Disrupting a secret mass surveillance network around the US has become the mission of one group of artists. The network of cameras controlled by corporations and government agencies photograph the license plate of every car that drives by and translates that into machine-readable text. This data is saved, stored and compiled into profiles of the movements of every car on the road.  By strategically placing small stickers on license plates, the artists can prevent accurate detection by the technology and disrupt the entire system.

The group has approximated the surveillance technology being used to track people, and set about testing different configurations to throw off the system. To change an E to an F for instance they have found applying what appears to the human eye as a splash of mud is effective at registering the wrong letter by the technology but essentially invisible to the human eye.

The technology does not expect to be deceived so they have actually found the process quite easy.  “It’s kind of like captcha” the system many are familiar with, that determines whether or not you are a real person.

There are a number of products on the market today that are designed to foil traffic cameras, usually by relying on the flash used by many of these types of technology, but these artists are targeting even more ubiquitous cameras that are reading the license plates of every single car that passes.



Photo: “Nineteeneightyfour….in Manchester” by Mikey  is licensed under CC BY 2.0

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