Tuesday, September 17, 2019

"DRN is a private surveillance system crowdsourced by hundreds of repo men who have installed cameras that passively scan, capture, and upload the license plates of every car they drive by to DRN's database"

Motherboard:

What DRN has built is a nationwide, persistent surveillance database that can potentially track the movements of car owners over long periods of time. In doing so, highly sensitive information about car owners can be made available to anyone who has access to the tool.

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The table of results shows the most recent or popular sighting at the top, and clicking an option called "Map It" at the top of the tool's control panel plots the location data onto a map for easier viewing. Users can create a PDF of their search results, which includes the map with all of the selected results, as well as the addresses of where the vehicle was spotted each time.

DRN charges $20 to look up a license plate, or $70 for a "live alert", according to the contract. With a live alert, a user can enter a license plate they wish to receive updates on; when the DRN system spots the vehicle, it'll send an email to the user with the newly discovered location.

"DRN takes data security seriously," DRN told Motherboard in a statement.

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As repo men drive around the country in unmarked cars, they have a set of DRN cameras installed on their vehicle, scanning the plate of every car it sees. A four camera kit costs $15,000, according to DRN's website. This tech not only alerts the driver if they pass a vehicle that has been marked for repossession by querying DRN's database, but also constantly photographs any cars it passes and adds those photos to the database itself. DRN has more than 600 of these "affiliates" collecting data, according to the contract. These affiliates are paid a monthly bonus for gathering the data.