Become a fan of Slashdot on Facebook

 



Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Check out the new SourceForge HTML5 internet speed test! No Flash necessary and runs on all devices. ×

EFF: License Plate Scanner Deal Turns Texas Cops Into Debt Collectors (eff.org) 442

An anonymous reader writes: The Electronic Frontier Foundation is sounding the alarm about a deal between Texas law enforcement agencies and Vigilant Solutions — a company that provides vehicle surveillance tech. The deal will give Texas police access to a bunch of automated license plate readers (ALPRs), and access to the company's data and analytic tools. For free. How is Vigilant making money? "The government agency in turn gives Vigilant access to information about all its outstanding court fees, which the company then turns into a hot list to feed into the free ALPR systems. As police cars patrol the city, they ping on license plates associated with the fees. The officer then pulls the driver over and offers them a devil's bargain: get arrested, or pay the original fine with an extra 25% processing fee tacked on, all of which goes to Vigilant. In other words, the driver is paying Vigilant to provide the local police with the technology used to identify and then detain the driver. If the ALPR pings on a parked car, the officer can get out and leave a note to visit Vigilant's payment website." Vigilant also gets to keep the data collected on citizens while the ALPRs are in use.
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

EFF: License Plate Scanner Deal Turns Texas Cops Into Debt Collectors

Comments Filter:
  • by daknapp ( 156051 ) on Tuesday January 26, 2016 @08:17PM (#51378543)

    Wow. Who could possibly have seen this coming?

    (yes, that was sarcasm)

    • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 26, 2016 @09:38PM (#51379045)
      I have a delinquent client in Texas that owes me money. It's inconvenient for me to try to get payment from him through the courts. Maybe I can just contract with Vigilant to have him pulled over or jailed....
      • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

        by Anonymous Coward

        It's just one 'e' short of Vigilante. That can't be a coincidence.

  • The rest of us are glad that the cops are easily collecting fines that the government has already levied.

    • by mosdave ( 1262828 ) on Tuesday January 26, 2016 @08:41PM (#51378685)
      did you read TFA? we "fools" think this is horrible because our public servants are bulk collecting data to be sold by a private company to the highest bidder.
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Nutria ( 679911 )

        our public servants are bulk collecting data to be sold by a private company to the highest bidder.

        It's 2016. Pull your head out of your ass and stop fantasizing that any judge that can read a precedent won't say, "car owners that display licenses in full view for everyone to see have no expectation of privacy".

        • by retchdog ( 1319261 ) on Tuesday January 26, 2016 @10:14PM (#51379241) Journal

          lol. "Score: 0, Flamebait" should be "Score: 0, Horrible Truth".

        • by JaredOfEuropa ( 526365 ) on Wednesday January 27, 2016 @04:39AM (#51380489) Journal
          And since we now have face recognition, everyone who displays their face in plain view have no expectation of privacy either. If you don't want to be tracked, it's a burqa for you... or you can just keep walking with your head up your arse, I suppose.

          Over here, privacy laws make a clear distinction between data being available, and the acts of collecting, processing and sharing that data. Each of those acts is strictly regulated, and the fact that your license plate is always in full view doesn't mean that everyone has the right to track your whereabouts 24/7. In this case, the idea behind this setup (catching outstanding fines with a license plate reader) does not clash with principles of good privacy, but the implementation does: a private company having access to that list of deadbeats, for instance. I would expect the police to (be ordered to) demand a system that is under their full control, with no 3rd parties having access to any of the data.
    • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 26, 2016 @08:42PM (#51378689)

      Yes Using Cops as Debit Collectors.
      What Could go wrong?
      See Ferguson.

      The Citizens hate the Cops. Treat them like crap.
      The Cops Hate the Citizens for Treating them like crap.

      The Police Need to be liked and trusted by the Citizens to be effective.

      Bad Idea, But they may go for it.

      • by StillAnonymous ( 595680 ) on Tuesday January 26, 2016 @10:57PM (#51379419)

        If the police end up caring about the public, then they can't be trusted to act in the interests of those in power when they're told to go bash skulls at a food riot in progress.

        That just won't do. To prevent that, animosity must be generated between the police and the people. Psychopathic goons who want to lay a beat-down must be given hiring preference. Unjust court rulings must let police off the hook for their wrongs and overly punish regular folks for even the slightest perceived infractions.

        That's how you get the people busy fighting among themselves and ignoring the real problems in our society: bankers/financiers, crooked politicians, and billionaire globalist industrialists.

    • by rsmith-mac ( 639075 ) on Tuesday January 26, 2016 @08:45PM (#51378703)

      Agreed. TFS opens up with the headline "debt collectors," but there's a massive difference between private debts and public debts. And even then there's still a huge difference between debts like taxes, and punitive debts like fines.

      If you can't pay your court fines, then you're supposed to be in jail in the first place. That you're essentially racking up more fines by being on lam (and causing the government to expend resources to catch you) doesn't seem all that problematic to me.

      • by DaHat ( 247651 ) on Tuesday January 26, 2016 @09:00PM (#51378821) Homepage

        If you can't pay your court fines, then you're supposed to be in jail in the first place.

        So a sort of... debtors prison where the in debt person who cannot pay on the outside, is sure to find a way to earn enough while in jail to pay the fines... while also possibly costing the municipality even more to house & feed them.

        • Of course, the jail charges the inmates for room & board...it gets added on to the outstanding fines.

        • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

          by Anonymous Coward

          Yes, but you do work while you're in jail for a little less than what the jail is charging you (yes, charging you) for living in there, and it's subsidized
          so the people who own the private prisons make a lot of money doing this.

          Wait. that's not good at all.

        • Not sure about Texas but a lot of places allow you to sit your fines off in jail for about $30 a day. At least that was the going rate in the 90s when I took the option. I did it out of protest but couldn't really afford the fine either so i don't know if income has anything to do with it either.

        • by paiute ( 550198 )
          Tipstaffs and sponging houses - here we come.
      • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 26, 2016 @09:08PM (#51378877)

        Municipalities Profit from poverty through excessive court fees [washingtonpost.com]

        Texas judge blows lid on speeding ticket racket [thefreetho...roject.com]

        Policing and Profit [harvardlawreview.org]

        It's a modern day debtors penal system. If you're poor, the cops and courts keep fucking you over so that you never get off the court fee/fine merry-go-round. That's the system you're supporting and the "fools" complain about.

        • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 26, 2016 @09:40PM (#51379053)

          Unfortunately, the one time I came to court for a poor friend I saw that is exactly how it is and I was so disappointed. All the poor people who couldn't afford lawyers were paraded in front of everyone in court with their charges being talked about by the judge ina very loud disapproving voice. But when it cane time for the well-to-do guy with a lawyer it seemed like a rock star came into court. Court people moved out of the way, the judge whispered for 20 mins to the lawyer, and then the judge announced all charges dismissed. All because the guy could pay to play. Meanwhile my friend was levied very heavy court fines she could never pay off -- more than the cost of a lawyer even. It is a rigged system where you do have to pay to play and I am so disappointed.

          • Once, when I was a contractor for the City, I had to go to court for a speeding ticket. I just took the morning off, and came into court with my City ID badge around my neck. Instead of the normal "standing in front of everyone", they took me into a back room. Once there, the TOTAL "fee" was $50, about 1/4 of the ticket alone. I didn't ask for this, but of course I didn't argue either.
            • Once, when I was a contractor for the City, I had to go to court for a speeding ticket. I just took the morning off, and came into court with my City ID badge around my neck. Instead of the normal "standing in front of everyone", they took me into a back room. Once there, the TOTAL "fee" was $50, about 1/4 of the ticket alone. I didn't ask for this, but of course I didn't argue either.

              Why are you shocked?

              Everyone is equal, but some people are more equal than others.

              A friend of mine is a pilot for the local sherrif's office, I taught him to fly about 10 years ago. I have his business card in my wallet. I've never needed it, but one day it might come in handy, you never know.

              It works this way EVERYWHERE in the world, this isn't unique to Texas or anywhere.

      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward

        If you can't pay your court fines, then you're supposed to be in jail in the first place.

        Wrong. In the USA. being unable to pay fines due to poverty isn't an arrestable offence. (as opposed to having money and refusing to pay)

        Of course, that doesn't stop many towns from ignoring the law. There are many ongoing lawsuits about this:

        http://www.buzzfeed.com/kendal... [buzzfeed.com]

        http://bigstory.ap.org/article... [ap.org]

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      I'm not glad that a private company is in the mix. We've seen what happens when red light cameras are turned over to private companies: the yellows get illegally shortened, tickets start going out to people who didn't run lights, etc. Corporations have no business in law enforcement, the incentive to fuck things up for profit is just too high.

      Speaking of profit, Vigilant is tacking 25% onto the fees these people already can't afford, and now they're being threatened with jail. This sort of shit is why the D

      • by Nutria ( 679911 )

        Vigilant is tacking 25% onto the fees these people already can't afford

        Assuming facts not already in evidence.

      • This sort of shit is why the DOJ is investigating St. Louis County, MO

        MO is a purple state at worst, not your demonic "red state" - and ANY large city is going to have a very Blue government.

        damn if red states aren't trying their best to bring it back

        You JUST GAVE an example of a very blue area doing what you didn't like - speak to your own kind sir before slandering the less of two totalitarian dictatorships.

    • by Anna Merikin ( 529843 ) on Tuesday January 26, 2016 @08:59PM (#51378815) Journal

      B. Mussolini defined fascism as "marriage between government and corporations."

      I'm just saying.

      • by sg_oneill ( 159032 ) on Tuesday January 26, 2016 @09:28PM (#51379003)

        Im not sure this is a helpful distinction. Fascism was a much more complicated beast than simply the collusion of government and capitalism. There was an underlying mythology of the nation and of violence. Fascism was the glorification of the dictatorship of the nationalists, and all had to fall into compliance, citizens, companies, the military and so on, and any opponent was to be smashes with maximum violence. I dont know this exactly describes this. Certainly the tendency towards unreasonable patriotism certainly doesnt help, but its not quite fascism, its something else....

        • I am sorry you think it is unhelpful; I intended to put it in historical terms. In context, though, to be fair, Mussolini said this before Hitler came to power. His was an Italian Fascism, and, as you say, it was based on brutality. Nonetheless, it is his definition, and it explains to me how, once fascists achieve power, they are corrupted by it.

          • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

            by Anonymous Coward

            Actually mussolini never said that. It is widely debunked, here is one of many such debunking articles that came up in google, you can find more if you distrust this particular author:

            http://daniel-ruth.blogspot.co... [blogspot.com]

        • by houghi ( 78078 ) on Wednesday January 27, 2016 @08:43AM (#51381077)

          http://www.rense.com/general37... [rense.com]
          Make of it what you want. This does not mean the USofA is a fascist regime, but it is running in that direction, while yelling FREEDOM!

          Dr. Lawrence Britt has examined the fascist regimes of Hitler (Germany), Mussolini (Italy), Franco (Spain), Suharto (Indonesia) and several Latin American regimes. Britt found 14 defining characteristics common to each:

          1. Powerful and Continuing Nationalism - Fascist regimes tend to make constant use of patriotic mottos, slogans, symbols, songs, and other paraphernalia. Flags are seen everywhere, as are flag symbols on clothing and in public displays.

          2. Disdain for the Recognition of Human Rights - Because of fear of enemies and the need for security, the people in fascist regimes are persuaded that human rights can be ignored in certain cases because of "need." The people tend to look the other way or even approve of torture, summary executions, assassinations, long incarcerations of prisoners, etc.

          3. Identification of Enemies/Scapegoats as a Unifying Cause - The people are rallied into a unifying patriotic frenzy over the need to eliminate a perceived common threat or foe: racial , ethnic or religious minorities; liberals; communists; socialists, terrorists, etc.

          4. Supremacy of the Military - Even when there are widespread
          domestic problems, the military is given a disproportionate amount of government funding, and the domestic agenda is neglected. Soldiers and military service are glamorized.

          5. Rampant Sexism - The governments of fascist nations tend to be almost exclusively male-dominated. Under fascist regimes, traditional gender roles are made more rigid. Divorce, abortion and homosexuality are suppressed and the state is represented as the ultimate guardian of the family institution.

          6. Controlled Mass Media - Sometimes to media is directly controlled by the government, but in other cases, the media is indirectly controlled by government regulation, or sympathetic media spokespeople and executives. Censorship, especially in war time, is very common.

          7. Obsession with National Security - Fear is used as a motivational tool by the government over the masses.

          8. Religion and Government are Intertwined - Governments in fascist nations tend to use the most common religion in the nation as a tool to manipulate public opinion. Religious rhetoric and terminology is common from government leaders, even when the major tenets of the religion are diametrically opposed to the government's policies or actions.

          9. Corporate Power is Protected - The industrial and business aristocracy of a fascist nation often are the ones who put the government leaders into power, creating a mutually beneficial business/government relationship and power elite.

          10. Labor Power is Suppressed - Because the organizing power of labor is the only real threat to a fascist government, labor unions are either eliminated entirely, or are severely suppressed.

          11. Disdain for Intellectuals and the Arts - Fascist nations tend to promote and tolerate open hostility to higher education, and academia. It is not uncommon for professors and other academics to be censored or even arrested. Free expression in the arts and letters is openly attacked.

          12. Obsession with Crime and Punishment - Under fascist regimes, the police are given almost limitless power to enforce laws. The people are often willing to overlook police abuses and even forego civil liberties in the name of patriotism. There is often a national police force with virtually unlimited power in fascist nations.

          13. Rampant Cronyism and Corruption - Fascist regimes almost always are governed by groups of friends and associates who appoint each other to government positions and use governmental power and authority to protect their friends from accountability. It is not uncommon in fascist regimes for national resources and even treasures to be appropriated or even outright stolen by govern

      • He is wrong. A thing can't marry itself.

    • The cops just threaten the person to force them to pay Vigilient the fine + 25% "processing fee", that fee has no basis in law. If they pay the fine, that's the payment made.

      The copy DOESN'T threaten to arrest them if they don't pay the FINE, he threatens to arrest them if they don't pay the FINE+Vigilents 25%.

      • by Nutria ( 679911 )

        that fee has no basis in law

        You need to read a bit closer, since the law explicitly gives debt collectors the right to charge a processing fee to get ancient, uncollected fees.

    • by pepsikid ( 2226416 ) on Tuesday January 26, 2016 @09:39PM (#51379049)

      Vigalent cameras (and one major competitor plus a host of smaller members of the scanned license plate database industry) are placed in fixed locations as well as attached to damn near every tow truck in the country. This is why tow trucks keep taking quick jaunts through parking lots, going too fast for a human to read plates and check lists. The cameras are reading every plate. It's a bonus reason for them to stage their trucks along congested expressways. These companies compile and keep the data for decades.

      https://www.aclu.org/feature/y... [aclu.org]

      This fool thinks that it's horrible that a detailed database of every license plate that Vigalent cameras ever saw, and the place and time it was seen, is now in the hands of law enforcement and probably soon in available for a small fee. Spouse abusers, kidnappers and hitmen take note. NSA/FBI, whoever can't collect this legally themselves, can now fetch a outline of anyone's life and create a profit for the private industry supplier.

      • by tsotha ( 720379 )

        NSA/FBI, whoever can't collect this legally themselves...

        I don't believe this is true. License numbers are public information, and you have no expectation of privacy when you're driving on public roads.

        • I'll never understand why some people don't see the difference between law enforcement being able to surveil a suspect, and law enforcement tracking every citizen closely all the time.

          • by tsotha ( 720379 )
            I wasn't making a comment on how things should be, just the way things are. It's not illegal for government agencies to collect public information.
  • by mysidia ( 191772 ) on Tuesday January 26, 2016 @08:31PM (#51378619)

    The officer then pulls the driver over and offers them a devil's bargain: get arrested, or pay the original fine with an extra 25% processing fee tacked on,

    The driver should just tell the Officer "That information is incorrect, the debt is in dispute. Do you have a warrant for this?"

    • That will just ensure you spend the next couple hours (at least) waiting for the actual warrant to come through. Unless you actually don't have a warrant out on you - then you might have an improper arrest case. But I doubt the records are in error that often.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Better have a copy of the debt being paid on hand or GO TO DIRECTLY TO JAIL, do not collect $200. This happens more than you might think.
      What is horrible about this, is that a private company is getting the proceeds "plus" %25, when A. the original fine is what was levied, and B. this is taking money that should go to the courts and is directing it away from what it was intended to fund.Of course, this will bring in more fugitives, but will eventually cause a feedback loop to where it will encourage more to

    • by mjm1231 ( 751545 )

      Why not just say, "Yeah, that debt might be valid. Now, what charge is it you're arresting me on?"
      AFIK, owing a debt isn't a criminal offence.

    • by tsotha ( 720379 )
      Yeah... the problem is the cop does have a warrant to arrest you if you haven't paid your fines. These are not private debts, and fines levied by government are not "in dispute".
      • by epyT-R ( 613989 )

        Well, they should be, especially if they're unreasonable. Frankly, the government shouldn't be issuing fines. It's too much of a financial incentive.

        • What incentivisation method would you prefer for small scale issues? The Government, which was elected by the people, doesn't want you to exceed 55mph on this road. If it isn't a fine what method would you use?

    • by PPH ( 736903 )

      Lucifer (pulled over by cop): "Go on, take it. Buy yourself something pretty."

  • It would seem like even the most resiliently learning-disabled law enforcement agency would be interested in repairing its tarnished reputation more so than becoming entangled in some shady information collection for-profit partnership with a dubious private enterprise partner.
  • Glad to hear it (Score:5, Insightful)

    by penguinoid ( 724646 ) on Tuesday January 26, 2016 @08:51PM (#51378747) Homepage Journal

    Surveillance should be aggressively monetized as early and as often and as obtrusively as possible. It's the only way people will understand what it means for people to spy on you.

  • by Firethorn ( 177587 ) on Tuesday January 26, 2016 @08:56PM (#51378785) Homepage Journal

    One thing I noted from the description was that the 25% goes to Vigilant, pure profit for them. But if the person can't pay, it's arrest and probably jail, bail, and all that - which is a public cost. I'm sure vigilant isn't seeing any of those costs.

    Not that I like the idea of people not paying their fines and judgements, but it's my understanding that in many cases they can't pay, not that they don't want to. In some cases they don't even know.

    Given the disparity between fees and jail, I wouldn't be surprised if the county ends up seeing this system cost more in jail and processing expenses than it gains in fines being paid.

    • by Mitreya ( 579078 )

      One thing I noted from the description was that the 25% goes to Vigilant, pure profit for them. But if the person can't pay, it's arrest and probably jail, bail, and all that - which is a public cost. I'm sure vigilant isn't seeing any of those costs.

      Also, for anyone who is accidentally getting on this "debt" list, these people can either pay the fee or fight it at their own expense. There is no downside to either police or Vigilant to falsely list someone

      I'd be surprised if they don't regularly add a few people at random. If the person can afford it, they will pay the fine rather than spend day in court to prove their innocence. Worst case scenario, nothing is collected.

    • by jklovanc ( 1603149 ) on Tuesday January 26, 2016 @09:15PM (#51378923)

      One thing I noted from the description was that the 25% goes to Vigilant, pure profit for them.

      It is not pure profit as Vigilant pays for the following.
      1. The scanners in the police cars.
      2. The servers to handle the database and the queries.
      3. The data entry and administration of the database
      4. The dispute process for transactions.

      but it's my understanding that in many cases they can't pay, not that they don't want to.

      They should have gone to court and dealt with the issue. There are many programs to reduce fines for low income offenders.

      Given the disparity between fees and jail, I wouldn't be surprised if the county ends up seeing this system cost more in jail and processing expenses than it gains in fines being paid.

      It is at least as possible that the word will get around about this process and many more fines will be paid when people realize that they can be found much more easily.

    • by tsotha ( 720379 )

      One thing I noted from the description was that the 25% goes to Vigilant, pure profit for them.

      Sure... pure profit minus all their up-front expenses. By your definition ever dollar of revenue everywhere is "pure profit".

  • The solution? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by jgotts ( 2785 ) <(moc.liamg) (ta) (sttogj)> on Tuesday January 26, 2016 @09:01PM (#51378825)

    Fight every accusation against you in court, however minor. $10 parking ticket? Fight it.

    If everyone contested every civil fine, then there wouldn't be civil fines. There aren't enough hours in the day to adjudicate every fine, and courts know it. They expect you to pay it, and they love for you to pay it online.

    If you must pay, for example, a $10 parking ticket, go into the office of the entity during business hours and pay with a $100 bill. If the ticket is some amount of money like 55 or 65 dollars, pay in singles. Do not use the Internet, mail, a credit card, or a drop box. Waste the maximum amount of time possible. If you want to speak with the cashier's supervisor, do it. If you got your ticket in a small town, get the mayor on the phone and have a discussion about it, seeing if he can do something to help you.

    These are all things that I do, and they work great. When it costs more than a small percentage of $x to collect $x, people have second thoughts. Nobody wants the hassle of having to look a human being in the eyes. It makes people very uncomfortable.

    Why do this? Because when you don't show up they hound you to pay them. Turn the tables and annoy the shit out of them instead. They'll get their money eventually, but there is always the chance that they'll make it go away just to make you go away.

    • Re:The solution? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by 110010001000 ( 697113 ) on Tuesday January 26, 2016 @09:55PM (#51379137) Homepage Journal
      So I can waste a day of my life to get out of paying a $10 parking fine for an parking offense that I committed? I think I would rather just pay the $10, OR NOT PARK ILLEGALLY AND GET THE FINE in the first place! Why do you think you shouldn't have to pay legitimate fines? Are you the King?
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      People like you are the reason why we can't have nice things.

      Look, if you parked illegally, or drove too fast, or whatever it was - just pay the damn' fine already. It's the cost you pay for the convenience of whatever it was you did wrong. You owe it. I'll type that again, more slowly: You. Owe. It.

      You're like the idiot I had on the phone a couple of hours ago, who was insisting he'd never authorized us to direct debit him. Well, Mr Fucktard, someone wrote your bank account number on this form and signed i

    • This has another possible outcome. The fines just get larger to cover all the processing. Do you even understand why there are civil fines? They are there to remind people when they do socially unacceptable things by giving them a slap on the wrist. Without these reminders there would be a lot more problems with society.

    • You've never had a ticket in your life. What really happens is you plead not guilty by sending in a check for the minor fine plus the extra 400% "court costs" that are tacked on. If you are found not guilty the check is returned. I don't think there is a magistrate or court in the country that accepts cash.

      • by sconeu ( 64226 )

        Read your dollar bill.

        "this note is legal tender for all debts, public and private"

        They'd damn well BETTER accept cash.

  • Who had his drawer open to make this fly?

  • by gstoddart ( 321705 ) on Tuesday January 26, 2016 @09:08PM (#51378885) Homepage

    So, basically the police are now funding their activities by running a shakedown racket?

    Is this shit even legal? Or have we gotten past the point where we pretend the cops give a shit about legal?

    This is extortion, plain and simple. Congratulations, Texas, your entire fucking law enforcement needs to be indicted under the RICO Act.

    Fuck the police, they're all crooks these days.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 26, 2016 @09:26PM (#51378997)

    The problem isn't that the police detect unpaid court fees or scan license plates. Such scanners have been used in the UK for years where they mainly trigger on cars with no insurance. A car with no insurance is 5 times as likely to end up in a crash than an insured car, which is why impounding uninsured cars is a matter of road safety. If people drive, their cars should be ok and they should pay what they owe according to the court.

    The problem is elsewhere in the article. "Texas police fund it by gouging people who have outstanding court fines and handing Vigilant all of the data they gather on drivers for nearly unlimited commercial use." and "the ALPR data system Vigilant says contains more than 2.8-billion plate scans and is growing by more than 70 million scans a month. This also includes a wide variety of analytical and predictive software tools."
    This mean the police builds a database for a private company telling where each car is whenever the police just happens to pass by. This can then make a history of positions for each car, which they can use for whatever they want or sell. Most countries ban private people/companies from having such databases.

    I just happen to read on ALPR cameras yesterday. Real ones the police pay for and the police keep the data in police records and nowhere else. It saves each license plate it detects together with a timestamp and location. If there is no hit, then it will be deleted within 24 hours. If there is a hit, then it can be stored in 5 years as it may be used as court evidence. If something unusual happens and the police knows the criminals escaped in a car, but not which one, then they can keep non-hits for more than 24 hours until they know which license plate to look for. Specifics on who can order a non-delete and precisely why wasn't specified, but the examples were a bit extreme and sort of went into state of emergency. I would like to know the other end and ask what is the minimal it takes to trigger such a decision.

    The computer connected to the cameras has a list of license plates to trigger on, but there is nothing technical in the system telling why the police should be interested in the car. This mean the hit list can be filled with cars wanted from crime scenes or where owners are wanted and so on. In other words it is possible it will react if the car driving past the police is driven by somebody wanted for assault, but without the ALPR system, the police wouldn't have noticed.

    It sounds to me like a great tool for the police, but it should be for the police only and there should be a watch on it to prevent abuse, because it's clearly possible to abuse this, just like it is possible to abuse nearly all other technology.

  • by nehumanuscrede ( 624750 ) on Tuesday January 26, 2016 @09:46PM (#51379091)

    This is only an issue until they make a mistake and arrest the wrong person for a debt that may or may not even exist. ( The courts never make a mistake right ? Like the parking ticket I received in Lubbock, yet have never set foot anywhere near it :| )

    Then the police, the city and the company will understand how costly that mistake will be.

  • Yet another way... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by lionchild ( 581331 ) on Tuesday January 26, 2016 @10:07PM (#51379207) Journal

    This is merely another way to send poor people to jail. If a person couldn't pay the original fine, what makes us believe they can pay the original fine plus 25%? So, the result is they go to jail, and the tax payers then pay even more money to house and feed them, but ...still never get the original fine, do we?

    Someone has not thought this through, completely.

    Meanwhile, when they're in jail, they're being housed likely by a 3rd party whose making money on keeping people in jail, because they're providing security or food, or the physical facilities, or the parole services you offer when they get out, but they can't pay that either...so they go back to jail, where the cycle never ends.

    • by FlyHelicopters ( 1540845 ) on Wednesday January 27, 2016 @01:36AM (#51380013)

      Someone has not thought this through, completely.

      On the other hand, you might consider they thought it through very well.

      This is merely another way to send poor people to jail.

      Ding, ding... we have a winner...

      So, the result is they go to jail, and the tax payers then pay even more money to house and feed them, but ...still never get the original fine, do we?

      Why do you think obtaining the original fine was the goal? It is a nice side effect when it happens, but it really isn't the goal.

      Hell, I'm well off and even I know this.

      Meanwhile, when they're in jail, they're being housed likely by a 3rd party whose making money on keeping people in jail, because they're providing security or food, or the physical facilities, or the parole services you offer when they get out, but they can't pay that either...so they go back to jail, where the cycle never ends.

      Congrats, you just figured it out! :) Give the man a prize.

  • by MikeRT ( 947531 ) on Tuesday January 26, 2016 @10:12PM (#51379233)

    They get a free and presumably effective tool to enforce the law and the fines go to pay the company that provides them the tool.

    The flip side of this tool is also that the company can provide analytics to seniors in the political system on how the police are using their tool, and they won't get the tool dropped. Why? Because the agency knows that Podunk Jurisdiction ain't going to pay huge licensing fees in this economy to replace the system with a competitor's tool because the company responded to a request from the Attorney General or the legislature on how the police were using their product. It's a captive audience.

  • Just wait (Score:5, Insightful)

    by khelms ( 772692 ) on Tuesday January 26, 2016 @10:28PM (#51379303)
    until some minority driver tries to speed away and the cops chase him down and shoot him over an unpaid parking ticket.
  • by wisnoskij ( 1206448 ) on Tuesday January 26, 2016 @11:04PM (#51379445) Homepage

    It sounds like the police have hired Vigilant to provide automated licence place scanners for cop cars, as well as running the backend servers, so that police can catch people who owe the government court fees. But instead of getting paid upfront Vigilant works for the 25% mark up that is charged to people who made the police look for them instead of paying on their own. While there is definitely privacy concerns with the government allowing some potentially confidential information (though LPs are publicly visible and often court results are as well, I think) out of their hands, it actually sounds like a decent arrangement. Its pure profit for the police, they get better tech that allows them to easily track down people who owe the government money, and they do not even have to pay for it. And 25% is actually a far far smaller late-fee/threaten-fee then you normally see.

    I think Vigilant got a pretty raw deal here, and are probably betting that their will be far far more things automated licence plate readers can be used for, and they are hoping to be on the ground flour when the market opens up. A camera on a police car, with the right backend, could almost completely replace police officers, so there is pretty unlimited growth potential for this technology.

  • by AndyKron ( 937105 ) on Wednesday January 27, 2016 @09:23AM (#51381355)
    Fuck this country.

We are not a loved organization, but we are a respected one. -- John Fisher

Working...