UPDATE: HB 259 was voted favorably out of committee this afternoon.
soak the taxpayers, and pave the way for privacy abuses.
The New York Times reported last month that "rear-end accidents have shot up at intersections with cameras."
Revenue Generation is Real Motive
Houston officials say they would accept more cash from the Legislature in lieu of red light cameras. The New York Times reported last month: "there has been criticism of the cameras' use to generate revenue from fines … and of revenue sharing arrangements with providers of the technology. Those arrangements, critics contend, have led to the placement of cameras not necessarily where they would promote safety, but where they will rack up the most violations."
Picture Snapped Doesn't Mean Guilt
Red light cameras give the ticket to the wrong person unless the owner of the car is driving. If someone driving a rental car runs a red light, will the rental company pay? If not, why not?
Even if a picture is taken, camera systems may target the wrong people. Houston's EZ-Pass system last year was capturing snapshots of vehicles that failed to pay their tolls, but the Houston Press reported they sometimes sent tickets to the wrong people.
Surveillance Cameras Are Prone To Abuse
Many camera systems zoom in and out and can rotate to view sidewalks or even inside neighboring buildings. Traffic cameras are designed to take high-definition photographs of license plates from a moving vehicle. That means they can photograph inside cars, too, if the operators choose to do so.
In 2003, in response to 9/11, the Texas Legislature made all information about location, specifications and operating procedures from surveillance cameras secret. ACLU believes that bill went too far, since now no one can know what video data the government gathers about them or what is being done with it. It would be unwise to massively expand the scope of government surveillance without fixing that statute to allow greater public accountability. There have been many examples of abuses:
In China, cameras installed ostensibly for traffic enforcement were used to identify and persecute dissidents after the Tiananmen Square uprising.
1 in 10 women were targeted for voyeuristic reasons by male camera operators in a study of London's infamous surveillance camera system.