The Chicago Sun Times reported last week about new red light
cameras that were installed in numerous intersections around the city. These
new cameras have the technology that allows them to view 360 degrees around the
intersection. The cameras, which are supposed to monitor traffic infractions at
specific intersections, can now monitor what is happening on the streets and
sidewalks that completely surround the intersections.
This has raised the
eyebrows of many, including the Illinois chapter of the American Civil
Liberties Union (“ACLU”). “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,” stated Adam Schwartz, a senior attorney for the American Civil
Liberties Union of Illinois. “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.”
Adam Collins, a police spokesman, insisted the department isn’t
abusing citizens’ rights with surveillance cameras — whether they’re red-light
cameras, the “blue-light” cameras in violent neighborhoods or Chicago Transit
Authority cameras. “All cameras are used for legitimate law-enforcement
purposes and investigation,” Collins said.
We won’t really know whether these cameras invade privacy until
there is an arrest made of someone caught on video outside of the actual
intersection, and the issue is actually argued in Court. These cameras were
installed to make intersections safe for drivers and pedestrians and to,
hopefully, prevent car accidents and pedestrian accidents. It will be interesting to see if the Chicago
police stay true to their word and only use the cameras for traffic monitoring
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