Daily Archives: 2020-07-17

CBP does end run around warrants, simply buys license plate-reader data

Source: Ars Technica

Article note: Hello end game of the third party doctrine: Gleichschaltung. We can curtail it a little bit by enforcing that this kind of end-run can't be legally admissible, but that neither does anything about parallel-construction bullshit nor the more fundamental problem of the gigantic parasites collecting, siloing, and selling access to the data for anyone to abuse. ...or we can at least change liability laws so that data silo firms are liable for the misuse of their data hordes, to make it prohibitively expensive to be an asshole.
The trunk of a black sedan is dotted with electronic devices.

Enlarge / A worker for repo firm Relentless Recovery in Cleveland, Ohio, backs a car equipped with automated license plate recognition cameras out of the garage before going out to scan for cars that need to be repossessed on April 30, 2018. (credit: Dustin Franz | The Washington Post | Getty Images)

US Customs and Border Protection can track everyone's cars all over the country thanks to massive troves of automated license plate scanner data, a new report reveals—and CBP didn't need to get a single warrant to do it. Instead, the agency did just what hundreds of other businesses and investigators do: straight-up purchase access to commercial databases.

CBP has been buying access to commercial automated license plate-reader (ALPR) databases since 2017, TechCrunch reports, and the agency says bluntly that there's no real way for any American to avoid having their movements tracked.

"CBP cannot provide timely notice of license plate reads obtained from various sources outside of its control," the agency wrote in its most recent privacy assessment (PDF). "The only way to opt out of such surveillance is to avoid the impacted area, which may pose significant hardships and be generally unrealistic."

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The Mother(board) of All CNC Controllers

Source: Hack a Day

Article note: That's pretty nicely executed, I like their modular spindle solutions. I knew there were some ARM forks or grbl, I hadn't seen the ESP32 one; two relatively fast cores with lots of flexible IO make that potentially very compelling. I've had a couple both STM32 (Mostly using it as a $2 SPI to USB bridge that can do some processing) and ESP32 (Wifi-Modem, trying out MicroPython) projects this summer, the amount of compute-per-dollar in the 32bit micros now is absurd.

If you’re building a CNC machine from scratch, the number of decisions you have to make is nearly boundless. Metal or wood construction? Welded or bolted? Timing belts or lead screws? And even once the mechanical bits are sorted, you still face a universe of choices in terms of control electronics. That’s where something like this modular CNC controller could really prove to be a game-changer.

The idea behind [Barton Dring]’s latest creation started with his port of GRBL to the ESP32. In fact, the current controller bears a strong family resemblance to his version 1.0 dev board, with a few conspicuous and intriguing additions. First, everything is modular — the main PCB is basically a motherboard with little more than a 5-volt power supply and some housekeeping electronics, plus a lot of headers. There’s support for up to six channels of steppers, either directly on the board with Pololu-style modules or as external drivers using pluggable screw terminal blocks. There’s also room for five IO modules; the current collection of modules includes a four-channel switch input, a relay output, an RS-485 module and a 0-10-V interface for talking to a variable frequency drive (VFD) spindle controllers, and buffered 5-V output module. The best part is that the IO module spec is completely open, so designing custom modules should be a snap.

The video below gives a quick tour of the controller. We’re really impressed with the thought that went into this, and we’ll venture a guess that having something like this available is going to kickstart a lot of stalled CNC machine projects. We can think of one shop that finally lost its last excuse for making the move.

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