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Guest post by Martin Francisco Elizalde, Argentinian JD, LLM focused on security information.
Speed cameras have been used to monitor speed limits for a long time. Now, thanks to Artificial Intelligence technology, they can also find out if drivers use mobile while driving. Focusing its lens on the interior of the car, these new cameras can take photos not only of the driver but also of passengers sitting next to them in the front seat.
How do they work? They process images from every device by using artificial intelligence, which can identify if a driver is holding a mobile phone. In addition, they capture every vehicle license plate through a reader as well.
Moreover, they have been fixed everywhere. In the USA, for example, since March 1st, 2020, mobile phone detection cameras including fixed and transportable, have been targeting drivers illegally using a mobile phone anywhere, anytime. Thus, they operate day and night and in all weather conditions, using high-definition cameras to capture images of the front seat cabin space of vehicles to detect illegal mobile phone use. This so-called Mobile Phone Detection Camera Program allegedly has been successful in reducing illegal mobile phone use on roads.
In Buenos Aires, Argentina, the local authorities have introduced an A.I. camera network that was cheerfully hailed by governmental officials.
The Netherlands was the first European Community member that, by using an A.I. cameras network, started issuing fines to drivers when they use hand-held mobile phones behind the wheel.
However, these cameras have raised privacy violations and surveillance concerns as well. Thus, it has been alleged that photographing people in their cars “unreasonably intrudes into the personal affairs of the individual”, as passengers may consider the interior of their vehicle to be a private space.
Another issue, according to the same source, “is whether the public has been adequately notified that their personal information - including photos of their faces, traveling companions and number plates - is being collected by the cameras”.
In addition, Artificial Intelligence cameras are connected to the Internet and record footage remotely. This means that anyone can view A.l. camera footage anywhere as long as there is an Internet connection available. Besides, from the information security perspective, this is somewhat dangerous, for hackers who are always keen to intrude into government storage data.
Moreover, governmental data processors should be properly trained, before any action is taken, due to there are many documented instances of individual officers abusing police databases.
Furthermore, in the privacy policies related to this issue that should be enacted by Governments, it must be stated for how long the pictures are retained; which are the standard security and verification methods followed by processors; what is the disposal protocol. In other words: in which way photos would be checked, stored, used, deleted, and protected.
To sum up: “what is really required here is that communities and local law enforcement put in place very strict privacy policies in advance before ever adopting these kinds of systems”
As long as this is not fulfilled, governments are freely able to set up a camera network that records people’s comings and goings, and then make that data available for search by any of its law enforcement agencies without a balancing legal framework to check them. It seems quite disturbing, however, for their part, Governments defend the use of these controversial cameras on the grounds of road safety, research purposes, and law enforcement.
Sources & quoted authors
“Without you”, Lana del Rey. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7FG3uWvFjJs
European Commission, “Mobility & Transport - Road Safety” https://road-safety.transport.ec.europa.eu/eu-road-safety-policy/priorities/safe-road-use/archive/speeding_en
“Mobile phone detection cameras”, https://roadsafety.transport.nsw.gov.au/stayingsafe/mobilephones/technology.html
'World-first Big Brother Sydney traffic cameras capturing drivers' private information' spark privacy concerns”, By Jayne Azzopardi
“AI traffic cameras can catch drivers using mobile phones, even at 186mph!” By Rachael Sharpe, ttps://www.digitalcameraworld.com/news/ai-backed-traffic-cameras-can-catch-driver-using-a-mobile-phone-even-at-186mph
“Speed cameras – how they work” https://www.rac.co.uk/drive/advice/cameras/speed-cameras/
There is no inherent right to use government-owned roads. If you can be observed through a window of being a stupid, vapid, oblivious texter while driving, putting your and other people's lives in extreme danger, then oh well.