Speed Cameras

Red-Light Ticket Recipients Must Be Disclosed to Newspaper

The court says journalists have the right to check the records for government employees

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A federal court on Monday ordered the city of Tallahassee and for-profit vendor Affiliated Computer Services (ACS) to hand over the names of all red light camera ticket recipients to the Tallahassee Democrat newspaper. On July 15, 2011, the paper demanded copies of a year's worth of notices so it could analyze how the program is being administered, particularly the identity of city and county employees who have received citations. Fearing disclosure, the city filed suit, asking the US District Court for the Northern District of Florida to decide whether the freedom of information request was barred under federal statutes designed to protect motorist privacy.

The Driver's Privacy Protection Act (DPPA) prohibits the disclosure of personal information from motor vehicle records, unless it is for law enforcement or public safety purposes. The penalty for unlawful disclosure is $2500 for each individual whose privacy is violated—or $42.5 million for the 17,000 names sought by the Tallahassee Democrat.