6/19/13Iowa City passes what may be unique traffic surveillance law | TheGazettethegazette.com/2013/06/18/iowa-city-passes-what-may-be-unique-traffic-surveillance-law/2/3
comes with a big caveat.Despite the 7-0 vote to adopt an ordinance outlawing those technologies, the majority of thecouncil still supports the use of red-light cameras. Also, city officials saw no problemprohibiting drones and automatic license-plate readers because the city has no plans to usethem except, for the latter, for parking violations.Still, Iowa City’s law appears to be at the very least uncommon and possibly unique in theUnited States.“I’ve never heard of a law that covers all three of those at once,” said Jay Stanley, senior policyanalysis for the American Civil Liberties Union’s Speech, Privacy and Technology Project.Iowa City adopted an ordinance last year that allows for traffic-enforcement cameras, like red-light and speed cameras, although cameras had not yet been installed. The new ordinancebans those along with drones and automatic license-plate readers unless a police officer orparking attendant is on the scene.The new ordinance has garnered some national media attention sincethe first voteon it twoweeks ago. And privacy advocates are praising the council. A Colorado man even emailedcouncil members to say, “If I lived closer, I’d take you all to lunch!”But what many outside the area don’t seem to realize is that four of the seven councilmembers, and some key city staffers, are still supportive of using red-light cameras in IowaCity at some point in the future.The ban, however, will help avoid a potential legal battle over whether a citizen-initiatedpetition that led to the city taking up the issue could result in a public vote.That petition, submitted this spring, sought to either force the City Council to either ban thedevices or send the matter to voters in an election.The city attorney ruled that the portion or the proposed ordinance dealing with traffic-enforcement cameraswas not timelyand therefore the council did not have to act on it. The ACLU of Iowa had earlier said it wouldconsider suingif Iowa City did not allow the wholepetition to move forward.