Feeds

Congestion Charge offers online tool for ANPR cam dodgers

TfL actually friends to motor crime, civil liberties

Top 5 reasons to deploy VMware with Tegile

Transport for London has provided a handy tool for those who would like to use false numberplates to fool any of the various networks of automatic numberplate recognition (ANPR) cameras now deployed across much of the UK.

Using the capital's online congestion charge payment system, anyone can swiftly check what make and colour of vehicle is recorded in the UK's national DVLA database for any given registration number. No payment or identification is necessary.

This would obviously be a boon to those intending to false-flag a vehicle, as it would be possible to keep trying different registrations until one came across a record of the correct vehicle make and colour.

Say you have a black Porsche 911 GT2. Keep trying registrations here until you get one of those. (Starting with the right year will speed things up. So will the use of an automated bot. Just to be safe, prospective villains should also route via an anonymous proxy server, or hook up via someone else's Wi-Fi or an internet cafe or something.)

Then buy or make plates or overlays showing the number which gave the hit, and put them on your 530-horsepower pocket rocket. Now you can happily drive in and out of London without paying your soon-to-be £25 congestion charge; barrel past speed cameras as fast as you like; drive in bus lanes; park illegally; fill up at petrol stations and drive off without paying. The fine demands and summonses will all be sent to someone else.

If you get randomly numberplate-scanned by human traffic cops, or eyeballed by a CCTV operator, you should be OK as their system will indicate that you're in the right type of car for the plates.

Obviously, you don't need to use TfL. You could simply wander or drive around until you saw a car of the correct type, and copy its plates. But the online method is potentially a lot quicker and less troublesome, which is a factor. You really want to change your false plates fairly often, as the authorities will soon become aware that someone other than the registered user is using them. That's where the automated bot is a particularly handy idea.

Alternatively, of course, you might not be wanting to carry out a string of motoring offences. You might simply want to move about without creating a log of your travels in the various ANPR systems. Either method of harvesting plates would do for this purpose, TfL or manual. If the cops, spooks, or other minions of the state ever ran a search using your ordinary, legit plates, they would never find out about your ghost journeys.

The TfL online payment system would come in handy there, too, as you could pay the congestion charges resulting from any London trips. Then even the real owner of your false plates would be none the wiser. (Don't use your own credit card, though, eh.)

As of going to press, TfL hadn't yet commented on this aspect of the Congestion Charging system. But they promised to get back to us ASAP - we'll keep you posted.®

Bootnote

Thanks to Reg reader Eric for the headsup - though we really should have thought of it ourselves. Cheers also to the readers who point out that you can do the same with some insurance company and motor-trade websites.

Intelligent flash storage arrays

More from The Register

next story
The 'fun-nification' of computer education – good idea?
Compulsory code schools, luvvies love it, but what about Maths and Physics?
Ex-US Navy fighter pilot MIT prof: Drones beat humans - I should know
'Missy' Cummings on UAVs, smartcars and dying from boredom
Facebook, Apple: LADIES! Why not FREEZE your EGGS? It's on the company!
No biological clockwatching when you work in Silicon Valley
Happiness economics is bollocks. Oh, UK.gov just adopted it? Er ...
Opportunity doesn't knock; it costs us instead
'Cowardly, venomous trolls' threatened with TWO-YEAR sentences for menacing posts
UK government: 'Taking a stand against a baying cyber-mob'
Sysadmin with EBOLA? Gartner's issued advice to debug your biz
Start hoarding cleaning supplies, analyst firm says, and assume your team will scatter
Doctor Who's Flatline: Cool monsters, yes, but utterly limp subplots
We know what the Doctor does, stop going on about it already
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Cloud and hybrid-cloud data protection for VMware
Learn how quick and easy it is to configure backups and perform restores for VMware environments.
Three 1TB solid state scorchers up for grabs
Big SSDs can be expensive but think big and think free because you could be the lucky winner of one of three 1TB Samsung SSD 840 EVO drives that we’re giving away worth over £300 apiece.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.