Category Archives: Technology

Right To Privacy and License Plate Photo Databases

Following up on yesterday’s post on the issue of privacy and face recognition technology, the Los Angeles Times has an interesting article on the burgeoning enterprise of photographing auto license plates.  There are thousands of cameras across the nation being used to take pictures of license plates with the sole purpose of being able to tell where you are, or have recently been. Law enforcement uses the resulting databases to locate stolen cars. Private companies such as Vigilant and Motorola will share the information in their databases with anyone willing to pay for the data. While some are worried about the right to privacy in particular, Vigilant is arguing it has a free speech right to take photographs in public.

There are growing concerns over possible abuses and people’s right to privacy expectations, especially when on private property.

As with face recognition, there is good and bad that can come from the use of these types of technology, what is needed is serious thought about what is and isn’t in the best interest of citizens and not just what business or government might find useful. And the time to be thinking about it is now, not as some are arguing, wait until we see if any problems actually arise.



Facial Recognition: Safety or Privacy

The New York Times weighs in today with an article on technology which focuses on facial recognition. Dr. Joseph J. Atick, a pioneer the emerging technology talks about the problems he sees regarding everyone’s right to privacy and his concerns about how the technology can be used and misused.

There are a lot of very intelligent people who are making incredible advances in all areas of modern technology. A troublesome aspect is the speed with new technology outpaces our ability to foresee possible unintended consequences of the latest inventions and advancements. To add to the problem is the natural fact that those who are developing these advances often don’t have the best motivation or interest in protecting society from possible problems their work might create.

Not one to champion government regulations, I still feel it is already late in the game to be thinking about what this can mean.

…what troubles him is the potential exploitation of face recognition to identify ordinary and unwitting citizens as they go about their lives in public. Online, we are all tracked. But to Dr. Atick, the street remains a haven, and he frets that he may have abetted a technology that could upend the social order.       The New York Times

Just stop and think about what private business will be able to do with this type of technology. And for many companies, if they can do it, you can bet they will. If their customer likes it or not many companies lack fundamental scruples and will do what they think they can get away with to make an extra buck. There are so many ways this technology can be used that will violate an individual’s right to privacy there needs to be a lot of thought given to the issue. And it needs to be done now by each and every citizen. We really can’t leave it up to private businesses to police themselves. It would be foolish to expect government to be out in front of an issue. So please do Think. Then Think Again. about facial recognition and the emerging technologies.

More on the issue from the Journal of High Technology Law.

Around The World From Paramount California, The Zamboni Ice Resurfacing Machine

Just another American success story about how far hard work and a little Thinking can take a person. This is the story of Frank Zamboni and his brother Lawrence and cousin Pete. For hockey fans the name Zamboni will probably be recognized for Frank invented the Zamboni Ice Resurfacing machine that is seen between periods at 25 National Hockey League arenas. Yesterday was the 65th anniversary of Frank’s filing for a patent for THE ZAMBONI. He built his first machines using Army surplus Jeep parts and that continued until 1965 when the HD series was the first to be produced not using surplus Jeep parts.

Moving to southern California from the family farm in Idaho, Frank and his brother opened an ice manufacturing plant in the 1930’s. Then as refrigeration started to lessen the demand for block ice, the brothers along with cousin Pete opened ICELAND, an ice skating  rink in Paramount. The development of the ice rink saw several setbacks as did the creation of the ice-resurfacing machine. But with Frank’s inventiveness the road blocks were mere bumps in the road to a lifetime of success.

By his death in 1988, Frank held 15 patents. Besides four patents for ice-resurfacing equipment he patented the “Vault Carrier” to lift and carry cement burial vaults, “The Grasshopper”, which rolls up artificial turf, “The Black Widow” which fills in dirt on top of cemetery vaults and  “Astro Zamboni” which vacuums water off of artificial turf.

Inventors have a history of never giving up, they Think, Then Think Again. Eventually getting it right. More than 10,000 Zambonis have been delivered to date and the ice-skating rink in Paramount California is nearing its 75th anniversary.

The people who made America great.

Here is a YouTube tribute to The Zamboni