You probably don’t know much about Vigilant Systems, but the company likely knows more about you than you know about them. That because Vigilant Systems is in the business of knowing. The company has so far collected about 2.8 billion license plate photos with its network of cameras, and every month it adds another 70-80 million photos, including a timestamp of the photo and geographic location of the plate, to Vigilant Solutions’ permanent storage. They sell that data to police departments and, depending on the jurisdiction, even some private sector institutions, such as insurance companies investigating fraud.
Vigilant Solutions’ deals with government agencies have raised concerns about civil liberties, freedom of movement, privacy and mass surveillance. As Conor Friedersdorf at The Atlantic describes Vigilant Solutions, “your diminished privacy is their product.” Read More >
A Chicago Tribune investigation has uncovered that the city’s speed cameras have nabbed school bus drivers, police, public employees and city bus drivers more than 8,000 times over the past two years.
In most cases the tickets were passed on to the drivers, but in some cases — bus drivers and police driving unmarked cars who could justify speeding — those fines were either paid by the Chicago Transit Authority or waived altogether.
The Chicago Tribune’s fine, fine, fine reporting work uncovered 714 bus violations and more than 2,000 police tickets in two years. Read More >
The companies didn’t specify details about the transaction, and said they would announce more about their purchase on Monday. In August, the companies announced they were purchasing the mapmaking business, which provides cloud-based maps and data for more than 200 countries, to further develop “swarm technology” that could allow cars to communicate with each other.
Police say a photographer with the Reno Gazette-Journal on Oct. 9 trespassed at Tesla’s battery factory in Nevada and struck security guards there with a car.
According to Storey County Chief Deputy Melanie Keener, the photographer, Jose Andrews Barron, was charged with misdemeanor trespassing and two counts of felony battery. He was taken to Storey County Jail and held in lieu of $30,000 bail. It’s unclear if Barron is still at the jail.
In a post on its corporate blog, Tesla said Barron and another newspaper employee climbed over a fence and took pictures of the battery factory. When approached, Barron and the other employee jumped into a car with Reno Gazette-Journal stickers. Barron struck a security guard on his way out and hit another security manager on an ATV. According to the newspaper, the driver’s side window was smashed and a seatbelt was cut in half. Read More >
Hackers say they may be able to control any vehicle with a telematics-enabled sensor — including a popular sensor that insurance companies use for consumers — plugged into the car’s diagnostic port, according to Wired report (via The Verge).
In recent weeks, several hacks have surfaced — Chrysler, General Motors and Telsa — related to specific automakers. According to the report, the On-Board Diagnostic system hack could apply to any make or model fitted with an insurance or tracking dongle. The University of California San Diego researchers say they’ll present their findings at the Usenix conference Tuesday.
And, um, there’s no easy way to put this, but … it doesn’t appear that it would be all that hard to find cars with the dongles at the moment.
Hacker Samy Kamkar says his $100 device can seriously annoy — or seriously rob — a GM car owner if he wanted it to. GM promptly responded by saying it fixed the flaw in a way that owners won’t have update their cars.
Kamkar said his exploit wasn’t mean to cause mayhem, but rather to show how modern, technological cars can be vulnerable to hackers.