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Aussie Speed Cameras in Doubt Because of MD5 1004

Posted by timothy
from the son-do-I-know-how-fast-you-were-going? dept.
An anonymous reader writes "A speeding case has been thrown out in Australia after the Roads and Traffic Authority admitted that it could not prove the integrity of speed-camera photos. 'The case revolved around the integrity of a mathematical MD5 algorithm published on each picture and used as a security measure to prove pictures have not been doctored after they have been taken.'" I wonder if Australian police are as (radar gun) trigger happy as they are in certain parts of the U.S.
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Aussie Speed Cameras in Doubt Because of MD5

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  • Fun.. (Score:2, Interesting)

    by sisko (114628)
    This will make for a nice backlog in the courts. Although an interesting defence none the less. :-)
  • Good luck... (Score:2, Interesting)

    by dal20402 (895630) *
    ...have you been to a traffic court lately?

    American traffic magistrates (at least in WA) would not even understand what an "algorithm" is. They will just see another glib speeder trying to scam the county out of $162.

    (Warning for visitors: WA has one of the most zealous state highway patrol forces in the nation. Just don't exceed 10 over the limit here.)

    • Re:Good luck... (Score:4, Interesting)

      by jbrader (697703) <stillnotpynchon@gmail.com> on Thursday August 11, 2005 @02:52AM (#13292328)
      I have a pysics teacher (also in WA) that drives as fast as he wants. Then when he goes to court for the speeding tickets he dazzles the judge with science and calculus until the ticket gets dropped.
      • Re:Good luck... (Score:4, Insightful)

        by Shanep (68243) on Thursday August 11, 2005 @03:20AM (#13292437) Homepage
        I have a pysics teacher (also in WA) that drives as fast as he wants. Then when he goes to court for the speeding tickets he dazzles the judge with science and calculus until the ticket gets dropped.

        Well then, if "as fast as he wants" means "much faster than the law allows", then I hope physics brings him some swift justice before he kills some innocent person who is not a complete ass.
        • Re:Good luck... (Score:4, Interesting)

          by karmatic (776420) on Thursday August 11, 2005 @03:31AM (#13292480)
          The Speed Limit is designed to be a universally safe speed. This includes a half-blind old person driving a poorly maintained SUV during heavy traffic. It is not an actual "limit" on the safest speed. If some guy is out in the boonies, with nothing but empty fields to hit, the fact that he's going 30 over the speed limit doesn't really mean much.

          Also, on a well-maintained highway, at a time when there is little or no other traffic, with a good driver and a well maintained vehicle, the fact that a person is driving 85 in a 55 does not necessarily mean that he is presenting an unreasonable risk to himself or others.
          • Let me guess, you belong to the 85% of all people who are better than average drivers?

          • Re:Good luck... (Score:5, Insightful)

            by tbigby (902188) on Thursday August 11, 2005 @04:21AM (#13292665)
            Until he/she has a tyre blowout, or comes across an unexpected pothole in the road, or has to swerve to avoid a rabbit running across the road... at which point that extra 30mph or 50kmph could make a huge difference to the ensuing damage to the person and other people, not to mention their car. Those are things that can happen to anyone, no matter how good a driver they are.
            • Re:Good luck... (Score:5, Insightful)

              by Shanep (68243) on Thursday August 11, 2005 @05:02AM (#13292802) Homepage
              Until he/she has a tyre blowout, or comes across an unexpected pothole in the road, or has to swerve to avoid a rabbit running across the road... at which point that extra 30mph or 50kmph could make a huge difference to the ensuing damage to the person and other people, not to mention their car. Those are things that can happen to anyone, no matter how good a driver they are.

              Yes, that reminds me of something I witnessed about 25 years ago when I was a child. On a freeway a car flew past us at high speed, minutes later we drove past to see it, upside down, with a front type blown open and bloody bodies on the ground around it. I'll never forget that.

              The World is full of people who are "better than average" in their own minds. Especially young people who think they are the next F1 champion. A while ago on TV in Australia, a current affairs type program got a bunch of hoons together to do a high performance driver training and testing. They all failed because they ALL went out too hard with something to prove. The funniest thing, was that the old guy training them, drove their own hotted up cars around the course much better and faster than the owners did.
              • by kyojin the clown (842642) on Thursday August 11, 2005 @06:14AM (#13293045)
                incrediable. you say an 'old guy' who trained racing drivers is a better driver than his trainees? what next? teachers knowing more than their pupils? i'm flabbergasted.
                • Re:Good luck... (Score:4, Interesting)

                  by Shanep (68243) on Thursday August 11, 2005 @06:46AM (#13293155) Homepage
                  incrediable. you say an 'old guy' who trained racing drivers is a better driver than his trainees? what next? teachers knowing more than their pupils? i'm flabbergasted.

                  The point was that he was driving THEIR cars better than they were and showing that they were nowhere near as good as they thought they were. You can't keep a car driving near its limits if you don't know the car well. Yet this old guy drove their cars much better than they did. They didn't respect this guy at first because he was old and saddly after proving these young idiots wrong, they were still fast talking and making excuses.

                  Of course I expect the old driving instructor to be much better than them. What was funny was that this old guy who the young hoons would not identify with as being a fast driver, handed them their asses in their own boy racer cars. As far as old racing drivers go, the instructor did not look the part either. Imagine you're an 18yo with some crazy hotted up 600kW Supra and your grandfather, who normally drives the speed limit in his Volvo, shows you how to drive it hard.

                  These hoons were humiliated. The point of the show was a challenge to the hoons to prove that they were good enough drivers to speed. They all failed.
                  • Re:Good luck... (Score:5, Insightful)

                    by TapeCutter (624760) on Thursday August 11, 2005 @07:52AM (#13293354) Journal
                    Disclaimer I rarely watch "current affairs" on the commercial channels as I think most of it is crap. But I did see part of the story you mentioned...

                    "These hoons were humiliated. The point of the show was a challenge to the hoons to prove that they were good enough drivers to speed. They all failed."

                    Dead on, but even after all that some of them still could not see a problem with thier own speeding. They were male and had the "indestructable" attitude (I suffered the same syndrome 25 yrs ago and have the scars to prove it).

                    Off course we have vast highways over here where you can see a Camel 2km up the road, no traffic, no cops, no bends. Speeding is not a problem in the middle of nowhere, falling asleep and road-trains will kill you.

                    Speed limits are made so that the AVERAGE driver can make a stupid mistake once in a while and live to be honked at and humiliated. If EVERY driver is driving near thier skill limit then NOBODY can make a mistake, ever!
            • Re:Good luck... (Score:5, Insightful)

              by TFGeditor (737839) on Thursday August 11, 2005 @07:38AM (#13293307) Homepage
              Why anybody would swerve and risk their own life and the lives of others to avoid hitting a rabbit, squirrel, cat, et al is beyond rational comprehension.
            • by rcamera (517595) on Thursday August 11, 2005 @08:16AM (#13293468) Homepage
              interesting idea - swerving to AVOID a rabbit. i usually CHASE the rabbit (or deer, or racoon)... it's the closest activity to a sport that i perform.
    • Re:Good luck... (Score:3, Interesting)

      by zakezuke (229119)
      (Warning for visitors: WA has one of the most zealous state highway patrol forces in the nation. Just don't exceed 10 over the limit here.)

      Hmmm, i've gotten very few traffic tickets in my life in washington... and there are areas that I make damn sure to speed +10mph over and +20mph over.

      the first time I got a ticket was when I was younger and going really +85 in a 55, and got a ticket for going 10 over. I didn't argue that one. I got another ticket for going 10 over in a small town.... it was inbetween a
    • by Kymermosst (33885) on Thursday August 11, 2005 @03:14AM (#13292412) Journal
      Warning for visitors: WA has one of the most zealous state highway patrol forces in the nation. Just don't exceed 10 over the limit here.

      WARNING! Police in Washington enforce laws!
      • Re:Good luck... (Score:3, Insightful)

        by karmatic (776420)
        If the laws being enforced are themselves unreasonable, a warning is not out of order. Just because something is "the law" does not mean it's reasonable or prudent.
      • Correction... (Score:5, Insightful)

        by mrRay720 (874710) on Thursday August 11, 2005 @04:12AM (#13292635)
        WARNING! Police in Washington enforce laws... that generate a revenue stream!

        Personally I have no problem with Police enforcing laws, it's just when they go for the easy, (relatively) harmless, money-grabbing ones to the detriment of rapes, murders, assault, criminal damage, etc. that I have a problem.

        Yeah, the problem is pretty bad where I live, too. Cops whoring themselves out for speeding fines when more serious crimes go reported and with no police response for hours or days.

        F*** them.
        • Re:Correction... (Score:3, Insightful)

          by skiflyer (716312)
          Personally I have no problem with Police enforcing laws, it's just when they go for the easy, (relatively) harmless, money-grabbing ones to the detriment of rapes, murders, assault, criminal damage, etc. that I have a problem.

          Ok now, I hate traffic tickets as much as the next person, and think the way they're enforced is often all about revenue... but I would take issue with the claim that it's to the detriment of stopping other crimes... in fact, in alot of cities, one of the first things they do when
          • Re:Correction... (Score:4, Interesting)

            by maxpublic (450413) on Thursday August 11, 2005 @08:29AM (#13293537) Homepage
            This is hardly comforting when someone is trying to break into your home and the police are "too busy" to respond to your 911 call...and yet they always seem to have an overabundance of traffic cops eagerly cracking down on those nasty speeders.

            I don't, and have never, lived in what you'd call a 'bad' neighborhood. And yet on three separate occasions, at three separate homes (one I was housesitting for a friend), I had some incredibly stupid burglars attempt to break in while I was home, and up, and the lights were on. On all three occasions I called 911 while the attempted break-in was in progress; two times the cops failed to respond because all available units were busy doing something else (what? cracking down on noise complaints? eating donuts?), and the third time they showed up TWO HOURS after the call. In all of these cases I ended up running off the crooks myself (once with hilarious results, when I scared the crap out of a would-be burglar and he charged straight into a woodpile).

            Incidents like these tend to make me irritable. I can't get a cop when a break-in is happening right then and there, but the city seems to have plenty of money to pay for cops who...bust speeders. Yeah, got their priorities real straight, they do.

            Perhaps I'd be somewhat mollified if the traffic cops went around handing out tickets to aging Boomers who drive their minivans/SUVs like they were tanks, or to those fucking idiots who talk on their cell phones while weaving back and forth across lanes/blasting through stop signs/etc., but these people seem to get a free pass....

            Max
            • by surprise_audit (575743) on Thursday August 11, 2005 @10:12AM (#13294235)
              On all three occasions I called 911 while the attempted break-in was in progress

              If there's no response, just call them back and tell them not to bother because you've just shot the burglar. Bet you a box of donuts there'll be cops screeching to a halt outside your house within five minutes...

        • Re:Correction... (Score:5, Interesting)

          by NormalVisual (565491) on Thursday August 11, 2005 @05:17AM (#13292855)
          Bingo - it annoys the hell out of me that a Pakistani friend of mine was shot at on the highway shortly after 9/11, with bullets passing within inches of his 4-year old daughter and causing a fair bit of damage to his car, but the Orange County Sheriff's Office (FL) could not/would not bring the assailant to justice even though my friend was able to provide them with a plate number and they were able to determine that the vehicle was registered to a local business, and wasn't stolen. They sure can write up those speeding tickets for people going safely with the flow of traffic though, and the sheriff just got a budget increase so he could hire more officers, which brings his total to $153 million for a county of barely a million people. If I still lived in Orange County, I certainly wouldn't feel like I got $150 worth of police protection per year, especially when they can't seem to get attempted murderers off the street after being handed all the information they need.

          It probably wouldn't bother me so much if they would take those officers running speed traps and put them someplace genuinely useful, like busy intersections where people die all the time because asshats are always running the stop lights.
  • by putko (753330)
    Isn't the way you are supposed to do this is that the camera signs the picture with its secret key? Or it signs the MD5 hash of the picture with its secret key?

    I don't get why you'd just use MD5 -- then you'd doctor the photo and recompute the MD5 hash.
    • Re:Why MD5 (Score:5, Insightful)

      by tonsofpcs (687961) <`moc.scpfosnot' `ta' `kcabhsals'> on Thursday August 11, 2005 @02:42AM (#13292278) Homepage Journal
      I think that is the point of the article. They take the picture, write it and a MD5 hash, then try saying that it is official because it has a matching MD5 hash. I can make any picture with a matching MD5 hash. Even this post can have a matching MD5 hash, does the MD5 hash prove that I wrote it?
      • Some info (Score:5, Insightful)

        by 3l1za (770108) on Thursday August 11, 2005 @03:41AM (#13292519)
        My reading of the scant info on this case is that the villain being fingered is the MD5 algorithm, not the overall protocol which used that algo.

        Let's assume this is the protocol:
        1. camera takes snap shot, uses signing key on tamper-resistant chip inside camera to sign a hash of that photo (with the time, speed, etc. concatenated onto the end of the photo before hashing)
        2. send bill to speeder (possibly including hash of picture or in some way "committing" to that particular md5sum)
        Then, the problem the bad guy has is to find another picture with that same hash value. This is a preimage attack [find another photo that outputs this hash value] and the weaknesses in MD5 were collision weaknesses: particular collisions found and an algorithm for generating collisions. But collisions are just two messages that have the same hash value, not a particular hash value of your choosing.

        If the protocol doesn't have a way to securely associate a hash with a photo (e.g. doesn't sign it), then it doesn't make a difference if you're using MD5 or SHA-1 or SHA-256, the cops can still just doctor photos at will and only produce the hashes of the doctored photos. So this line of "attack" has nothing to do with underlying cryptographic weaknesses.

        [Note also that the weaknesses in MD5 don't affect the security of HMAC-MD5]. Hell, the case should be thrown out since the defense atty had the temerity to issue this stunning (even in buzz-word-addled tech) mischaracterization:
        "People have shown it [the algorithm] has been hacked and it's open to viruses."
        http://www.smh.com.au/news/national/motorist-wins- case-after-maths-whizzes-break-speed-camera-code/2 005/08/10/1123353388395.html?oneclick=true [smh.com.au]

    • Re:Why MD5 (Score:3, Informative)

      by stuuf (587464)
      Exactly. MD5 alone can't prove "integrity" in the context of security or privacy. It's usually used to ensure that information wasn't accidentally changed or corrupted during a communication error. If someone can modify an image, he can easily find the MD5 hash and update it to reflect the new image. If you need to make sure that your data hasn't been intentionally tampered with, you have to encrypt the hash using a digital signature mechanism. Using simple MD5 works to detect when your transmission or stor
  • Don't speed (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 11, 2005 @02:33AM (#13292247)
    and you don't get caught...
  • loophole? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by ciscoguy01 (635963) on Thursday August 11, 2005 @02:33AM (#13292250)
    That sounds like a loophole. However I am not in favor of automated law enforcement, I like to face my accuser.

    Many of those red light tickets were dismissed in the US for various reasons, some technical, some through loopholes, and some through plain old dishonesty in the ticket system operator. They had lowered the yellow light timing below legal standards to make more money. Outrageous if you ask me.

    Law enforcement is supposed to be run by government employees, who have no axe to grind and nothing to gain by dishonesty. I like it like that.
    • by ari_j (90255) on Thursday August 11, 2005 @03:13AM (#13292406)
      Demand to face your accuser in court. If a police officer takes the stand, tell the judge to strike everything he says as hearsay and repeat your request that you face your accuser. If they do bring the camera in, accuse it of being uncooperative by not answering your questions, and ask the judge to jail it for contempt.
    • Re:loophole? (Score:3, Interesting)

      by jd (1658)
      Problem with the US is that nobody wants to pay taxes. ANY taxes. Cops ain't free, neither are cop cars, neither are speed detectors that can't be spotted by over-the-counter electronics.

      This is a catch-22. Nobody wants to be killed by a speeder, but nobody wants to pay to stop that from happening. The closest to a solution to this that the police departments have is to use cameras - they're cheap enough that they can afford them.

      And when the police ARE funded to semi-reasonable levels, they get complaints

      • Re:loophole? (Score:5, Insightful)

        by aaronl (43811) on Thursday August 11, 2005 @07:33AM (#13293294) Homepage
        Well, that's likely backlash from having over 50% of your income taken by the government. That's what it adds up to when you total all the taxes, registrations, license fees, regulatory fees, etc. Since that is already unacceptably high, demanding more money is outright ludicrous.

        You fix is "make the Federal huge huge huge", when the fix really is "slash the Federal, reduce overall costs", now the States and local government can get more revenue without the Federal taking it all. The Federal screwed up education, proved that social programs don't work (at least not at the Federal level), made the tax situation horrible, and a lot more.

        It's very cute that you think it's proper to take money from the military to give it to social services and police. That will not only not work, but they don't have much to do with each other. They're handled on different levels of government, as they should be, and as they are supposed to be according to the Constitution.

        Social services *should* be done on a more reasonable level of government, so that you aren't forced, against your will, to pay for them. Like the way it was done *before* FDR, when we weren't running trillions of dollars in Federal debt.

        Also, the Federal don't do police. They have agencies of dubious value that are kind of similar to police, but aren't. Police are mostly a local government thing. If the Federal didn't take nearly all the money and then use it to control local government, this wouldn't be a problem. Additionally, police don't like doing speed traps; it sucks as a job. Of course, they don't set the speed limits - the municipality or State does - so they don't get to decide to set reasonable speeds. That fancy assed radar/laser gun isn't on the "desired new toy" list for most of them, either. They often prefer the older one because when your radar detector goes off, *you slow down*.

        Education is local government, too. Once the Federal got involved it went to hell. Did you ever notice how the majority of school funding comes straight from local revenue into local government? That's because the Federal doesn't do it.

        Emergency services are local/state government, with the exception of Federal agencies like FEMA. Most of the cost is not Federal, however. There is also some at the State level.

        Science should properly be done outside the government. However, this is the first thing you mention that might be justifiable as something to be more heavily funded. I would prefer for science to be done in schools, by private individuals, and by private companies, but that just isn't happening anymore.

        The lesson is keep your government local. Concentration of power is bad, and history agrees with me (as does the Constitution). Perhaps you noticed that as Federal power increased, personal freedom decreased? Cut most of the Federal and some of the States and you end up with a lot more services, a lot more freedom, and a lot more control over your government. Then you have adequate police and fire protection, well funded schools and libraries, and good condition roads.

        People *are* willing to put in to the system. They just aren't willing to put into *your* system, and don't really like having their money confiscated to have things forced down their throats.
  • MD5 is sufficiently secure such that nobody will bother trying to mess with their ticket by generating collisions.

    On the flip side, red-light cameras themselves are controversial simply because people don't like them. Here in san diego there was a huge row over them because some of the fines gathered went to Lockheed Martin (camera maker).

    Personally, I just put those glass frames that make my license plate unreadable except from direct frontal view, and stay frosty.
  • Depends on the state (Score:4, Informative)

    by log2.0 (674840) on Thursday August 11, 2005 @02:38AM (#13292266)
    I live in South Australia (thats the name of the state, they werent that original when the pohms came here :)

    Anyway, we now have speed cameras on traffic light intersections and any random car parked on the side of the road *could* be a speed camera.

    In Victoria (where Melbourne is), they are even more tough. As soon as I cross the border to Vic, I don't speed at all.

    So the answer is "yes", they are very very trigger happy and in a lot of cases, there was no trigger, just an automated photo.
    • by MoonFog (586818)
      In Norway they have done something even more extreme. They have a camera taking your picture at one place, then several kilometers further down they take a new picture and calculate how fast you have driven between the two cameras, basically, your speed on average must meet the speed limit on average over quite a distance... They are testing this solution right now and it most likely will be legal to set it up.
      • Yeah, they are testing the same thing in Victoria..."the place to be" (that's their state slogan btw)

        It's obvious that this isn't for saving lives but for revenue.
        • Well, set it up on a stretch where you know people are speeding and it might slow things down a bit.

          That said, I see a lot of danger in old and unreliable drivers who will most likely decrease their speed to absolutely make sure that they average out below the speed limit (most likely being 10 - 20 km/h below), which in turn may cause very dangerous situation due to frustration from the drivers behind them..
    • ...the pohms came here...

      Just so you know it's pomes, as in Prisoners Of Mother England.

      When expanding the acronymn to an Englishman you always get a reply "but hey you're the prisoners!", at which point it's customary to point out that they're still stuck there.

      __
      Adult funny clips updated! [laughdaily.com]
    • by StikyPad (445176)
      Some friends and I were in Townsville a few years ago.. One of them rented a car and drove to Cairns for a couple of days to do some diving. Later he mentioned how nobody seems to speed, and he had been flying past all of them. He also mentioned seeing yellow boxes all over the place on the side of the road. He just assumed they were emergency telephones or something. A couple of months later, a bill from the rental company showed up on his credit card for $3,000US. He called the rental company to ask
  • by Frogbert (589961) <frogbert@@@gmail...com> on Thursday August 11, 2005 @02:38AM (#13292268)
    I've experianced speed cameras in both Queensland and Victoria and I have to say that by far Melbourne is the dodgiest of the lot. They claim that the cameras are there to save lives however they are little more then revenue raisers.

    Melbournians are subjected to hidden cameras looking over overtaking lanes. The cameras are privatised so people get paid more the more cars they catch. The situation there is terrible.

    Queensland is somewhat better because police are required to have a sign out saying that there are speed cameras in use, however this sign is usually conveniently placed behind a bush or behind the car with the camera in it. Queensland is also better off because the police do not rely so heavily on the revenue that their cameras drum up, it seems at times the only thing paying for Melbournes police is speeding offiences.

    One thing is certain, these cameras do not save any lives. I remember clearly once in high school a Policeman came to give a talk on vehicle safety he showed us a big graph with a stedily declining death rate over the years, he pointed out the huge drop after the introduction of seat bealts, then one after they banned drink driving, and a smaller drop after the introduction of airbags. My hand immediently shot up and I asked him when speed cameras were introduced, my teachers just laughed and he never answered the question.
    • by radja (58949) on Thursday August 11, 2005 @02:48AM (#13292309) Homepage
      just don't speed. it's not that hard. speeding causes an unnecessary amount of exhaust fumes, which costs lives. just don't, there is no excuse to speed.
      • by zakezuke (229119) on Thursday August 11, 2005 @03:11AM (#13292402)
        just don't speed. it's not that hard. speeding causes an unnecessary amount of exhaust fumes, which costs lives. just don't, there is no excuse to speed.

        Yes there is.

        1. You've got a huge mac truck on your tail that wants to go faster and won't stop for your little toyota.
        2. You've got a huge SUV on your tail that wants to go faster that won't stop for your little toyota
        3. Your driving down a huge mountain and your brakes gave out because you were a dumb ass and thought it was a good idea to go exactly the speed limit.

        Look, i'm not going to justifify going unsafe speeds... I've done it enough in my life but not going to touch that. No excuse for that.

        I am going to touch bases on the fact that keeping with trafic flow results in less accidents. I tried going the speedlimit in many places, thinking I was doing my part for the enviroment and saftey... and I get rear ended by everyone and their neighbor... so I have a choice... either go a little bit faster and reduce the number of accidents I have, or continue blindly following the signs and get in the hospital... again.

        BTW... going different speeds, accelerating and decelerating cause an unneccessary amount of exhost fumes... so do automatic transmitions. Going one consistant speed for as long as possible yields the best benifit in fuel consumotion and the least amount of fume production.

        In my life as a driver, I have NEVER been in an accident going over the speed limit keeping with trafic flow and being a generally safe driver. I have gotten into accidents when going the speedlimit. And now SUVs are so very popular... i'm going to keep it safe and go with traffic flow... cause it saves lives.
      • just don't speed. it's not that hard. speeding causes an unnecessary amount of exhaust fumes, which costs lives. just don't, there is no excuse to speed.

        speed is a measure of movement. Distance over time.

        So are you suggesting we never move?

        If not, how do you define when someone is "speeding"? 15kph, 50kph, 100kph (upper speed limit in NZ), 110kph (upper speed limit in AU), 130kph (upper speed limit in france during fine weather), 155mph (voluntary speed limit fitted to many cars in germany)

        If driving 60kp
      • speeding causes an unnecessary amount of exhaust fumes, which costs lives.

        Right. Do you have even the slightest shred of evidence that "exhaust fumes" play any part in the setting of speed limits ?

      • by horza (87255) on Thursday August 11, 2005 @06:37AM (#13293126) Homepage
        just don't speed. it's not that hard. speeding causes an unnecessary amount of exhaust fumes, which costs lives. just don't, there is no excuse to speed.

        Not necessarily. Different cars have different gearing ratios hence are more efficient at different speeds. For example if the optimum fuel-efficiency speed of my car is 65mph, and I am in a 30mph limit, then staying below the speed limit is causing an unnecessary amount of exhaust fumes and costing lives.

        As for costing lives, I don't think we can claim that. Contributing factor to early deaths, trigger for various things such as asthma, maybe. More lives are probably cost by speed cameras. I've lost count of the number of cars I've seen drastically brake at the last minute when seeing a speed camera late, and either nearly swerve off the road or have the cars pile up into the back of them. People often instinctively brake just in case, even if they are not speeding. It is probably also a contributing factor to a number of deaths in that it's one thing people are looking for when driving when they should be concentrating on the road.

        Phillip.
        • Not necessarily. Different cars have different gearing ratios hence are more efficient at different speeds. For example if the optimum fuel-efficiency speed of my car is 65mph, and I am in a 30mph limit, then staying below the speed limit is causing an unnecessary amount of exhaust fumes and costing lives.

          Bogus physics here. The fuel efficiency depends on the engine RPM (where it has an optimum range)and the speed of the vehicle (more -> worse efficency). If the manufacturer says the car is "most effici

      • speeding causes an unnecessary amount of exhaust fumes, which costs lives.

        But speed limits are not set with the emissions profile of the vehicles in mind. If they were then they'd be the same everywhere. And if they were then they would have been increasing as vehicles emissions have come down. The fact is speed limits are arbitrary. The only argument for sticking to a particular limit is simply that it is illegal not to, and if you're arguing for that then I expect to hear that you've never failed to

    • Solution: put the tickets revenue into a separate money pool, one the police nor city doesn't revenue from.
    • Idea: don't speed (Score:3, Insightful)

      by typical (886006)
      Queensland is somewhat better because police are required to have a sign out saying that there are speed cameras in use, however this sign is usually conveniently placed behind a bush or behind the car with the camera in it. Queensland is also better off because the police do not rely so heavily on the revenue that their cameras drum up, it seems at times the only thing paying for Melbournes police is speeding offiences.

      One thing is certain, these cameras do not save any lives. I remember clearly once in hi
  • Mmm... (Score:4, Informative)

    by iamdrscience (541136) <michaelmtripp@g m a i l . com> on Thursday August 11, 2005 @02:40AM (#13292273) Homepage
    Just to make it clear, this guy didn't prove something was flawed in their system, so much as the courts didn't bother to find an expert witness.
  • by hamfactorial (857057) on Thursday August 11, 2005 @02:40AM (#13292275)
    Officer: Please sign and initial box A, put your phone number and address in box B, please confirm and write in this 32-digit md5 hash in boxes C and D...
  • Obligatory (Score:5, Funny)

    by mikeophile (647318) on Thursday August 11, 2005 @02:42AM (#13292281)
    Heisenberg was driving down the Autobahn whereupon he was pulled over by a policeman. The policeman asked, "Do you know how fast you were going back there?
    Heisenberg replied, "No, but I know where I am."
  • How about we source a reliable news source? The Telegraph is for people who find it hard to read.
  • Fun times for all. (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 11, 2005 @02:45AM (#13292295)
    I live in Victoria, Australia (the state Melbourne is in) -- these refer to cameras in New South Wales (the state Sydney is in). There's been a rather strong backlash against speed cameras here; the margin has been lowered to 3kph. If you do exceed the speed limit by more than 25 kph, you lose your license for a month; more than 35 kph is six months; more than 45 kph is twelve months. The fines are harsh: $131 (Australian) for less than 10kph; $210 for less than 25 kph; $278 for less than 35kph; $377 for less than 45 kph; and $451 for more than 45 kph.

    There have been cases of cars being clocked at speeds greater than they are physically capable of doing, and a great brou-ha-ha about how travelling "five kph above the speed limit" doubles your risk of crashing (with some people extrapolating that to an exponential curve). (For the record: the research is five kph above the prevailing speed of the traffic, and it's not exponential.)

    If speed camera evidence is deemed untrustworthy, you can see a large chunk of government revenue fly out the window; they'll be onto it as fast as they can get their snouts out of the pork barrel.
    • by Zilch (138261)
      Dude! If are going to be going through a school zone with kiddies about (marked 40k's) at 45k's OVER THE LIMIT, (ie 85k's) then you well deserve to loose your licence for 12 months and cough up $451 bucks. I think you are getting off lightly.

      Zilch.
  • I wonder if Australian police are as (radar gun) trigger happy as they are in certain parts of the U.S.

    Hello? have you ever been to the UK or to France? there is a friggin' *network* of automated speed cameras that track you every-bloody-where and send you the bill directly by mail. There is almost no place where you can truly go over the speed limit. The US is a relaxed, friendly place compared to those countries...
  • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday August 11, 2005 @02:49AM (#13292315)
    Slightly off topic, but one of my favorite jokes...
    So there was this guy driving through town one day, he was going about 100 in a 35, he crosses over a bridge and not too far past the end of it he sees the familiar blinking lights behind him and pulls over. The police officer comes up to the window and asks him where he's trying to get in such a hurry, and the guy says he's late for work.
    The cop says "what job do you have that you have to get to so urgently?" and the guy says "I'm a Rectum Stretcher"
    The cop looks a little funny at the guy and says "A Rectum Stretcher? What does a a Rectum Stretcher do?"
    The guy says "well, first you start with a finger or two, work you way up to a fist, and keep going until it's six feet wide"
    The cop looks absolutely amazed and says "Well, what do you do with a six foot asshole?" and the man replies
    "You give him a radar gun and stick him at the end of a bridge".
    • slightly off topic too, but since we're doing jokes, i might as well.

      there was 2 old couples driving on the freeway very slowly. they were probably doing 20MPH at most. cars behind them would honk and finally a highway patrol car pulled them over and asked they if they knew they were driving on the freeway. the old lady replied yes. he then suggested that they drive on the local streets because they were driving so slow. she goes, but that sign back there told us to drive at 20MPH. the highway patrol cracke
  • As usual... (Score:5, Informative)

    by TheOriginalRevdoc (765542) on Thursday August 11, 2005 @02:51AM (#13292320) Journal
    ...the facts are less interesting than the headline.

    http://www.smh.com.au/news/national/motorist-wins- case-after-maths-whizzes-break-speed-camera-code/2 005/08/10/1123353388395.html [smh.com.au]

    A Sydney magistrate, Laurence Lawson, threw out the case because the Roads and Traffic Authority failed to find an expert to testify that its speed camera images were secure.


    I.e., it wasn't thrown out because MD5 is suspect; it was thrown out because the government couldn't find an expert witness to be cross-examined, for some reason we don't know. In fact, I'd read that statement as meaning that the magistrate wanted to examine the entirety of speed camera security, not just MD5.

    The motorist's defence lawyer, Denis Mirabilis, argued successfully that an algorithm known as MD5, which is used to store the time, date, place, numberplate and speed of cars caught on camera, was a discredited piece of technology.


    That part of the story is just a lawyer's opinion, not a fact. "Successfully", in the context of the previous quote, just means that his argument was unopposed in court.

    My understanding is that it is easy to generate multiple messages that have the same MD5 hash, but only if you get to choose both messages. It's still very hard (i.e., an infeasibly large number of CPU cycles for most of us) to generate data that yields the same MD5 hash as some other, arbitrary document.

    It all sounds to me more like a case of blinding a magistrate with science, than some kind of victory for common sense. (Well, lawyers are involved, so commonsense isn't relevant, anyway.)
  • The state of the art in exploiting what is known about generating MD5 collisions relies on generating executabe content with colliding checksums, and causing that content to behave differently because of the distinct blocks. Making two meaningfully different images that have colliding checksums is much, much harder. The best technique currently available for doing that is still brute force, which is just about on the edge of practical for a single pair of photos given a massive distributed effort - perhap
  • Details (Score:5, Informative)

    by Effugas (2378) * on Thursday August 11, 2005 @02:57AM (#13292347) Homepage
    OK, I'm partially responsible for people seeing applied attack against MD5 [doxpara.com], so I'll comment for a second.

    Basically, in 2004 Xiaoyun Wang released two different files with the same MD5 hash. This has been predicted since around 1996, when Hans Dobbertin showed the hash was broken -- but it took a while for the actual attack to show up.

    Alot of people said there were _no_ applied uses. Not true. For instance, the following two pages have the same hash:

    Lockheed Martin [doxpara.com]
    Boeing [doxpara.com]

    What's important to realize about the above content is that both web pages are included in both links; the difference between the source files (which MD5 is blind to) is just used to determine which page is displayed. What that means is that, for forensic purposes, it's trivial to rule out the best known attack against MD5 -- just look at the content being hashed.

    Thats not to say we should keep using MD5. It's broken, we need to move on. But attempts to claim that MD5 is broken, so we have no idea of any link between hashed content and real material -- that's just ridiculous. We have plenty of idea, especially with human-guided forensic operations.

    That being said -- if you can doctor a photo, you can doctor a hash. This is one of the things that makes files hosted on a single server w/ MD5 hashes "verifying" them a little silly...if you can alter the file, you can alter the .md5 file as well. (Files on multiple servers are a little different, because you can go elsewhere to see the deviating MD5 hash.)
  • by syousef (465911) on Thursday August 11, 2005 @02:58AM (#13292351) Journal
    I submitted and got rejected, and I thought if this wasn't a /. story nothing was.

    My question is how long before this sort of defence gets used against evidence in the form of video surveilence in general? How long before a bank robber can argue that the bank's security camera footage isn't secure? Or is this simply a classic case of a judge that does not understand, and a roads and traffic authority too apathetic and sure of itself to provide what's needed for the correct judgement?

    I have no love of the RTA. In NSW it's now 3 points off your license for going over the speed limit by a single kilometer/hour, and 6 points for the same if it's a long weekend or holiday period. So basically you can now lose your license for doing 1 kilometer over the limit twice over a 3 year period.
  • Good riddance (Score:5, Interesting)

    by bananahammock (595781) on Thursday August 11, 2005 @02:58AM (#13292353)
    Speed cameras in Perth (West Coast for the punters) are a real bitch. I hear these contraptions pay for themselves within a week of indiscriminately snapping drivers going just 4-5km/h over the speed limit. That probably sounds reasonable in built up areas where you the speed limit is 40km/h (during school hours), but on the open road where 110km/h is legal, you're better off flicking on the cruise control to avoid the boys in blue. Pre-cameras, the cops used to book you for in excess of 9km/h in the country - at least then there was some logical wiggle room, not to mention it wasn't some impersonal surprise money earner turning up in your mail one day.

    The extraordinary thing is that around the burbs, often I have to put my foot on the brake going down small hills just to ensure I don't edge over the limit. Perhaps sales of brake pads and cruise control equipment have increased substantially since the introduction of these fuckers. Both my parents have received speeding fines in the last few years, having gone for over forty years with a clean record.

    As an aside, a few years back, one chap was flashed by the camera as he drove by and promptly responded by swerving into the offending machine, taking it out all together. Unfortunately, these cameras have a bunch of wire connected to a nearby van, which stores all the data. The cops simply lifted the last photo taken and arrested the guy. Though a tad rash in his response, I still consider him a legend.
  • by TheOtherAgentM (700696) on Thursday August 11, 2005 @03:00AM (#13292357)
    I just like to drive so fast that the cameras see me as a blur.
  • by batkiwi (137781) on Thursday August 11, 2005 @03:04AM (#13292379)
    They:
    -post on the website the location of all fixed and mobile speed cameras http://www.canberraconnect.act.gov.au/speedcameras /index.html [act.gov.au]
    -have big signs saying "RED LIGHT AND SPEED CAMERA AHEAD" for fixed cameras

    If you get nabbed with those conditions, you deserve your ticket.
  • Kind of related... (Score:5, Informative)

    by Goth Biker Babe (311502) on Thursday August 11, 2005 @03:07AM (#13292390) Homepage Journal
    In the UK the deployment of speed cameras is at the discretion of the chief constable (the boss) of the local constabulary (usually with the jurisdiction of the county they are situated in). Interesting one or two counties in the UK don't have speed cameras. Even more interesting is that in the last set of figures, those counties without them actually saw a drop in injuries and fatalities whereas those with saw a rise.

    The thing about speed limits and cameras is that they are set an arbitrary value which, on average, appears to suit the road. But it's like seat belts, there are times when wearing one is worse than not wearing one but on average its better to wear one. My particular bug-bear is speeds on motorways. A nice sunny Sunday morning when the road is empty 100mph is not dangerous. 50mph in the fog in rush hour is. Speed cameras don't generally account for that. Speed doesn't kill. Inappropriate speed kills.

    There is one section of one motorway in the UK that has it right. A section of the M25 has adjusting speed limits and cameras to suit. I would like to see them on all motorways, moving from 30mph at the lower end to 100mph at the upper end. (Why 100 because that's the top speed of some small cars and having cars with differing speeds is also dangerous).
  • Speeding (Score:4, Insightful)

    by mcbridematt (544099) on Thursday August 11, 2005 @03:21AM (#13292442) Homepage Journal
    I wonder if Australian police are as (radar gun) trigger happy as they are in certain parts of the U.S.

    Yes.

    And I'd rather have a fine and a few points on my license than a murder conviction for running over a pedestrian at 90km/h in a 60km/h zone

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