    But if Google can drive around taking everyone's public picture, I don't see how this is any worse.

     

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    C.T., Jul 22nd, 2009 @ 7:34am

    Privacy concerns and the "I've got nothing to hide" fallacy

    Mike -

    It seems that you're increasingly focusing your attention to matters involving invasions of privacy. I applaud these efforts, as it is an area of growing importance and one of great interest to me. If you're looking for some great reading material on privacy issues, you should really check out Daniel Solove's work. He is the Larry Lessig of the privacy law realm.

    One of his best papers exposes the specious logic underlying the claim that "if you've got nothing to hide, you have nothing to worry about."

    It's available here: http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=998565

    Abstract

    In this short essay, written for a symposium in the San Diego Law Review, Professor Daniel Solove examines the nothing to hide argument. When asked about government surveillance and data mining, many people respond by declaring: "I've got nothing to hide." According to the nothing to hide argument, there is no threat to privacy unless the government uncovers unlawful activity, in which case a person has no legitimate justification to claim that it remain private. The nothing to hide argument and its variants are quite prevalent, and thus are worth addressing. In this essay, Solove critiques the nothing to hide argument and exposes its faulty underpinnings.

     

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    Ima Fish (profile), Jul 22nd, 2009 @ 7:38am

    Re: Re: Misplaced Privacy

    "This is why what Mike said is absolutely correct."

    So what exactly is Mike's argument? Is he arguing that this town's actions are violating people's privacy rights? He's certainly not correct about that. You have limited privacy rights when you're in public and it's perfectly legal to take pictures of you and your car when you're in public.

    But yet he apparently wants to retaliate against the town's Manager by photographing her in public. Which again is perfectly legal and in no way violates her privacy rights. Man, I'm just so damn confused! Why was this even posted?

     

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    Thomas, Jul 22nd, 2009 @ 7:47am

    Reuse by?

    So the town takes pictures of every car coming in. that means the data will be stored somewhere for some period of time. What is to prevent unauthorized people from getting access to the data? Suppose your ex lives in that town and hates you and you visit the other side of town and then later your ex finds out about it and waits for you and kills you. Can your survivors sue the town for assisting in a capital crime?

     

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    MattP, Jul 22nd, 2009 @ 7:48am

    Re:

    While it's certainly legal to do so there will be backlash nonetheless. If I had a choice of going to this town or one of the other dime a dozen towns offering the same. Just because you can doesn't mean you should.

     

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    jjmsan (profile), Jul 22nd, 2009 @ 7:49am

    I am curious. Exactly what rights am I forgoing by being in public? Police still cannot stop and search me randomly. By the same logic shouldn't the village also be able to finger print anyone coming into the village? After all if you are not a criminal or planning on comitting a crime you should have no objection.

     

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    C.T., Jul 22nd, 2009 @ 7:49am

    Re: Re: Re: Misplaced Privacy

    Ima -

    I can't speak for Mike, but it seems like the problem he is raising has more to do with the town manager's justification for the program (ie - if you're not breaking the law, you have nothing to worry about) than the program itself.

    That said... I think we should be suspect of programs such as this one. The program is certainly legal under our current privacy law regime. That doesn't necessarily mean it's something we shouldn't be concerned about. The norm that we have no privacy interests in things that occur in public is relatively antiquated and rings hollow in the Internet age in which all of this information can be forever cataloged and easily accessed. Sure, if I walk across a street, I have no right to keep that information concealed. Does that mean that someone should be able to follow me everywhere I go and publish that information on the Internet? I don't have the answer to that question, but it is certainly one that deserve some serious consideration.

     

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    Kevin Stapp (profile), Jul 22nd, 2009 @ 7:49am

    I agree the town is being paranoid but at the same time you have no expectation of privacy when you are in public areas. Paranoid and weird, but it isn't a privacy violation.

     

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    Justin, Jul 22nd, 2009 @ 7:50am

    This is a bad precedent

    This is a bad precedent to start. today it is cameras on cars moving around town. Tomorrow the cameras start watching people, next week they start listening to conversations. next month they go Demolition Man on everyone and start Fining people because they swear or say something against public interest. This is something that needs to be stopped at the beginning or in a couple years we are going to be so pissed off at everything and look back and wonder what the hell just happened.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 22nd, 2009 @ 7:52am

    One day Mike will understand that privacy stops when you enter public areas. Until then, he will continue to get all up in arms about baseless problems.

    I would suggest a new tinfoil hat, and stay home.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 22nd, 2009 @ 7:55am

    Teaching Peggy Curran a lesson

    I fully support the idea of setting up 24x7 monitoring of her every move, and posting the video/audio online for all to see. She should be followed in every public place, and even in any quasi-public ones (e.g. restaurants). Notes should be taken on what she buys, what she eats, who she speaks with, and every other possible detail of her life.

    Of course, if she's doing nothing wrong, she won't object.

     

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    Verve (profile), Jul 22nd, 2009 @ 7:58am

    Cameras film every vehicle that drives through a toll booth on a highway... what's the difference?

    (playing devil's advocate)

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 22nd, 2009 @ 7:58am

    I like LA better, My Cousin likes the Hearst Hotel, my uncle likes Mojave. My Brother likes Buena Vista. My sister likes "Paul Pink's Hotdog Stand" I like NYC.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 22nd, 2009 @ 8:00am

    I'm not sure if this has been mentioned, or if you already know, but in the UK, or at least in London, we have a congestion charging scheme that photographs every single car entering the zone and looks up the license plate to determine if the vehicle has paid the appropriate charge.

    If not, it automatically issues a fixed penalty fine which increases over time should it not be paid sufficiently quickly.

     

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    stat_insig (profile), Jul 22nd, 2009 @ 8:02am

    Just to satisfy you......

    They should put all the pictures on Google streetview (with time change option). As happened before that should help in solving many crimes.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 22nd, 2009 @ 8:05am

    If you are out in public on public property anyone can take your picture. No privacy issues to be had here. Is it creepy? Hell yea. But the benefits to law enforcement are pretty enticing.

    However the real issue here is protecting the data! Stalkers that get access to these pictures would be horrendous. jealous Ex girlfriends, people keeping track of your movements so they can break into your house, etc.

    Perhaps a computer program that would read the license plates and input them into a database. Since you can guess fairly well where the plate will be in the pictures and the letters & numbers are fairly uniform it should be mostly accurate. Have a paper trail for each and every search for a license plate from the database (Who authorized it, who did it, why was it done, when, ect).

    Baring computer programs perhaps have a police department from a remote location do the data input, this is to greatly reduce the chance that these people would have motives for keeping track of common people in the area they are viewing.

    Mark each picture with make, model, color, license number. Once again extensive paper trail that the public can access as to what the police search for. Delay search records by a reasonable amount of time (maybe 3 months?) to protect investigations.

    A lot of pipe dreams I know. The cold reality is these pictures will be used in ways that are not legal most of the time.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 22nd, 2009 @ 8:07am

    Re:

    Sounds like a problem you have.

    Sorry we can't help you. Why not petition your local English legal represenative... What the devil are they called? Lords, Dukes or Jesters? In any case, it's a problem you have and we don't own.

    Sorry.

     

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    chris (profile), Jul 22nd, 2009 @ 8:09am

    reminds me of "snow crash"

    http://books.google.com/books?id=RMd3GpIFxcUC&pg=RA1-PA124&lpg=RA1-PA124

    in this futuristic setting, the CIA has become a for-profit entity called the Central Intelligence Company and hires freelance surveillance agents called "stringers" observe and report activity that might be of interest. the idea hasn't panned out so well thanks to overzealous stringers who collect too much data:

    "The CIC brass can't stand these guys because they upload staggering quantities of useless information to the database, on the off chance that some of it will eventually be useful. It's like writing down the license number of every car you see on your way to work each morning, just in case one of them will be involved in a hit-and-run accident. Even the CIC database can only hold so much garbage."

    collecting data is easy, interpreting it is not. in the intelligence community this is known as collection and analysis, and in IT it's called logging and parsing. sure you can automate the search and format process (like IT groups do with server and network logs), but real analysis is still done mostly by humans, making it an expensive process.

    this is why data mining and warehousing work for corporations, because they can profit from insights gained from analysis. just what kind of return is tiburon expecting to receive from collecting this data?

     

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    Marcel de Jong (profile), Jul 22nd, 2009 @ 8:09am

    Re: Re: would make a case for stalkers everywhere

    nice try :P But I do not work for Aegon.

     

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    AC's long lost brother, Jul 22nd, 2009 @ 8:09am

    Leaving privacy out of the arguement...

    could tracking every car coming in and out somehow violating one's right to free association? Just a thought...

     

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    Bri (profile), Jul 22nd, 2009 @ 8:14am

    The irony of all this extra surveillance is that it seems to be catching criminal cops instead of the supposed mass of criminal citizens out there waiting to terrorize others.

    I look forward to a day where people stop acting like idiots.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 22nd, 2009 @ 8:14am

    Re: Re: Re: would make a case for stalkers everywhere

    Well it says you're at a large insurance company in the Netherlands. I guess it's a secondary company.

    The Netherlands office for AIG, perhaps?

     

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    Marcel de Jong (profile), Jul 22nd, 2009 @ 8:21am

    Re:

    Then why would Google blur licence plates? Why would tv-shows blur licence plates?

    Besides that, it gets stored in a central database, that should then also be publically available...

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 22nd, 2009 @ 8:22am

    Re:

    Really? That's cool. So you mean when I ask for a girl's phone number on the street, she's obligated to provide it?

    Awesome. Thanks for that gem of knowledge.

     

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    Marcel de Jong (profile), Jul 22nd, 2009 @ 8:24am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: would make a case for stalkers everywhere

    Nope. :P If you look hard enough you can find it. (quite easy even, took me two clicks, but I knew where to look of course)

    btw, nice find about me going to Sensation White, which was awesome, if you can, and like dance/trance music, I'd say go to a Sensation party. :)
    Only downside for me was that I picked up the flu there. (luckily not the mexican version of it)

    Meh, as Steve Rambam said at a HOPE conference: "Privacy is dead, get over it."

     

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    tim, Jul 22nd, 2009 @ 8:24am

    Re:

    Because this isn't being seen and, perhaps, being photographed by an acquaintance or random individual on the street. This is about being photographed repeatedly and logged by government, a government made up of people, people who very frequently don't have the morality or standards we wish they had.

    Once all that data is recorded, what's to stop anyone with access to it, or to the individual(s) in control of it, from using it for nefarious purposes. Spying on friends, family, opponents. Abusing it to control or blackmail them. Think about all the things that one COULD capture on film while taking those photos and how that COULD be used.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 22nd, 2009 @ 8:25am

    Taking pictures of cars as they enter and leave town = legal

    Following an individual around taking pictures and posting them with the intent of "teaching her a lesson" = harrasment = illegal

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 22nd, 2009 @ 8:31am

    Theres a lot of talk about the possiblility of these photographs becoming public. Exactly what information is being exposed if this happens. There exists a blue Ford with the license plate number IMADORK. Unless they are taking these pictures and cross-referencing every one with the DMV database and then storing that information I don't see what the problem is.

     

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    Enrico Suarve, Jul 22nd, 2009 @ 8:35am

    If you have nothing to hide, you're probably wrong

    To all those posting the usual "oh you're in public you have no rights to privacy" bollocks, please take a second to stop, rewind your sentence then think

    This is what we used to say in the UK years ago, we now have more cameras per head than any other nation, add to that we are one of the most densly populated nations and you get the picture. Ask yourself at what point too many cameras becomes invasive (and trust me at a certain point it does), then ask yourselves if just before you reach that point you'll be able to stop the continued rollout once it has gathered momentum... (try not to think of the present NSA scope creep when you do this as it gets a bit Orwellian if you do)

    Ask yourselves this now because trust me - tomorrow is too late

    To the "Nothing to hide, nothing to fear crowd". You are thinking in present terms where you can only be arrested for things which are frowned on at the moment of their inception, thats so 20th century darlings

    In the UK we now have cameras with numberplate recognition which our "Nothing to hide, nothing to fear" clones helped erect, they are fantastic, storing as they do travel details in such a small readily referenced form, absolutly perfect for retrospective persecution

    Get a load of this guy - one day he excercises his democratic right to peacefull political protest, months later he's pulled over for no other reason than his attendance at the protest now shows him as a "person of interest"

    http://www.theargus.co.uk/news/4393086.Brighton_pensioner_slams__police_state__after_te rror_police_tag_car/

    If you give them more power they absolutly WILL use it, every time, no exceptions at all; about the only guarantee you have is that some of the ways this extra information will be used will be ways you never thought of or considered

     

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    lavi d (profile), Jul 22nd, 2009 @ 8:36am

    Scenario

    Cop 1: "I can't find that bitch wife of mine"

    Cop 2: "Well, let's just look and see if she's in Tiburon"

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 22nd, 2009 @ 8:39am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: would make a case for stalkers everywhere

    Well, maybe it's just me, but white was always better than Black. If we can get the ID&T streams back stateside, perhaps we'd be better off.

    Steve always lies. Steve says things that he wishes were true, but Steve doesn't have the full scoop. He just parrots what his holders want him to say.

     

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    Simple Simon, Jul 22nd, 2009 @ 8:40am

    The solution is obvious!

    Copyright your picture and your car and your license plate!

    They want your picture, they can PAY you for the licensing rights!

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 22nd, 2009 @ 8:40am

    Alarmists

    I see vehicles everyday...and their plates. I could write it down if I liked. How is this any different than signing a guest book, without the hassle of actually doing it? All of this info is available to the public if you know where to look, I don't see the big deal. Settle down, its not like we are on the verge of some big conspiracy and we need to band together to fight Big Brother...they are just recording license plates as a form of guest book...who cares?

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 22nd, 2009 @ 8:40am

    I live in a gated community where the do the same thing

    I live in Coto de Caza, a similar type town in Orange County. They have been doing this for a while (since the 90s) for the exact same reason this town is doing it. The videotape every car, even residents, coming through the gates. Every guest has to get a pass with their license info that is photographed and stored along with some basic demographic info for the guest. And also, there is no reason for this as there is never any crime here. I know it's been going on here for a while because when I was a kid we had to search through a days worth of gate logs with a security guard to show them that the gate came down on our window unexpectedly and cracked it so they had to pay for it.

     

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    Phoenix, Jul 22nd, 2009 @ 8:44am

    Oh Brother...

    The reason I follow this blog semi-regularly is because I resonate with some of the regular topics. I find the recent dialog on new business models fascinating.

    On the other hand, on slow news days some of the posts are just silly, and IMHO this is one of them.

    Photographing cars as they enter and exit a city is in no way similar to harassing an individual with a camera. The analogy weakens the main point.

    Going to fill up your car with gas today? Uh oh... cameras! Going to get cash out of an ATM? Go shopping? Smile, you're on candid camera!

    The latest tollways don't even use cash or toll tags any more. They take a picture of your license plate and mail you the bill at the end of each month. You get a better deal if you sign up for a monthly plan. The operators of these tollways know where and when you've been going - hope your wives and bosses don't find out!

    Have you noticed that even the iPhone has a bunch of applications that are simply feeds of live streaming cameras in public places? In the not too distant future, I imagine it will be possible to correlate faces in these feeds to facebook pictures, flickr, etc.. The technology and applications exists... all it takes is storage and processing power.

    Cameras photographing cars as they enter and exit Hyundai California is not going to end society as we know it. It isn't even a big deal in the context of how cameras are being used to violate our rights to privacy.

     

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    Enrico Suarve, Jul 22nd, 2009 @ 8:44am

    Re: reminds me of "snow crash"

    Excellent book - I've never met anyone else who's even heard of it though ;0)

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 22nd, 2009 @ 8:47am

    Is this the same Tiburon from the EA sports games, by chance?

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 22nd, 2009 @ 8:48am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: would make a case for stalkers everywhere

    If you work for Rabobank, I will be very disappointed.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 22nd, 2009 @ 8:50am

    10 years from now, maybe sooner - we'll be reading about some city employee who was tracking his/her EX and then stalking them - like that nutty NASA chick, lol

     

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    OV, Jul 22nd, 2009 @ 8:53am

    Open version

    I'm thinking of setting up a webcam in Tiburon too. I'm going to scan all plates, put the info in a database and make it publicly available so everyone on the web can see exactly when each person leaves/enters the town.

    In an attempt to just keep info on the Tiburon residents, I'll only keep info on cars that leave/return during the same day (or something similar).

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 22nd, 2009 @ 8:55am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: would make a case for stalkers everywhere

    Erik Dekker was an inspiration, much moreso than Armstrong.

    Even though Armstrong and his piles of money bought a business my own mother wanted to buy.

    I have very few good words for Armstrong, and Rabo continues to be an interesting desire.

     

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    Nick, Jul 22nd, 2009 @ 9:06am

    UK London Congestion Charge camera's

    I second the posts about the UKs camera's and Congestion charges camera's but I am not sure whether it can be used to track movements... though I am sure it can.

    Also in response to jjmsans' post, you are lucky you are in the US. In the UK the police CAN stop and search you with no reason more compelling than they thought you might be up to something you should not be. Most people seem not to care much however...

     

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    RD, Jul 22nd, 2009 @ 9:09am

    Already done

    "The latest tollways don't even use cash or toll tags any more. They take a picture of your license plate and mail you the bill at the end of each month. You get a better deal if you sign up for a monthly plan. The operators of these tollways know where and when you've been going - hope your wives and bosses don't find out!"

    This already happened in the NY area last year. A man was cheating on his wife, lying about where he was. He used EZ Pass (a local toll pass) out here and his wife got a PI to get the info on which tollbooths his EZ Pass passed through on such-and-such a date. Proved he wasnt where he said he was, proved he was in the area of the mistress. Divorce! Did he deserve it, morally? Probably. But was it ethical for a TOLL COLLECTOR to track his movements and provide that to a 3rd party? I would argue no, or at least, it gives pause about these "store all data and trust it not to be misused" ideas.

    If you dont think this sort of info will be misused, or used against you in other ways, you are deluding yourself.

     

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    @ Thomas, Jul 22nd, 2009 @ 9:18am

    Re: Reuse by?

    Are you kidding? If someone wants to kill you, they'll find you and kill you. They don't need to steal a government database to find out where you were at some time in the past.

     

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  51.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 22nd, 2009 @ 9:20am

    Re: Re:

    Really, asking a girl for her phone number is the same as taking someone's picture? If you're in public and you take a picture of someone else in public how is that the same as asking for (and expecting to receive) their private data?

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 22nd, 2009 @ 9:23am

    So, for folks up in Tiburon, who wants to follow Peggy Curran with a camera when she's walking around?(taken from the article)

    Technically, this is incorrect. Cameras aren't actually following your car around taking pictures. The cameras are at fixed points on corners or the sides of the roads, so it would be more correct to say that you could "stand on the side of the road and take pictures of her as she drives by (perhaps with several other people, and then they collaborate on her movements later)".

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 22nd, 2009 @ 9:23am

    Re: Teaching Peggy Curran a lesson

    Except for one basic issue: She isn't filming every car coming into the community and SHARING IT PUBLICALLY!

    Grow up, your answer sounds like a spoiled child.

     

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    Luci, Jul 22nd, 2009 @ 9:29am

    Re:

    Incorrect. There are still expectations of privacy. The collection of personally identifiable information (license plates?) can still be a huge issue. Even if I'm in public, you don't have the right to record my conversations. I can still deny you the right to take my photo if I have a valid reason for it.

    Expectations are not set by law, but by precedent and past experience.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 22nd, 2009 @ 9:30am

    Re: Teaching Peggy Curran a lesson

    Who the hell's Peggy Curran?

     

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    Yohann, Jul 22nd, 2009 @ 9:33am

    Hyped up a bit too much

    I don't really see the problem with this. If you don't like it, don't live or go there. I live in Arizona where cameras are all over the freeways. When I drive on them, I see morons speeding way over the speed limit, then when they get to the cameras, they slam on the brakes and the moron behind them almost rear ends them. And this is seen as the cameras causing the problem???

    The problem isn't the cameras. The town of Tiburon is trying to cut down on crime or at least trying to keep crime from happening. I would like to know how many of the complainers and whiners actually sent them alternate ideas that could work just as well, if not better, to stave off crime. All we hear of are people b*tching about what some city does, which they have a right to do. But what did they do to help the problem? Or are they just standing on the sidelines wanting their voices of opposition to be heard without finding a better workaround?

    Instead of whining, find a better alternative and submit it to them. It would a) need to cost less, b) be more effective, c) be less intrusive, d) require full transparency, e) be easier to implement, and more importantly f) decrease crime or prevent it from increasing.

    There you go. Now think of something that will do all that, write it up, and submit it to the city of Tiburon and let them work it out. Posting a comment in a blog on the internet will not be heard as much as a professional looking alternative.

     

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    Tom, Jul 22nd, 2009 @ 9:45am

    What is the difference?

    Most department stores have video of every person who goes in and goes out. In fact, most gas stations do the same. A lot of stores even have video surveillance of their changing rooms. Are you stalking their CEOs?

    Don't like the idea? Don't go to Tiburon.

    To me, it is more about transparency and warning everyone. Could someone misappropriate the information? Yes. So could that gas station attendant or waitress at a restaurant.

    I'm much more interested in you showing me the abuse of privacy, not the potential for abuse.

     

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    martymar, Jul 22nd, 2009 @ 9:48am

    Re: what?

    so what. it may not be an invasion of privacy, but it is f'ed up.

    for you police state motherlovers, karma's gonna a bitch.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 22nd, 2009 @ 10:02am

    Sorry but how is this an invasion of privacy? How can you have any expectation of privacy at all driving down a public road? It's dumb, but it's not even close to an invasion of privacy.

     

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    R. Miles (profile), Jul 22nd, 2009 @ 10:09am

    TD, contradictions aren't good.

    After reading this, I was quickly reminded of the stance TD took regarding folks trying to sue Google over street view photos (which had no "personal" info in it).

    Now, it's 180 degree turn around? Explain this to us, please.

    I'm curious to know how a license plate number storing is considered a privacy violation when anyone with pen and paper can stand on the street and do the same thing.

     

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    Free Capitalist, Jul 22nd, 2009 @ 10:15am

    Re: If you have nothing to hide, you're probably wrong

    If you give them more power they absolutly WILL use it, every time, no exceptions at all; about the only guarantee you have is that some of the ways this extra information will be used will be ways you never thought of or considered


    That's about the size of it, isn't it. Tiburon does not need general surveilance to fight crime. Why set the precedent?

    Ex-hippies really, really suck IMO.

     

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  62.  
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    Kevin Stapp (profile), Jul 22nd, 2009 @ 10:20am

    Re: Re:

    I can write down your license plate number whether you like it or not. This information by law must be publicly displayed. The LP is there for express purpose of enabling the public to identify the registered owner of a vehicle. It is public information. With a little money and effort I can get the first and last name, address, registration and expiration date, make and model of vehicle, VIN number, title number, lien holder name.

     

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    Jake, Jul 22nd, 2009 @ 10:40am

    Re: UK London Congestion Charge cameras

    That's slightly different. Automatic Numberplate Recognition cameras are set up to compare the license plate of your car to a list of vehicles that have been reported stolen, or flagged as having no insurance or not paying your Congestion Charge. Tracking the movements of every individual vehicle in the country is theoretically possible, but requires not only a camera at every intersection in the country but a staggering amount of processor power, gigaflop range at least. There are probably easier ways of silencing dissent.

     

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    johnny, Jul 22nd, 2009 @ 10:57am

    warning someone not commit a crime is a crime

     

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    Dark Helmet (profile), Jul 22nd, 2009 @ 11:00am

    Re: TD, contradictions aren't good.

    "After reading this, I was quickly reminded of the stance TD took regarding folks trying to sue Google over street view photos (which had no "personal" info in it).

    Now, it's 180 degree turn around? Explain this to us, please."

    Well, can't speak for Mike, who does not CwDH, but to me heir different for one very important reason.

    Google has their PEOPLE pointing cameras at PUBLIC PLACES. This township has cameras in their PUBLIC PLACES pointed at PEOPLE. In the Google situation, that random unidentifiable people get in the way is incidental, particularly since in many(all?) cases Google will blur faces our upon request. In the township case, they are specifically aiming at recording information to identify people. To me, that's hugely different.

    "I'm curious to know how a license plate number storing is considered a privacy violation when anyone with pen and paper can stand on the street and do the same thing."

    Bullshit. You'd have a hard time doing this on some suburban road in front of a Slow Zone sign, never mind on US101. You can't write fast enough to accomplish what the cameras are accomplishing, assuming there is more than 1 car going in either direction per, say 20 seconds.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 22nd, 2009 @ 11:05am

    Re: Re: Teaching Peggy Curran a lesson

    First, if you think for a moment that this information won't be public, then you clearly have not been paying attention to the ongoing parade of dataloss incidents that we've been treated to for the past many years. Of COURSE everything that's captured by such a system will leak: it has value, therefore it will be sought and someone will cash in by selling it. (Or perhaps more expediently, they'll just help themselves to it -- given the appalling incompetence of IT security among all governments worldwide that's probably a simpler approach.)

    Second, even if we naively stipulated for the purpose of argument that it wouldn't become public (which stretches credulity to breaking point, I know, but bear with me, fellow readers, while I educate those lesser creatures among us), then of course we must ask who will have access to it in private. And the obvious answer to that of course is "anyone with sufficient clout in any law enforcement agency", which is a very large group of people and one that is well-known to contain people with agendas -- political, social, religious, economic, and personal. And as we have seen, repeatedly, many of them are not above using putatively-"private" information to pursue those agendas.

    There is no such thing as "private" information once it's in the hands of any government.

     

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    R. Miles (profile), Jul 22nd, 2009 @ 11:08am

    Re: Re: TD, contradictions aren't good.

    In the township case, they are specifically aiming at recording information to identify people.
    Unless this system is tied to a national database to derive this information, it's impossible to know who is driving a car by a simple photograph of a license plate.

    It's what happens after the photo is taken which can be a debated topic, but definitely not this one. I've seen no indication the photos will be used to track down drivers.

    Bullshit. You'd have a hard time doing this on some suburban road in front of a Slow Zone sign, never mind on US101.
    Fine. A person with a damn camera. Better?

    The fact still remains: ANYONE can do the same thing.

    With the many cars I see on my travels to/from work, I've yet to identify a single driver based on the license plate.
    I may know what county they originate, but nothing more.

    I just don't see a privacy issue here.

     

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    Dark Helmet (profile), Jul 22nd, 2009 @ 11:28am

    Re: Re: Re: TD, contradictions aren't good.

    That's a fair point. Is there any indication ANYWHERE what ties this local system will have to the DMV. FYI, most of the time the database need not be nat'l, state records will usually suffice, unless the plate is out of state.

    But again, if they're not going to tie this in with such a database, what would be the point of photographing incoming/outgoing CARS?

     

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    Bob V, Jul 22nd, 2009 @ 11:32am

    FOI request

    I'm not familiar with what information is available from the government but if the town keeps records of all movement of vehicles in and out then would that data be available to anyone requesting it.

    If the town is allowed to keep the record because it is not a privacy violation then the same argument that releasing the data is a privacy violation would be moot.

     

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    Dallas IT Guy, Jul 22nd, 2009 @ 11:39am

    The Corollary

    "If you haven't done anything wrong, you have nothing to hide."

    The corollary:

    "If you don't have probable cause to believe I've done something wrong, you don't need to watch me."

     

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    Cheese McBeese, Jul 22nd, 2009 @ 11:45am

    Paranoid Nut Cases

    Wow, I can't believe all the paranoia. Life is a lot richer when you don't spend it inventing trivial stuff to worry about.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 22nd, 2009 @ 11:51am

    To all the people that have no problem with this, just remember this day when some private citizen subpoenas this information from the government to use it in a case against you (this has happened already).

    Remember this day when the govn't changes a law and uses this data to retroactively find offenders and punish them, or put them on a "watch list".

    Remember this day when insurance companies, or your employer get access to this data (either through FOIA or lawsuit) and use it to profile your behavior (already being done too much in other ways).

    You had ample opportunity to stop this, yet you didn't have anything to hide. Unfortunately you didn't have anything to hide at that one particular moment in time.

    I really wish that we hadn't numbed the geny and younger crowd to this type of thing as they were growing up. Now we are screwed.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 22nd, 2009 @ 11:59am

    Re: Re:

    I have a fun way to deal with annoying people on the bus who talk really loud on their cell phones about personal issues. I record them with my phone's camera. This is also a great way to stop women from breast-feeding in public without a blanket.

     

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    R. Miles (profile), Jul 22nd, 2009 @ 12:13pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: TD, contradictions aren't good.

    But again, if they're not going to tie this in with such a database, what would be the point of photographing incoming/outgoing CARS?
    My guess: once a crime is committed, then such photos can be turned over during an investigation.

     

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    AJ, Jul 22nd, 2009 @ 12:15pm

    Tricks...

    Kids are already switching the license plates, or stealing them from people they don't like. They then proceed to run every red light camera in town. Wait till police, Judges, and politicians start getting hit by these guys, should be a good show. I can think of quite a few other ways to cause serious havoc with a camera. How about using it as a defense. "I couln't have been robbing that bank, and been driving my car over here, all at the exact same time". It's not fullproof, but it could be reasonable doubt.

     

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    Mike Masnick (profile), Jul 22nd, 2009 @ 12:20pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Misplaced Privacy

    Two points:

    1. Yes, CT is right that my bigger concern is the lame justification of the manager. I'm not saying it's against the law. I'm just questioning the rationale.

    2. While lots of people are saying that "well, you're in public, you have no privacy," this is a bit different. I would absolutely 100% agree if it were just someone privately taking their own photos. The problem is that the gov't had a big database where they can link up those photos/license plate numbers to personal information. At that point, it's no longer about "well you were out in public" it's about the gov't combining public info with private info... and that's potentially a problem.

     

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    Dark Helmet (profile), Jul 22nd, 2009 @ 12:23pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: TD, contradictions aren't good.

    "My guess: once a crime is committed, then such photos can be turned over during an investigation."

    ....ok, but wouldn't they have to turn over ALL the videos to be picked through?

    For instance, APB/BOLO goes out on license plate IL55443, in the area sometime between 3p and 7p on some given date. So aren't ALL the cars photographed between those times run through the databases? Or just the ones that correlate on known colour? How do you differentiate on make/model?

    I don't think there's anyway around it, at some point someone who has nothing to do with what they're looking for is going to be ran against the database. Allowing that is opening a door I don't want opened.

     

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    Mike Masnick (profile), Jul 22nd, 2009 @ 12:26pm

    Re:

    I'm confused about why this is posted. There is no right to privacy when you're in public and it's perfectly legal to take pictures of you and your car when you are in public. I see this town's action as being perfectly legal and it in no way violates anyone's right to public privacy.

    Indeed. As I said above, I didn't say it was illegal. My problem is very much with the justification of it.

    That said, the fact that it's perfectly legal to take photos is one thing... for an individual. When it's the gov't who has access to a database to connect your license plate back to information about you, we're no longer talking about "public" info. We're talking about potentially using public info to connect it to private info. And that's a lot more worrisome.

    But if Google can drive around taking everyone's public picture, I don't see how this is any worse.

    Google doesn't have the DMV database.

     

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    Ben, Jul 22nd, 2009 @ 12:28pm

    Stay away from Tiburon

    And if you live there enter by a back road and don't shop or do business there.

     

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    Mike Masnick (profile), Jul 22nd, 2009 @ 12:29pm

    Re:

    One day Mike will understand that privacy stops when you enter public areas. Until then, he will continue to get all up in arms about baseless problems.

    Actually, I've been a *staunch* defender that your right to privacy is not there when you're in public, and that people and private co's have the right to take a photo. Haven't you seen what I've written about the people up in arms about Google street view? I think Street View is perfectly legal.

    The issue here is (a) with the town's defense of the plan, which is questionable and (b) the fact that the gov't had a database that can connect the public info to private info. I can take the photo of your license plate, but I don't have a database that tells me additional info about you.

    That's why this is more of a concern.

     

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    Horatio (profile), Jul 22nd, 2009 @ 12:34pm

    Police States

    I'm glad the Iranian police haven't set up a system like this yet. Nixon had to at least send out FBI goons to photograph protesters. Now the government can spy on it's own people from the comfort of their desktops. Civil protesters beware.

     

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    Mike Masnick (profile), Jul 22nd, 2009 @ 12:34pm

    Re: TD, contradictions aren't good.

    After reading this, I was quickly reminded of the stance TD took regarding folks trying to sue Google over street view photos (which had no "personal" info in it).

    Now, it's 180 degree turn around? Explain this to us, please.


    Easy. Google does not have access to private DMV database to associate license plates to your personal info.

    Google isn't using Street View to identify who you are or where you're driving (personal privacy). It's using it to identify places.

    Incredibly different situations.

     

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    Michael Vilain, Jul 22nd, 2009 @ 12:49pm

    Re: Re: Misplaced Privacy

    A judge, county sheriff and city councilman were part of a story a reporter wrote about the legality of searching through someone's trash. The reporter snatched each of these people's trash while it was on the curb awaiting collection and reported what he found in an article. The sheriff was beside himself and wanted to the reporter thrown in jail. The judge "requested" her trash be returned, knowing there were no legal grounds should the reporter decline. The city councilman had his eyes opened by this.

    I think a round-the-clock public surveillance of the city manager is in order here, with the results put on a web site for all to see. Let her know what Paris Hilton feels like.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 22nd, 2009 @ 1:08pm

    Re: reminds me of "snow crash"

    when there's a crime and a witness reports "they fled in a blue sedan," you check your data for a blue sedan in tiburon that day. it's not rocket science. in fact, it's kind of the same thing mall security does successfully every day.

     

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    Dave, Jul 22nd, 2009 @ 1:13pm

    OK

    So I will just take my privacy, and my money, somewhere else. Shark City wants to play data cop? They can do it without my business. Thanks for the heads-up. And will someone please post the digital films of the city manager to youtube? I need a good laugh...

     

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    anymouse (profile), Jul 22nd, 2009 @ 2:54pm

    It all starts somewhere.....

    It's been said before, but this poem makes the point, just replace the various groups with our privacy rights and you can see where things end....

    In Germany, they came first for the Communists, And I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Communist;
    And then they came for the trade unionists, And I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a trade unionist;
    And then they came for the Jews, And I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Jew;
    And then... they came for me... And by that time there was no one left to speak up."

    They started taking pictures of cars, and I didn't speak up because I didn't have anything to hide;
    and then they started taking pictures of groups of people, and I didn't speak up because I didn't have anything to hide;
    and then they started taking pictures of individuals crossing state borders, and I didn't speak up because I didn't have anything to hide;
    and when they changed the laws to make it illegal to "FOO", they came for me because they had a picture of me in a group of people "FOOING";
    DAMN I WISH I WOULD HAVE HAD THE COMMON SENSE TO SPEAK UP SOONER....

    ("FOO" can be anything that isn't currently illegal, but suddenly becomes illegal when the laws change, could be as small as spitting on the sidewalk, or protesting the current political leaders, it doesn't really matter what FOO is.... but if the FOO SH*TS, WEAR IT).

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 22nd, 2009 @ 3:02pm

    Re: It all starts somewhere.....

    And when people started making up scare stories, I didn't stand up, so they scared people into creating privacy where none exists.

    You must be FOOling.

     

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    Valkor, Jul 22nd, 2009 @ 3:37pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    What's wrong with breast feeding in public? What do you think they're for?

     

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    Dohn Joe, Jul 22nd, 2009 @ 4:16pm

    Now THAT'S Insane

    How exactly will capturing the license plate of stolen vehicles assist in catching the car thieves themselves? You'd end up arresting the owner if Police went to the arrest the individual at the address the plate's registered to...

     

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    CleverName, Jul 22nd, 2009 @ 6:24pm

    Re: Re: Re:

    Wow - you're kind of an asshole aren't you ?

     

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    CleverName, Jul 22nd, 2009 @ 6:30pm

    Re:

    And one day you may understand that fiduciary responsibility should be an integral part of governmental activities.

    Or maybe you think this is a good way to spend your tax dollars ...

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 22nd, 2009 @ 8:52pm

    Technically, this is incorrect. Cameras aren't actually following your car around taking pictures.

    Technically, no one said the cameras were following cars either. Her reasoning also had nothing to do with that, so you're actually the technically incorrect one.

     

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    Enrico Suarve, Jul 23rd, 2009 @ 1:16am

    Re: Re: It all starts somewhere.....

    I take it you managed to miss ALL of your 20th century history classes at school then?

    Ah hindsight - it would be a wonderful thing, but then you'd still need to have your eyes open at some point, too much effort I guess

     

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    Marcel de Jong (profile), Jul 23rd, 2009 @ 4:52am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: would make a case for stalkers everywhere

    Nope, not Rabobank, but this insurance company does have ties with Rabobank :)

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jul 23rd, 2009 @ 5:54am

    Re: Re: reminds me of "snow crash"

    Mall Security ... that's funny

     

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    Jmotley (profile), Jul 23rd, 2009 @ 5:56am

    Not an invasion of privacy.

    Anyone at anytime can be videotaped and or recorded so long they are outdoors. When you are outside there is an expectation of privacy lost. Right now if I so desired I could go and video tape any indivial I so please so long as they are outside. So this town is perfectly within the legal rights to record any and everything that goes on within their city limits. This type of thing is already happening in philadelphia where I live. In the most crime ridden neighborhoods you will see boxes with flashing blue lights up about a block apart from each other. These are cameras that record 24/7 and yes they help deter crime in that specific part of the city. A criminal will think twice about coming into that town to commit a crime because chances are greater that he/she will be caught.

     

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    Jmotley (profile), Jul 23rd, 2009 @ 6:04am

    Re:

    I will agree with you that this is a bit on the paranoid side, but think about it from a thief's point of view. The rich neighborhoods have a tendecy to leave there doors open/unlocked. Many people have mock alarms. They are naive. If I wanted to rob a house it sure as hell would not be in my neighborhood where I stand a greater chance of getting shot in the process of getting a PS3 or 360 and maybe a 36" plasma screen. I want to go to the place that I can steal jewels, gold, and not risk getting killed in the process

     

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    R. Miles (profile), Jul 23rd, 2009 @ 6:12am

    Re: Re: TD, contradictions aren't good.

    Easy. Google does not have access to private DMV database to associate license plates to your personal info.
    How do you know? For that matter, how do you know the info will be used by this town in this fashion?

    The article mentions nothing of tying the photos to a database.

    Google isn't using Street View to identify who you are or where you're driving (personal privacy). It's using it to identify places.
    Okay, I'll accept this one. But how is "where you're driving" personal privacy? Couldn't the person driving behind you do the exact same thing the article is against?

    Remember, I'm not believing they're tying photos to a database. When info about this surfaces, then I can see the beef.

    Until then, smile when you enter Tiburon.
    :)

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  99.  
    identicon
    Enrico Suarve, Jul 23rd, 2009 @ 7:48am

    Re: Re: Re: TD, contradictions aren't good.

    "Remember, I'm not believing they're tying photos to a database. When info about this surfaces, then I can see the beef"

    Yes and scope creep never happens, since the software to read numberplates and save this to central databases is incredibly easy to set up I take it we'll have your support when this happens?

    Ooops thats right (slaps head) it'll be too late and pointless by then

    Nevermind

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  100.  
    identicon
    David, Jul 23rd, 2009 @ 1:35pm

    Wedgies

    The thin end of a VERY thick wedge. Where will it all end?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  101.  
    identicon
    Allyka, Jul 23rd, 2009 @ 4:50pm

    Cameras in Tiburon

    Starting with the misinformation characterizing Tiburon as a coastal town (it is actually on the bay), the facts re the security cameras, their function and the policy restricting use can all be clarified by visiting the town website and reading the FAQs linked to the first page. For example, database of license plates will erased every 30 days unless a crime investigation is underway, then in 60 days. Even then, cars will not each be individually identified unless there is a flag.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  102.  
    icon
    chris (profile), Jul 24th, 2009 @ 11:13am

    Re: Re: reminds me of "snow crash"

    when there's a crime and a witness reports "they fled in a blue sedan," you check your data for a blue sedan in tiburon that day. it's not rocket science.

    and how much does that cost? and what is the return on that investment?

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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