Armey Exposes Traffic-Light Spying

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Dick Armey

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Tuesday, June 26, 2001
New Camera Report
A new report reveals that profit is the true motive behind the red light camera program in California. Learn more about the report, and read the documents for yourself.


Wes Vernon
Armey Exposes Traffic-Light Spying
Tue Jun 26 10:55:37 2001

Armey Exposes Traffic-Light Spying

Wes Vernon

Tuesday, June 26, 2001

WASHINGTON - Gotcha! House Majority leader Dick Armey has turned the
spotlight on legal documents showing that profit, not safety, is the guiding
principle in yellow traffic lights of four seconds or less.

A few weeks ago, Armey, R-Texas, blew the whistle on the whole idea of using
machines instead of police officers to catch motorists who run red lights.
Moreover, the yellow light time was suspiciously short in many cases,
seemingly in an attempt to make it harder to stop in time before the light
turns red.

Now, says Armey, there is documented evidence in San Diego confirming that
this is exactly what's happening.
Attorneys with the "Red Light Defense Team" have obtained thousands of
confidential documents from the city's red-light camera contractor during
court proceedings.

"The evidence is clear," says the congressman. "The concern for safety has
given way to a concern for profit. It's all there in black and white."

Here are the criteria used to determine where red-light cameras were to be
placed in the city:

1. "High traffic volume." Heavy traffic ensures a steady stream of profits.

2. The document actually says cameras are to be used where the yellow signal
time is "less than 4 seconds."
Think about that. Is four seconds likely to be sufficient time for you to
come to a complete stop without the risk of being rear-ended? And is that
related to "safety"?

One of the documents actually shows that at one intersection where yellow
light time was increased from 3 to 4.7 seconds, there was a 90 percent
decline in the violations reported.

"The deck is stacked against the driving public," the congressman adds.

San Diego officials recently suspended that city's red-light camera program
after court action brought out the fact that camera sensors were being
manipulated. Or, as Armey puts it, Orwell's cash machine is out of service
in San Diego. If the cops are not on hand to issue the tickets, they have no
way of determining whether the tickets were issued fairly or not.

But the red-light camera is but one instance of machine-based privacy
invasions of motorists. Here's another.
Spying on Rental Cars

Next time you rent a car, you may want to ask the rental agency folks if
they plan on following your every move behind the wheel. has turned up a case that could determine whether you are entitled
to privacy once you sign on the dotted line and then leave the rental agency
's parking lot.

A Connecticut man is suing the Acme Rent-a-Car after it used GPS (Global
Positioning System) technology to track him and then fined him $450 for
speeding three times.

Most of us assumed handing out traffic tickets was the job of the police.
When and where was a law passed entrusting that responsibility to private

Whether you know it or not, rental car companies have used the GPS devices
since the mid-1990s, according to the C-Net report.

And there's big money in this privacy-invading cottage industry. "Fleet
management" companies such as AirQ and Fleetrack are selling newer tracking
devices to help companies monitor their vehicles.

The Connecticut case has pitted motorist James Turner against Acme
Rent-a-Car and the Connecticut Department of Consumer Protection.

Acme's attorney says this is not about penalizing customers, but about
protecting its cars. "With this device, you can track within a city block
anywhere in the world."

The company itself, according to the story, promotes the GPS and AirQ
ability to track a vehicle's location, when the car crosses into another
country or state, and even disable the car by remote control.

David Sobel, an attorney for the electronic Privacy Center here in
Washington, says the challenge now is to nip this practice in the bud before
it spreads.

Acme plans to abide by the ruling of the state Department of Consumer
Protection "If they say it's not fair, we'll give him his money back," says
the company.

The Privacy Center foundation worries that soon our cell phones will be
tracking us. At some point, someone needs to stand athwart this galloping
trend and say: "Stop. Enough."


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"Operation of a motor vehicle upon public streets and highways is not a mere privilege but is a right or liberty protected by the guarantees of Federal and State constitutions." Adams v. City of Pocatello 416 P2d 46

"The RIGHT of the citizen to DRIVE on the public street with freedom from police interference, unless he is engaged in suspicious conduct associated in some manner with criminality is a FUNDAMENTAL CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHT which must be protected by the courts." People v. Horton 14 Cal. App. 3rd 667 (1971)

"The right of a citizen to travel upon the public highways and to transport his property thereon, by horse-drawn carriage, wagon, or automobile is not a mere privilege which may be permitted or prohibited at will, but a common right which he has under his right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness." Slusher v. Safety Coach Transit Co., 229 Ky 731, 17 SW2d 1012, and affirmed by the Supreme Court in Thompson v. Smith 154 S.E. 579.

"The license charge imposed by the motor vehicle act is an excise or privilege tax, established for the purpose of revenue in order to provide a fund for roads while under the dominion of the state authorities, it is not a tax imposed as a rental charge or a toll charge for the use of the highways owned and controlled by the state." - PG&E v. State Treasurer, 168 Cal 420.



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