San Francisco Police Are Using Driverless Cars As Mobile Surveillance Cameras -...

 2 months ago
source link: https://tech.slashdot.org/story/22/05/13/2149243/san-francisco-police-are-using-driverless-cars-as-mobile-surveillance-cameras
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San Francisco Police Are Using Driverless Cars As Mobile Surveillance Cameras

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BeerFartMoron shares a report from Motherboard: For the last five years, driverless car companies have been testing their vehicles on public roads. These vehicles constantly roam neighborhoods while laden with a variety of sensors including video cameras capturing everything going on around them in order to operate safely and analyze instances where they don't. While the companies themselves, such as Alphabet's Waymo and General Motors' Cruise, tout the potential transportation benefits their services may one day offer, they don't publicize another use case, one that is far less hypothetical: Mobile surveillance cameras for police departments.

"Autonomous vehicles are recording their surroundings continuously and have the potential to help with investigative leads," says a San Francisco Police department training document obtained by Motherboard via a public records request. "Investigations has already done this several times."

Privacy advocates say the revelation that police are actively using AV footage is cause for alarm. "This is very concerning," Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) senior staff attorney Adam Schwartz told Motherboard. He said cars in general are troves of personal consumer data, but autonomous vehicles will have even more of that data from capturing the details of the world around them. "So when we see any police department identify AVs as a new source of evidence, that's very concerning."

As companies continue to make public roadways their testing grounds for these vehicles, everyone should understand them for what they are -- rolling surveillance devices that expand existing widespread spying technologies," said Chris Gilliard, Visiting Research Fellow at Harvard Kennedy School Shorenstein Center. "Law enforcement agencies already have access to automated license plate readers, geofence warrants, Ring Doorbell footage, as well as the ability to purchase location data. This practice will extend the reach of an already pervasive web of surveillance."
  • There is a scene in the movie where the students are taping lectures, so the professor just puts a tape of himself giving the lecture.

    Pretty soon San Fransisco will be so expensive that it will be just be robots serving robots. Robot cops stopping robot cars.

    • The long overdue robot uprising has to start somewhere, right?

      • Re:

        Yep. Next thing will be guns mounted on the cars.

        After that? Remote control tanks, obviously - because gangbangers can break ordinary cars too easily.

      • Re:

        Given the progenitors of our robot overlords, the army of robots will probably try to sell us something. We'll get pop up ads, but it will be in real life. A robot pops up and recites an add to us.On the street, while we're driving, in our house. anywhere.

    • Re:

      I hope they turn out to be like RoboCop* and not ED-209.
      But I'm not betting on it.

      *The original RoboCop. That "remake" never happened.

    • Re:

      Same scene in "Real Genius" a year earlier...
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?... [youtube.com]

      • Re:

        And speaking of robot prostitutesâ¦

        Back when it was cool for movies to be rapey

      • Re:

        "Human cop stopping robot cars. That would be racist!" You mean Rocist.
    • There is a scene in the movie where the students are taping lectures, so the professor just puts a tape of himself giving the lecture.

      That was Real Genius [youtube.com].
      ..and just because the song is so awesomely 80s-licious, here's the full song [youtube.com].

    • Re:

      Will the robots look like artificial swine?
    • Re:

      I remember that scene being in "Real Genius"/a too. [imdb.com]

      Never watched "back to School" butconsidering the two movies were made only a year apart there might have been some borrowed content between them.

  • The article and the 3-page police statement it links to don't have the details. Of course it has the potential to be a privacy concern, but it is also nothing new.

    On the one hand, police already rely on third party camera and sensor footage constantly. Cameras from ATMs, cameras from building security, cameras from home security systems, cameras from their own police cruisers that have dashcams and license plate readers and personal body cameras.

    On the other hand, sometimes they push too far. Sometimes rather than for investigating crimes like auto theft or break-ins, they have used them to spy on protestors or occasionally to spy on love interests.

    Cameras and recording devices have always added power to the people who control and access them, and they've always needed safeguards against abuse. Whoever has access to the cameras has power, whether that is police, or business owners, or homeowners, the recording is evidence and evidence is power.

    The arrangement discussed here, where third-party businesses own and control the data and court orders are required to request and access specific data, is the arrangement I'm most comfortable with. It establishes a paper trail and a burden to reduce the risk of police snooping where they shouldn't, and that same paper trail serves well for those wanting to investigate wrongdoing. Unfortunately it makes it easier for the businesses to snoop through their own data to help extract more money and exploit people, but since businesses aren't the one throwing people in jail nor issuing fines, I'm more tolerant of that.

    • Re:

      they have used them to spy on protestors

      How can police "spy" on protesters?

      A protester is generally someone who is in public protesting. If someone is in public doing something, it's impossible to spy on them as they have no expectation of privacy - from police or from anyone else - in the first place.

      The entire purpose of protesting is to usually to be seen. Rarely does a protester pick a deserted industrial area at night where they are the only person around and walk around with a protest sign that they

      • Re:

        Easy. In public you have no expectation of privacy, but what you have is an expectation of anonymity which the police taking pictures of then identifying you by running your face through recognition databases violates.
        • Re:

          No, unless you take steps to insure your anonymity (say be wearing a mask), you don't have any expectation of anonymity in public.

          You don't control who sees you in public or who else is in the public area you are in -- so how could you have an expectation of anonymity? If your mother, child, boss, spouse, father, neighbor, or pastor see you, do you really expect that they have a requirement to "not see you"?

          Is it your position that if a police officer recognizes you in a public place based on a wanted pictu

          • Re:

            That is a silly strawman argument. If someone is wanted by the police, then there is obviously probable cause to collect evidence.

            Police harassment and intimidation of non-violent protestors by photoing license plates and running face-recog is not the same thing at all. Protesting is not a crime.

            • Re:

              No, in the case I posed that officer was not LOOKING for the individual, they just happened to, upon seeing them, notice that their face, which was clearly visible to any observer, matched someone that was wanted. The officer had no PC to take the action they took, nor did they need it -- any more than you or I would if we recognized the suspect's face from a wanted poster at the post office (yes, they really used to have those!) and called 911.

              As long as a camera is where it views an area an officer could

          • Re:

            Ah yes, the "for the cheeldren" argument. Personally, I find children pretty annoying so it doesn't sway me.
        • Re:

          Um, no.

          The only way to be outdoors and not be be recognized by anybody is to wear a mask.

      • Re:

        Like this. [eff.org] Or this [slashdot.org]. Or this [slashdot.org].

        • Re:

          Those examples are not "spying". They are observing just as an officer (or private citizen) could do. There is no requirement that law enforcement be inefficient just to let criminals go free.

          Are the police banned from hiring human officers who happen to have keen memories because they are more likely to recognize a suspect from the "published" list of wanted suspects in the area?

    • Not the "it's not new" argument again.

      The tech itself is very rarely new. What IS new is the scale.

      The difference between a holiday snapshot and Google streetview? scale
      The difference between local CCTV and the NSA? scale

      When surveillance scales up, it has new effects. Large scale chilling effects, for example.
      https://www.socialcooling.com/ [socialcooling.com]

      "war is nothing new, we've always had murder"

  • Surveillance technologies are so pervasive and so broad that privacy against government and corporate spying is a lost battle. The public simply doesn't care enough about privacy to apply the needed political pressure. I wish this were not the case, but it appears to be the sad reality. Each additional surveillance technology does make it worse, but I believe we are already far beyond the point of no return.

    Yes, it is possible though great effort to avoid surveillance, but as long as the great majority of the public doesn't make that effort, the battle is still lost. Soon, if not already, efforts to avoid surveillance will themselves be seen as suspicious.
    • Amateur radio buffs, can cheaply cobble together some phased array,highly directional microwave testing devices. Lets hope someone posts a youtube video seeing if cars have any design flaws or parasitic RF leakages. If the mob is angry enough, driverless cars could suffer eggings and the like. If one can get a Mc'D's paper bag into the car, maybe a bear can give the car a workover.
    • Re:

      People couldn't imagine weaning our societies of oil in 70's. Look at the progress we're making now.

      So don't give up, that's what "they" want you to do.

      It's just that it's a slow process. From my perspective the privacy battle has barely begun; we're still placing the pieces on the board. Europe is already awake. The USA will take, as always, a bit longer.

      In some places its already getting easier to avoid surveillance, with new privacy protecting products (which I work on). It's like the ecological food mov

    • Re:

      Conversely, the amount of data collected is so great and vague, that you've little trouble blending into the noise.

      The best defence against governmental abuse of personal data is a well informed populace who votes against abuse and holds its government to account. With a significant number of Americans supporting a well established criminal and a party that wants to introduce a religious theocracy, is it any surprise that these kinds of things are accepted and even welcomed as just being "tough on crime"

  • Public spaces in the US have no expectation of privacy. What's the big deal? The cops are going to see hookers, dealers, johns, and customers?

    • Re:

      Mostly peaceful protesters don't want to be held accountable for setting trash cans, police cars and buildings on fire while they protest. That's all that jib jab is about.

      We are already tracked quite a bit. This will just add to the picture. Probably have satellites watching entire cities in 8k before you know it. Then police will just go to the time and place of the crime and work backwards/forwards through the feed until they find what they need.

      It's both amazing and terrifying at the same time. It could

      • Re:

        Driving crime to lows wouldn't be amazing. It will remove the only mechanism the poor and downtrodden have to keep the rich in line. Crime is itself a societal regulatory mechanism.
    • Re:

      Legalize and regulate both adult sex work and drug use... our bodies, our choices.
  • ... they don't publicize another use case...

    Police have been accessing internet-connected cameras for a long time, meaning this is not new. But it would be fair for Google, Waymo, etc. to admit they are recording the scene.

    Modern cars contain cameras for lane guidance and soon, a car won't work without an internet service: Thus, turning every vehicle into a surveillance device. Once navigation systems have voice-operated virtual assistants, like phones do (Apple Siri, Google Bixby), police will be able spy inside the car too.

  • So instead of sitting in patrol cars doing nothing, they can sit in a control room doing nothing.

    SF and NYC aren't cities to be in if you are expecting police to protect and serve.

    • To be fair, it's not the police that are wanting to be lazy, it's fee fees that the ones above them don't want to get hurt. So instead if settling on some middle ground, they hobble the police from being able to do their jobs.

    • Re:

      Those donuts dont eat themselves!

  • They can forego actual patrol cars while ignoring crimes and instead sit at surveillance consoles and ignore crimes.

  • So-called 'self driving cars' aren't, thankfully, even being put into general use yet, and the violation of peoples' civil rights is already taking place.
    All you SDC fanboys? This is just the beginning of the world you want to see happen. In your no-human-driving, autonomous-car world, where no human being has the ability or the right to actually control the vehicle they have no choice but to ride in, you'll literally be under a microscope every single moment, and so will everyone around you -- and you'll
  • To me surveillance is when cameras are actively watched for transgression, not when after transgression camera images are requested.

    Oh no, crimes are getting solved... the fucking humanity.

  • Better not misgender someone while being recorded by Big Brother. Nor disinform someone.

  • ED-209 v0.1b? In SF I can see that happening.

  • I've always thought having several hi-res cameras at each intersection is enough to track/trace/ID/target vehicles.

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