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Speed cameras, privacy and transit scofflaws

By: Brent Kreud

Date: Tuesday, 27. January 2009

Arizona Governor Jan Brewar says she's shocked at revelations that Arizona�s speed cameras are always on and recording everyone who passes them. The public are pretty annoyed about it too.

The cameras are maintained by a private company which keeps the video records for 90 days, and the implications for privacy are causing a public outcry in the state. While supporters of the cameras are pointing out that they make streets safer, opponents are focusing on the potential for misuse of the information if there are no adequate safeguards for access and privacy.

Some people don�t worry about the privacy issue, saying that if you�re doing nothing wrong why worry. That may be a very na�ve idea about how information and privacy works. Imagine a situation in which a rival (business or otherwise) can do a Google search for your face and track everywhere you've been and what you've been up to at any time of the day or night.

Once people come to understand the full import of the privacy issue there is likely to be a much stronger backlash against a Big Brother society that does not have a very sophisticated system of controlling access to private information and very effective control checks for managing access to data.

As for the arguments about safety? Contrast the above with the recent revelations that Chicago Transit drivers are accumulating red light traffic tickets and that the city has decided to pay for them out of the Taxpayer�s pockets.

According to the Chicago Tribune Web site there were over 1200 incidences last year of Transit Buses running red lights. The city has decided to pay the drivers' $100 tickets.

Citations issued to Chicago Transit Authority buses for running red lights at photo-enforced intersections jumped from 641 in 2007 to 1,194 last year, according to CTA statistics.

Bus drivers argue that they are under pressure to keep on schedule but CTA officials say this is not an acceptable excuse. Last year, twenty-one CTA bus drivers got for more than one red-light violation and one driver even got four.

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