Cyrus Farivar of Ars Technica reports.The ordinance unanimously passed the city council’s first reading on Tuesday evening, and the city attorney Eleanor Dilkes told Farivar she expects it to pass the second and third readings at the council meeting on June 18, 2013.
The legislation amounts to an unprecedented stand against controversial tools increasingly used by law enforcement to obtain information.
“This ordinance would seemingly prevent a host of activities deemed dubious by some citizens … [and] is one of the most comprehensive and vigorous attempts I’ve seen to combat automated law enforcement and surveillance,” Woodrow Hartzog, a law professor and privacy expert at the Cumberland School of Law at Samford University, told Ars Technica.
The ordinance started as a petition drafted by the citizen group StopBigBrother.org. Farivar notes that Iowa City is the only municipality in the state that allows for local petitions to turn into ordinances that will be brought before the city council.
In September a congressional research report found that domestic drones may be able to bypass constitutional privacy safeguards because of their high level of sophistication.
In September the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) filed a suit against the Justice Department over the use of automatic licence plate readers, which can process up to 1,800 licence plates per minute.
Although the practice is useful when cross-checking for criminal connections, the ACLU contends, the massive databases can potentially track the lives of millions of people who have not committed any crimes.
The ACLU consider red light camera’s to be “a way for private companies to make millions by ticketing the public en masse, often for barely perceptible infractions, while violating fundamental civil liberties — with no demonstrable safety benefit.”
The City shall not:
A. Use any automatic traffic surveillance system or device, automatic licence plate recognition system or device, or domestic drone system or device for the enforcement of a qualified traffic law violation, unless a peace officer or Parking Enforcement Attendant is present at the scene, witnesses the event, and personally issues the ticket to the alleged violator at the time and location of the vehicle
If passed as expect, the law would take effect on June 27.
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