ACLU Pans New Chicago Red-Light Cameras That Will Look In All Directions


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. The Chicago Sun-Times say that worries civil libertarians who fear an invasion of privacy. Adam Schwartz of 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.

Adam Collins, a police spokesman, said 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,” he said. Arizona-based Redflex Traffic Systems operated the city's red-light cameras between 2003 and last year. The company relied on “loop detectors” mounted in the street. The old cameras didn't pan in all directions.

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