Covered at Reason 24/7: Police Want Traffic Cameras Used for Wider Surveillance

Reason 24/7ReasonTraffic cameras. Don't you hate the damned things? It's bad enough having some robo-snitch ratting on you for going a few miles over the limit on an open road or shaving a yellow without worrying that it actually picked up a guy passing you but snapped your plate instead. Then again, it could be worse — traffic cameras could just be general surveillance cameras, tracking your face and your license plate and monitoring the public in a wild display of Bloomberg-esque mission creep.

Come to think of it, that just may come to pass. Lawmakers in both Washington and Oregon are considering changing the law to allow traffic cameras to be used as ... well ... Big Brother's all-seeing eyes. The Washington measure already passed the House and awaits Senate approval. Oregon hasn't advanced that far, yet, but give 'em time.

Police say they won't use the cameras to track people for minor crimes. Of course not.

From Northwest Watchdog:

PORTLAND – Police in Oregon and Washington want to expand the reach of red light cameras to catch the really bad guys – murderers, child abductors, armed robbers.

Both state legislatures are considering proposals that would eliminate provisions in the state laws that keep police from using the cameras for anything but red light running.

Police say they just want to use it to catch felons.

In Washington, police say being able to use the license plate image captured by red light cameras might have helped them catch a suspect in the drive-by shooting of a 21-year-old woman in Seattle. As the law stands now, police can only use the image to enforce traffic infractions.

But civil liberties advocates fear changing the red light camera law is one step closer to broadening government surveillance.

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  • stoneymonster||

    "In Washington, police say being able to use the license plate image captured by red light cameras might have helped them catch a suspect in the drive-by shooting of a 21-year-old woman in Seattle. As the law stands now, police can only use the image to enforce traffic infractions."

    So they can't go to a judge and get a warrant for the specific time and location? Or they just don't want to?

  • Paul.||

    Or they just don't want to?

    Ding!

    "As the law stands now, police can only use the image to enforce traffic infractions."

    As the law stands now, there are a whole host of things law enforcement can't do without a warrant.

  • califernian||

    Police say they just want to use it to catch felons.

    Who defines the felonies? Oh wait, nver mind.

    OBEY

  • LarryA||

    Felonies are crimes that you commit three of every day.
    http://www.threefeloniesaday.c.....fault.aspx

  • sarcasmic||

    The slippery slope argument is a fallacy!

  • Enjoy Every Sandwich||

    It's a logical fallacy. We're discussing the State. No logic there.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    POWERFUL LAW ENFORCEMENT TOOLS. And I ain't talking about the cameras.

  • dalewalt||

    C'mon, you have to trust our authority figures!

  • ||

    You have nothing to fear if you aren't doing anything wrong.

  • Paul.||

    Cue Tulpa, 3...2...

  • Paul.||

    I know the answer: Ban drones, except for... law enforcement use... Oh wait... fuck...

    http://seattletimes.com/html/l.....esxml.html

  • AlmightyJB||

    Prediction: You'll continue to see stories like the one about the 21 year old women until the media clammers something must be done and the pols and sheep fall in line. In 10 years every city will be like London where they can watch your every move. Sad thing is we're already half way there.

  • fish||

    Okay we're halfway there......once we're there can't we start paying these puds minimum wage....or just firing most of them? The f'ing machines are doing the majority of the real "police" work anyway. Crime goes down and more of the thuggish unemployable have to learn to get by without taxpayer largesse!

  • Agammamon||

    No, because they will control the machines and use that power against you unless you pay the geld, or they just feel like it.

  • Copernicus||

    And pay the Guild. Sorry, I'm reading Dune (again).

  • rts||

    And even if you get London-like surveillance, it won't do a damn thing about crime rates.

  • AlmightyJB||

    So wonder what the cops would say if we said ok you can use the cameras as a set of eyes as long as you fire a cop for every camara you use as one? I don't really wonder.

  • NeonCat||

    If you can get the cameras to join the union, they might be okay with it, but only if they don't have to fire the cop.

    Shooting a camera would carry the same sentence as shooting a cop, of course.

  • ||

    Officer Kodak.

  • Rich||

    Telly Vision.

  • Copernicus||

    Who loves ya baby?

  • Enough About Palin||

    "Covered at Reason 24/7: Police Want Traffic Cameras Used for Wider Surveillance"

    How about we put them all over in the god damned station house?

  • ||

    But civil liberties advocates fear changing the red light camera law is one step closer to broadening government surveillance.

    Uh, it's not "one step closer to broadening" it; it is broadening it. WTF?

  • Lord Humungus||

    Is Michigan some sort of paradise for lawbreakers such as myself?

    I've never seen a red-light/speed camera...

    and we don't have drunk driving roadblocks.

  • AlmightyJB||

    Can you imagine a DUI checkpoint in Detroit? Actually in Columbus you never see checkpoints in neighborhoods where half the population's stoned all the time. They're always out in the 'burbs. Prolly cause its safer for the cops that way.

  • wwhorton||

    Well, as long as only felons in the act of committing a felony show up in the cameras, sort of like a reverse vampire-mirror thing, I don't see what the problem is.

    Oh, and as long as they install the same cameras in every government building, including the police stations. And distribute the feed live via the Internet.

  • Rich||

    Oh, and as long as they install the same cameras in every government building, including the police stations. And distribute the feed live via the Internet.

    This. "We need the public's help. If you see something, say something."

  • BlogimiDei||

    Little brother where are you?

  • Tim||

    Will these cameras have tentacles that can reach into your pants? Or is that just Texas?

  • ||

    My apologies to anyone hearing this story for the second time.

    A guy I worked with was stationed in Germany and the day before he left he gets a citation in the mail saying he was caught speeding. Included was a picture of his car, with him driving it and the speed he was clocked at. It said his fine was XX.

    As payment, he mailed them a picture of his money.

  • Rich||

    The way I heard it, the authorities then mailed him a picture of handcuffs.

  • Agammamon||

    Yeah, urban legend

  • Rick O'Shay||

    I wonder if the law covers privately owned traffic cameras?

  • mr lizard||

    Next Paintball guns will be classified NFA

  • Torontonian||

    I still don't have a problem with police surveillance cameras, provided the evidence they provide is subject to standard rules of admissibility, and the defendant is given the opportunity to challenge that evidence.

    Frankly, I think video evidence is far more reliable than a police officer's testimony, especially in situations where the police themselves have failed to follow the rules (for which there is plenty of evidence thanks to video cameras).

  • Anonymous Coward||

    Why am I on this slope sliding downward towards tyranny? And why is it so slippery?

  • ||

    Oh, that's just a fallacy.

  • Agammamon||

    I'll make 'em a deal - you get to put up all the traffice surveillance cameras you want but license plates have to go.

  • Agammamon||

    If this is going to happen then I think that the public should have live access to the camera feeds also.

    There's no reason to limit access to only the state, set up a webpage so everyone can look through the camera

  • jasno||

    Meh... we entered the surveillance state a few years back and no one gave a shit. It's too late, IMHO. They're already using the cruiser cams to capture license plates. The DEA, and who knows who else, sets up concealed cameras to log license plates along freeways.

  • buybuydandavis||

    "Then again, it could be worse — traffic cameras could just be general surveillance cameras, tracking your face and your license plate and monitoring the public in a wild display of Bloomberg-esque mission creep."

    Inevitable.

  • Meerkatx||

    CCTV is coming to America. In Britain they have a program where anyone can monitor CCTV and earn rewards for reporting crimes they see and I believe that's not too far in our own future.

  • AlmightyJB||

    Prolly easier to find hookers that way. No sense wasting gas.

  • Copernicus||

    They mostly come out at night, mostly.

  • Copernicus||

    Prediction:

    A police brutality incident will be caught by a red light camera, and the PoPo union will fight using the video as evidence.

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