Red Light Cameras

From the WaPo comes more red light camera nonsense:

Mats Järlström is, by all accounts, an engineer. He graduated from engineering school in Sweden, served as an airplane-camera mechanic in the Swedish Air Force and worked in research and development at an electronics manufacturer. For the past 20 years, he has earned a living designing and repairing audio equipment.

He is not, however, a “licensed professional” in the state of Oregon, where he put down roots in the early 1990s. So when Järlström did his own study of the timing mechanisms in the state’s red-light cameras and found them flawed, Oregon officials hit him with a $500 fine for “unlicensed practice of engineering.”

Järlström was inspired by the $150 ticket his wife got in the mail in May after driving through an intersection with a red-light camera in Beaverton, Ore. His research showed that the mathematical formula used in the timing of yellow lights was outdated and unfair to drivers.

When he presented his findings to state officials and local media, the Oregon State Board of Examiners for Engineering and Land Surveying tried to silence him. A nearly two-year investigation by the board found he had violated a state law that says only state-licensed engineers can speak publicly about technical matters. Järlström, in turn, filed a federal lawsuit alleging violations of his First Amendment rights.

This week, more than four years after his wife’s ticket, Järlström got some long-awaited relief. On Monday, Oregon’s attorney general conceded that the engineering board had trampled on his free speech rights, the Oregonian reported

…“Anyone should be able to talk about the traffic signals if they’re too long or too short or anything without being penalized,” Järlström said in an Institute for Justice video earlier this year.

Oregon bought into red light cameras last year at the state level. In additition to ticketing for running red lights, sensors were installed under the pavement at designated locations to capture the rate of speed a car is traveling when it runs a red light.

Baked into the Oregon law is how to protest if “someone else” was running a red light in your car.

And of course there are multiple site showing locations and types of traps. 1

Red Light Cameras

Show 1 footnote

  1. And this in a state where I swear the Thor I’ve witnessed drivers slowing down for a mild bend on the interstate. True fact – I’ve never once seen an Oregonian speed. Not once. In fact the typicl Oregon driver will error on the side of slowness, generally cruising 5 miles slower than wjatever limit is posted. It’s just the most bizarre thing…

Surveillance Society

“Regular people, not just impersonal, commercially motivated merchants or advertising networks, can exploit the online advertising ecosystem to extract private information about other people, such as people that they know or that live nearby,” reads the study, titled “Using Ad Targeting for Surveillance on a Budget.” 1

The University of Washington researchers didn’t exploit a bug or loophole in mobile advertising networks so much as reimagine the motivation and resources of an ad buyer to show how those networks’ intentional tracking features allow relatively cheap, highly targeted spying…

…”If you want to make the point that advertising networks should be more concerned with privacy, the bogeyman you usually pull out is that big corporations know so much about you. But people don’t really care about that,” says University of Washington researcher Paul Vines. “But the potential person using this information isn’t some large corporation motivated by profits and constrained by potential lawsuits. It can be a person with relatively small amounts of money and very different motives.” 2

Surveillance Society

Show 2 footnotes

  1. The full paper is here.
  2. One thing that makes people put up with Apple’s closed system devices is their commitment to ‘differential privacy’; collecting data from the group, not the individual, as it were – see paper here. It appears we need more of that — not to mention a ton more usage of ad/script blockers by the masses.

Like, Dude!

Jebus H Ke-rist on a Fucking Pogo Stick.

In June, the Fourth Circuit ruled in favor of an employee who objected to having his hand scanned because he said it would brand him with the Mark of the Beast.

The EEOC sued on the employee’s behalf, saying he was entitled to a reasonable accommodation for his belief that the scanning would mark him as a follower of the Antichrist. The employer refused to let him just enter his ID number on a keypad (which apparently doesn’t present the same concern), and actually gave him a letter saying that under its interpretation of Scripture, it would be okay if he scanned his left hand and not his right.

He quit instead. The Fourth Circuit said there was no dispute the employee’s belief was sincere, and no reason not to accommodate it.

What is it with the fucking religious zealots? You don’t ever see any of us Dudeists throwing a tizzy over superstitious bullshit.

Like, dude, the Mark of the Beast is not the issue here!

Like, Dude!

Surveillance Society: Aadhaar

In 2009, with little attention from abroad, the government of India launched a new identification program that has gone on to become the largest biometric database in the world. The program, known as Aadhaar, has collected the names, addresses, phone numbers—and perhaps more significantly, fingerprints, photographs, and iris scans—of more than 1 billion people. In the process, Aadhaar has taken on a role in virtually all parts of day-to-day life in India, from schools to hospitals to banks, and has opened up pathways to a kind of large-scale data collection that has never existed before.

The Indian government views Aadhaar as a key solution for a myriad number of societal challenges, but critics see it as a step toward a surveillance state. Now, the Aadhaar experiment faces a significant threat from the Indian Supreme Court—one that may prove to be existential.

In late August, the Supreme Court issued a unanimous decision that found, for the first time, a fundamental right to privacy in the Indian Constitution. The decision has been widely celebrated by Aadhaar’s opponents, who believe that the program is in conflict with the newly enshrined right. Soon, the Supreme Court will direct its attention to this very issue, and if they find that Aadhaar violates privacy rights, it will be up to lawmakers to rethink the entire program. But if the Supreme Court rules that the program is constitutional, then Aadhaar, already staggering in scope and ambition, will continue to grow.

Surveillance Society: Aadhaar

The PWNIE Awards

The annual Pwnie Awards for serious security screw-ups saw hardly anyone collecting their prize at this year’s ceremony in Las Vegas.

That’s not surprising: government officials, US spy agencies, and software makers aren’t usually in the mood to acknowledge their failures.

The Pwnies give spray-painted pony statues to those who have either pulled off a great hack or failed epically. This year it was nation states that got a significant proportion of the prizes. The gongs are divided into categories, and nominations in each section are voted on by the hacker community. The ponies are then dished out every year at the Black Hat USA security conference in Sin City.

The award for best server-side bug went to the NSA’s Equation Group, whose Windows SMB exploits were stolen and leaked online this year by the Shadow Brokers. The tools attack three stunning vulnerabilities (CVE-2017-0143, 0144, 0145), and were later used by malware including WannaCrypt to wreck systems across the globe, forcing Microsoft to issue patches for out-of-date operating systems to fight the outbreak

While Uncle Sam’s snoops didn’t pick up their award, neither did other governments. The epic 0wnage award was split between North Korea and Russia for launching the WannaCry ransomware contagion and masterminding the Shadow Brokers, respectively.

Meanwhile, Australian prime minister Malcom Turnbull earned an award for the most epic fail for insisting the laws of Australia trump the laws of mathematics. The Aussie leader was told it’s not possible to backdoor encryption for counterterrorism snoops without ruining the crypto for everyone else, and was having none of it.

…All of this year’s nominations are here, and the results will be published on the awards website a little later.

The PWNIE Awards