Posted by Richard Willett - Memes and headline comments by David Icke Posted on 20 June 2024

New ALPR Vulnerabilities Prove Mass Surveillance Is a Public Safety Threat

By Dave Maas and Cooper Quintin

Government officials across the U.S. frequently promote the supposed, and often anecdotal, public safety benefits of automated license plate readers (ALPRs), but rarely do they examine how this very same technology poses risks to public safety that may outweigh the crimes they are attempting to address in the first place. When law enforcement uses ALPRs to document the comings and goings of every driver on the road, regardless of a nexus to a crime, it results in gargantuan databases of sensitive information, and few agencies are equipped, staffed, or trained to harden their systems against quickly evolving cybersecurity threats.

The Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency (CISA), a component of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, released an advisory last week that should be a wake up call to the thousands of local government agencies around the country that use ALPRs to surveil the travel patterns of their residents by scanning their license plates and “fingerprinting” their vehicles. The bulletin outlines seven vulnerabilities in Motorola Solutions’ Vigilant ALPRs, including missing encryption and insufficiently protected credentials.

To give a sense of the scale of the data collected with ALPRs, EFF found that just 80 agencies in California using primarily Vigilant technology, collected more than 1.6 billion license plate scans (CSV) in 2022. This data can be used to track people in real time, identify their “pattern of life,” and even identify their relations and associates. An EFF analysis from 2021 found that 99.9% of this data is unrelated to any public safety interest when it’s collected. If accessed by malicious parties, the information could be used to harass, stalk, or even extort innocent people.

Unlike location data a person shares with, say, GPS-based navigation app Waze, ALPRs collect and store this information without consent and there is very little a person can do to have this information purged from these systems. And while a person can turn off their phone if they are engaging in a sensitive activity, such as visiting a reproductive health facility or attending a protest, tampering with your license plate is a crime in many jurisdictions. Because drivers don’t have control over ALPR data, the onus for protecting the data lies with the police and sheriffs who operate the surveillance and the vendors that provide the technology.

It’s a general tenet of cybersecurity that you should not collect and retain more personal data than you are capable of protecting. Perhaps ironically, a Motorola Solutions cybersecurity specialist wrote an article in Police Chief magazine this month that  public safety agencies “are often challenged when it comes to recruiting and retaining experienced cybersecurity personnel,” even though “the potential for harm from external factors is substantial.”

Read More: New ALPR Vulnerabilities Prove Mass Surveillance Is a Public Safety Threat

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