ACLU raises red flag over traffic cameras

By Fran Spielman and Frank Main | Sun Times

Chicago’s switch to a new red-light camera vendor that uses radar technology will allow hundreds of cameras installed at busy intersections to pan in all directions — worrying civil libertarians who fear an invasion of privacy.

Adam Schwartz, a senior attorney for the American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois, said the Chicago Police Department should use the 360-degree panning technology only when there’s “suspicion of criminal activity.”

That means police should not track individuals on the street unless they’re searching for a “particular suspect,” Schwartz said.

“There is a mission creep. These cameras that were put up for the purpose of traffic enforcement now have 360-capability, which is not part of traffic enforcement, but is for other purposes,” he said. “Where we go says a lot about who we are. Whether we’re going to the union meeting, to see a criminal defense lawyer or to worship, we need safeguards to ensure that the government isn’t using these ever-expanding camera systems to monitor what people are doing.”

(Photo: Wikimedia Commons)

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