Arizona to Turn Speed Cameras into Spy Cameras
Arizona state police plan to turn statewide speed camera program into a surveillance network.

The Arizona Department of Public Safety (DPS) is planning to turn its statewide speed camera program into a spy camera network. According to a written request for proposals sent to various speed camera companies and obtained by the Associated Press, the state police are seeking to include automated number plate recognition (ANPR) technology in its new automated ticketing system. This would allow motorists accused of no wrong-doing to have their movements monitored and recorded for use by police agencies.

The for-profit company selected to operate the camera ticketing program must also "provide computer queries" for "any law enforcement purpose as requested by the DPS designee."

Almost one year ago, DPS expressed interest in installing standalone ANPR cameras to track and identify motorists on Arizona highways. The DPS now says that it is expanding the ticketing program's role to identify stolen vehicles and locate criminals. Oakland, California recently announced a similar plan to turn its red light cameras into spy cameras.

ANPR is in wide use throughout England with every local police force equipped with at least one police cruiser capable of scanning and tracking motorists on area roads. The devices have produced mixed results with thousands of motorists accused of crimes based on misreads by the device or incorrect information in the government database. The system has also criminalized millions of motorists over routine paperwork errors.

Source: Highway cameras could catch more than speeders (Associated Press, 8/18/2007)