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3/11/2008
UK: Traffic Camera Data Dropped in Gutter
Hertfordshire, UK police drop a memory stick containing sensitive personal information on motorists.

Memory stickA UK police team using cameras to record the movements of motorists carelessly dropped a memory stick containing sensitive private information in Stevenage, Hertfordshire. On Wednesday, a passerby noticed the unmarked computer memory device lying in a gutter. The passerby checked the device on his computer and found that it carried 330 megabytes of unencrypted data files containing personal information on suspects.

"This is absolutely top secret information and it would have been disastrous had it fallen into the wrong hands," an anonymous "insider" told the Mirror newspaper.

The memory stick was used in the automated number plate recognition (ANPR) spy camera system fielded by Hertfordshire Constabulary. ANPR cameras record the license plates of all passing vehicles which allows a computer to track the movements of individual drivers whether or not they are suspected of any crime. A computer program also matches this license plate data against a list of suspects from a database. If a match is found, the computer instructs the officers to pull over and interrogate the passing vehicle's driver. ANPR devices are known to have a significant false positive rate.

In 2005, traffic camera vendor Affiliated Computer Services (ACS) abandoned a box of photo radar tickets on a park bench in Edmonton, Canada. The tickets contained sensitive personal information on 320 motorists.

Source: A police memory stick containing secret data is found in gutter (The Mirror (UK), 3/11/2008)

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