As traffic cameras continue to draw the ire of privacy advocates nationwide, the Windy City is facing massive financial turmoil over their exploitation of the devices.
Big Brother has come to America. Between the ever-increasing use of RFID chips in credit cards, unconstitutional police checkpoints during any summer holiday, and the widespread installation of face-recognizing cameras throughout the nation’s cities, one can easily become inundated with the terrifying implications of this covert technology. Chicago, similar to countless other American cities, has employed one such piece of the surveillance state puzzle relentlessly: Red light cameras.
The idea is simple; should your vehicle irresponsibly run a red light, a camera is then triggered to take a photo of your license plate for the authorities to track you down and issue a citation. While this in and of itself muddies the waters of the 4th Amendment, the real issue in Chicago was the city’s exploitation of what happened after your car’s likeness was recorded by the government.
“The Chicago City Council is set to review a $38.75 million proposal to settle a class-action lawsuit against the city for its handling of the local red-light camera program.
“The lawsuit alleged that the city did not give adequate notice to violators and charged improper late fees, according to WLS-TV. If agreed to, the settlement would allow around 1.2 million Chicago, Illinois, motorists to collect up to 50 percent refunds.
“The multimillion-dollar settlement would affect drivers who received tickets from 2010 to 2015, and includes $28.75 million in cash refunds to motorists who paid fines and $12 million in debt forgiveness for those who never paid tickets.
“Jacie Zolna, attorney for the plaintiffs, said the city shortened the deadlines for fine payment and gave no notice before considering someone delinquent and charging them even more in late fees.
“‘The law allows them 21 days from when they get that ticket to contest it, or do something with it. On the 14th day, the city was finding people liable. And you could no longer contest the ticket,’ she told WLS-TV.”
While the use of the cameras in not to be reviewed any time soon, this lawsuit could bring a small victory to the citizens of Chicago.
Traffic cameras represent only a fraction of the horrendous over-use of surveillance technology in modern America. Between the TSA and DHS alone, a case could be made for a number of unethical, and like unconstitutional practices being forced on the citizens of this great nation. This lawsuit certainly won’t be the end of such overreach, but it is certainly a wonderful, costly reminder to the city of Chicago that We The People are not to be trifled with.