This week, state lawmakers discussed a bill which would permit police and other law enforcement agencies in the state to access video footage from traffic cameras as part of their criminal investigations. Currently, images from these cameras are only allowed to be used in traffic citation cases.
House Bill 1047, which went before the House Public Safety Committee recently, would let footage taken by speed, red light, and toll road cameras be viewed by law enforcement personnel if they first obtained a warrant from a judge. Supporters of the measure call it ridiculous that these cameras can be used by citizens to defend themselves against a citation, but not by police trying to solve a murder. But privacy advocates worry that the use of this footage in criminal cases is another step on the road to a "surveillance state."
American Traffic Solutions operates over ten dozen such cameras across Washington, although the footage is only kept for 30 days. ATS officials say that its cameras have been used by police in Florida to investigate over 400 cases, while New Jersey authorities counted 200 cases in which traffic camera footage was used.
HB 1047 must still pass the entire state House as well as the Senate before it can become law. What are your thoughts on this bill? Feel free to leave them in the comments below.