Last week, the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) released a report stating that cameras from over 100 automated license plate readers have been streaming live footage over the Web. And these images are available to anyone with access to the Internet.
The EFF discovered the threat earlier this year and has been working on a solution. Officials in Louisiana, Florida and California have been assisting the EFF in its efforts, and have moved to secure the cameras. However, further investigation uncovered several additional cameras that were vulnerable to footage leaks in other states.
Primarily, the systems causing this issue are networks of cameras that capture images of cars as they pass by. The system then collects and records data on each vehicle's license plate, tracking the driver's movements and passing the data along to officials, who monitor traffic for stolen vehicles and suspicious activity.
You might pass these cameras without even knowing it. Although these cameras are sometimes mounted on patrol cars, they're often mounted on stationary objects you drive past every day. Bridges, signs and streetlights may house these cameras. Some cities have even considered mounting license plate readers on garbage trucks.
Do these cameras protect you, or put you at risk? Previous research shows that collecting this data doesn't actually help to catch many criminals.
It's true that in certain instances the data has been used to track fugitives and monitor gang activity, however, it's rarely pertinent to any particular crime. And officials have been known to use the data for other purposes, such as collecting taxes.
How do you feel about it? With the recent footage leaks, do you feel these cameras are putting you at risk?