Tech

Wish flag: Why "zero" is not a good license plate


What happens when you enter terms from the IT world in the US as your preferred identifier? This little fun among programmers has the security expert Joseph Tartaro in the meantime "Speeding ticket Hell" brought. At this year's Defcon in Las Vegas, Tartaro alias Droogie explained how his yearlong harmless test suddenly led to more than $ 12,000 in debt to the authorities (PDF).

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  1. LexCom Information Systems GmbH, Munich
  2. Northrop Grumman LITEF GmbH, Freiburg



Tartaros problem: End of 2016, he just wanted to know just for fun, whether the California Transport Authority DMV the term "Zero" accepted as a wish plate. The computer expert expected a rejection, because finally is "Zero" Next "Nile" or "None" in some programming languages ​​defined as a value indicating the absence of a value (null). Therefore, anyone who carries zero as a last name can not only get problems when booking airline tickets,

But not invisible

The registration of the number plate was, however, easily. Tartaro was pleased because he hoped to be able to cheat the increasing number plate recognition in the US. "I will be invisible", he said according to Mashable and added: "Instead, I got all traffic tickets."

There was a first problem in 2017, when the system initially rejected the renewal of the entry. But the real trouble started in 2018. At that time Tartaro received a first parking ticket for parking, which he paid without a hitch. That was obviously a mistake, as it turned out. Because suddenly the traffic fines pounced on him. They were all addressed to him, even though they did not concern his car or were from cities he had never been to. He should even pay for traffic fines from 2014. At more than 12,000 US dollars, the claims finally summed up.

Collection company manipulates data

They were raised by the Citation processing Center, which solicits outstanding debts on behalf of cities, districts and other institutions. Apparently, the system showed the number plate in punishments in which the license plate information was forgotten "Zero" to. Finally, this value was linked to Tartaro's car, which confirmed this by paying the first penalty. The Company's search form continues to track multiple traffic tickets that have been mistakenly assigned to Tartaro. You have to do this as a state and California "Zero" enter as number plate.

However, Tartaro was unable to achieve anything at the collection agency. On the contrary. According to his presentation, the company subsequently changed entries in the database, so that now his vehicle model was named in it. Only after he started in early March 2018 via Twitter The DMV had drawn attention to his problem, the debt could be temporarily canceled. At the end of last week, they are said to have lain at more than $ 6,000. After the US magazine Wired had interviewed the collection agency on the case, the entries disappeared in the past few days almost completely.

Despite all the annoyance Tartaro does not want to change his license plate. As long as there are fines involved, it could make things even more complicated, he said Wired. He would feel uncomfortable unless everything was clear. Maybe he will be even longer than "Zero" have to drive around.