Victorian Police have suspended, not cancelled, fines recorded by 110 fixed speed and red light cameras infected by “WannaCry” ransomware virus from June 6-23.
UPDATE: A preliminary investigation has concluded and all fines have now been reinstated. Read the full report here.
Acting Deputy Commissioner Ross Guenther said almost 600 fines had been “cancelled” and “withdrawn” to retain the public confidence in the system.
However, we checked with VicPol who confirmed that the fines are only suspended until the Road Camera Commissioner has completed his investigation of all 280 fixed speed and red light cameras starting tomorrow (Monday, June 26, 2017).
So those fines could still apply. As it is, three motorists caught for major offences have had their licences cancelled.
Also, we checked on reports that said VicPol had posted a list of the 55 affected camera sites but received this reply for VicPol media: “Victoria Police does not post lists of where traffic cameras are located so we cannot assist.”
Contrary to what Guenther said, public confidence is surely shattered by a system that veils camera locations in secrecy and doesn’t scrap fines that accrued when cameras were considered to be compromised.
It also makes us wonder how many other cameras in other states are affected by hackers or the accidental infestation of computer viruses.
Police say there is no evidence this was the result of cyber hackers, but confirm the virus has been removed and all cameras are active again.
Motorcycle campaigner Wayne Carruthers says the police statement that a contractor with a memory stick updating a camera was the start of the problem is not plausible.
“The entry point of WannaCry into the UK NHS was via an port open to the internet and from one PC spread to many in the NHS,” he says.
“It is more likely that the PC used to retrieve images from cameras was infected and that would explain how all cameras are now suspect.”
The public would have every right to express a lack of confidence in any infringement notice issued from the beginning of this intrusion into the camera network
How can we motorists have any future confidence in a system that could so easily fall prey to hackers or a virus?
Former No 1 member of the Motorcycle Riders Association of Australia and longtime rider advocate Rodney Brown who boasts an advanced diploma in justice says the suspended fines should be cancelled.
“If a speed camera has been proven to be faulty that should be enough in itself to refund all fines and penalties associated with that camera to make it fair just and equitable,” he says.
Victorian Motorcycle Council vice-chair John Eacott says they are generally concerned with speed cameras that reverse the presumption of innocence.
“We are concerned where you are guilty until proven innocent as is the case with speed cameras, especially if they are relying on a system that has been hacked,” he says.
Victoria has had ongoing problems with its speed camera system including an incident in 2003 when a 1970s Datsun 120Y was booked at 158km/h on the ring road; a speed it was impossible for that old four-cylinder to reach.
“It took a massive publicity campaign to change the government’s dogmatic response that the speed camera system works. That’s happened a few times over the years,” John says.
“It is debatable that the whole speed camera system contributes anything to road safety since they are all in known locations where people slow down then speed up again.
“Our taxpayer dollars would be far better spent on properly teaching road users to drive carefully and responsibly.”