ACLU pushes back against Minneapolis speed camera initiative

Traffic camera monitoring a red car.
Traffic camera monitoring a red car. Photo credit Getty Images

While officials in the city of Minneapolis are working on a program that would install cameras to monitor speeding and other traffic infractions, the ACLU has shared it "has concerns" for the intiative.

Teresa Nelson, the legal director for the Minnesota ACLU, joined News Talk 830 WCCO’s Jason DeRusha, sharing her concerns over the initiative.

Nelson shared that the ACLU fought against red light cameras used in the early 2000s. One of the issues faced then was tickets being given to the owner of the vehicle, not the driver. She says those concerns are still relevant today.

“When we look at what I would call photo cop or automated traffic enforcement like this, it still raises those privacy and due process concerns, even if you fix the state law issue,” Nelson said. “We’re punishing owners of vehicles as opposed to who actually committed the offense.”

One example Nelson shared was a car owner bringing their vehicle in for service. She says that if the mechanic takes it out for a drive to make sure it works and is caught speeding, the owner would be liable for paying the fine.

“You may not be able to prove your innocence in a situation like that,” Nelson said.

Another concern about having traffic cameras is the government being able to take photos of drivers while in their cars.

“Collecting this data is similar to collecting automatic license plate reader data. It can create a pretty detailed portrait of somebody's movements throughout the day. So if you have these cameras, it can morph into much more pervasive surveillance,” Nelson said, adding, “that’s an issue with other police surveillance as well.”

As of now there isn't a plan to put cameras in place, as Nelson says that the efforts would not be allowed without approval from the state legislature, as Minnesota law requires moving violations to be cited to the driver of the vehicle.

Featured Image Photo Credit: Getty Images