What’s Wrong With The Cameras Recording 24 hours a Day?

When we travel on public roads, we have a reasonable expectation of privacy.  For us to be noticed out on the road is one thing, but for our movements statewide to be tracked by a private company, or by the government, is unacceptable.  American Traffic Solutions provide photo radar systems for Pima County, and red light camera systems for the City of Tucson.  They also provide these services for many other communities in Arizona.  These cameras record everyone who passes by, whether they are breaking any traffic laws or not.  They are gathering information about our movements on an unprecedented scale with this video, and no one oversees them in the handling of this information.  In fact, they lied about the fact that they record this video in order to ease the acceptance by our elected officials.  As long as the cameras are up, we have no way of knowing what is recorded, or how the information is being used.  Therefore, the cameras must be removed.

In addition to recording video, they are identifying each vehicle that passes their cameras using a software tool called Automatic Number Plate Recognition, or ANPR.  This is a computer program which automatically reads the license plate numbers in the camera images in real time.  These systems can read one plate per second for cars traveling up to 100 mph, and are getting better all the time.

I don’t know what this database actually looks like, but I am an engineer, and if I were designing this system, this is what I would record:

Date Time Plate # Speed Direction Registered Owner




North Chuck Huckelberry




North Ramón Valadez




North Sharon Bronson




South Richard Elías




North Karin Uhlich




North Nina J. Trasoff

Modern computer hardware can easily store millions of these records for months or years without spending a lot of money.  Before too long, they will also have the capacity to store images with your record.  These images will show you, your car, you children, and any other passengers.  I am not sure how far facial recognition software has come, but the examples I have seen are pretty good at identifying individuals.

The cameras are not monitored by law enforcement.  They are monitored by employees of American Traffic Solutions, in the case of the Pima County or City of Tucson cameras, or Redflex, for the Department of Public Safety cameras. The control of this information by law enforcement is tenuous, at best.

Let’s say an unscrupulous employee of one of these companies did a little data analysis, and decided to pull all the records for Chuck Huckleberry from camera site P134:





North Chuck Huckelberry




South Chuck Huckelberry




North Chuck Huckelberry




South Chuck Huckelberry




North Chuck Huckelberry




South Chuck Huckelberry

This employee could determine that Mr. Huckleberry is away from his home every day from at least 8:00 am to 5:10 pm.  He could pass this information off to an acquaintance who might be interested in burglarizing Mr. Huckleberry’s house.  Furthermore, if Mr. Huckleberry decided to go home early on the day of the robbery, the employee would see his license plate come up on the computer and be able to warn the robbers.

Alternatively, they could see that perhaps Mr. Huckelberry was in Kingman on a particular day, and know he is not home.  Do you really want a private company to have this kind of detailed information about your whereabouts?

No one knows if American Traffic Solutions is using ANPR in Tucson or Pima County.  They are not supposed to be, but they have the technology in place, and they lied to the City of Tucson and the Pima County Board of Supervisors about 24 hour recording even taking place.  Both entities were specifically assured that it wasn’t, but it was revealed later that it is.  Karin Uhlich from the Tucson City Council, and Richard Elias and Ray Carroll from the Pima County Board of Supervisors publicly complained about this in January.  Karin Uhlich stated, “When the Mayor and Council approved the red light cameras, we were explicitly told that the cameras would be only be activated during a violation. We were told they would not be running all the time.”

In light of these revelations, how can assurances they are not currently using it be believed?  They record you whether you are breaking any laws or not.  With cameras statewide linked together, we are putting a lot of information into the hands of private companies that the government is not keeping very close track of.

We have a reasonable expectation of privacy when we are out in public and these cameras remove all pretense of privacy.  It is unacceptable for a private company or the government to record us on such a large scale.  The only way to be assured we are not being recorded is to remove the cameras.  I am a careful driver, and I am in favor of better enforcement of traffic laws, but cameras are not the way to do it.

– James Howard


45 Responses to What’s Wrong With The Cameras Recording 24 hours a Day?

  1. Excellent article and ideas expressed! I couldn’t agree with you more! A class action lawsuit needs to be implemented simply based on the aspects of lost privacy regarding these cameras. I firmly believe the 1st and 4th Amendments in the U.S. Constitution have been violated regarding the use of surveillance cameras in public places, which is why a class action lawsuit must be pursued. The responsible culprits are the government and the manufacturers of this equipment.

  2. Bill Conley says:


    I’m confused?? What does the 1st and 4th amendments have to do with the cameras?

  3. The 1st & 4th Amendment have everything to do with it Bill. The 1st Amendment talks about making no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof. Some religious people refuse to have their image recorded. Their rights are being violated as they cannot freely exercise their religion as they see fit in this way.

    Then when the 1st Amendment goes on to freedom of speech, press, right of the people to peaceably assemble and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances, If I’m being recorded in public that could limit my freedom of speech, peaceful assembly and my right to criticize government since the cameras are recording me and are used as intimidation. The cameras are recording a face to what he/she says/does and when he/she says/does it. They’ve got cameras which can read our lips and how we feel.

    The 4th Amendment talks about the right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers and effects against unreasonable searches and seizures, which shall not be violated. If I see a camera recording my movements, where I’m going, what I’m doing, what I’m saying, who I’m with, what I’m carrying, how I’m feeling, I am being unreasonably searched and I am being violated.

    These cameras need to be removed just based on Constitutional grounds.

  4. Bill Conley says:

    Big stretch Jeffery…
    You as an individual loose your expectation of privacy when your out in the open public.

    I agree they need to be removed…

  5. Lisa says:

    Well stated Jeffrey I could not agree with you more. Any infringement on our constitutional rights in which these camera’s do, is a step towards a loss of all rights, in small increments. This country was founded on small government ruled by the people, lets keep it that way.

  6. Meri says:

    Since most people are victims of their own routine, having camers out that record their movements is a mute point. How many people do NOT travel the exact route to and from work 5 days a week? Just recording thousands of the same people at the same time really does not improve the chances that those same people are at a higher risk of having their homes broken into. We are all at risk.

    People that are against the cameras are those that are very political or worried rhat they will be recorded doing something that they should not be doing, like cheating on their spouse or being at a local coffee shop when they are on the clock at wotk.

    I have no reason to care if they are up or not….not now anyway. But if a loved one of mine was, say, kidnapped, and the cameras were able to record the face of the victim and help in their safe return, THEN I would applaud having them up.

    Otherwise, who cares. They employ people. Employed people spend money and boost the economy.

    Just my two cents worth.

  7. Meri,

    What you are not taking into account is some of the victims of these cameras are caught in embarrassing situations. Let’s say someone is walking down the street innocently and all of sudden the person’s pants tears exposing his or her underwear? Let’s say someone has incontinence problems and wets his or her pants and the ground? Does anyone normal want those things being caught on camera for someone to chuckle at and pass along to others? NO!!!!! These cameras are inherently being used for evil purposes and need to be removed as soon as possible!

  8. James Howard says:

    I don’t take the same route to work every day. It depends on the traffic, whether I need to stop for gas or groceries, or what the traffic reports say. My favorite route used to be straight down Oracle, but I have abandoned that since I got screwed by a shorter-than-national-standard yellow arrow there.

  9. Meri says:

    Well Jeffrey I would hope that infantile behavior such as you mention, stayes on the school grounds. But OK, I’ll bite. How often have you witnessed either of those scenarios? I am old and I have NEVER witnessed them. Not even on the playgrounds of my youth.

    I have, however, personally been a victim of a crime. Actually more than one. The camera that was of benifit to me was not a street one but an ATM one. I was happy that camera was in working order. The other crimes were of the house being burglerized. How I wish there were street cameras to film those!!! I am also a second cousin to a kidnapped victim. My uncle paid the ransome. Was many years ago. Had there been cameras, things would have ended differently.

    So……I am Ok with them, I try to obey the laws, mess up some with going over the speed limit if I am not paying attention to the pressure I am applying to the gas pedal, try to stop at all yellow lights but that depends on how close the car behind me is.
    Ripple effects of the decisions we make. Own up to them and fix them.

    So cameras are not my issue….there is SOOOOOO much more to concern ourselves with! And they can be helpful. Yes they can be used wrongly but then so can you own ATM card……..

  10. Meri says:

    Ahhhhh yes but James you HAD a favorite route!

  11. James Howard says:

    I stand by my comments.

  12. Meri says:

    And James you should. Afterall, once written you own them!

    But I will say that if you have a problem getting camera flashed after altering your route, YOU may be the problem. Just a thought. Maybe you have had no probs since the route change.

  13. James Howard says:

    Why would I have a problem with camera flashes after altering my route so I don’t drive by cameras?

    Anyway, my driving record speaks for itself – I am a careful driver, and my colleagues at work always vote for me to drive because they think I am the safest. Because I don’t speed, I don’t tailgate, I don’t talk on my phone and drive, and I am constantly on the lookout for hazards.

  14. Meri says:

    As I said, you may not have a prob once the route was changed. I see that was a correct statement. Otherwise, consider you get the gold star on the middle of your forhead for such law abiding practices!

  15. James Howard says:

    In the future, there will be cameras at every intersection and along every street unless we nip this in the bud.

  16. Meri says:

    I can live with that. We have had satellites up there watching for many years. Cameras on the streets and at the intersections is not a new concept, they too have been around for some time. If I happen to scratch my butt and someone watching those cameras sees, I could care less. People on the street would have seen anyway. I just personally, see more pros than cons. I think, if you want to change what has been around for longer than you think, you have a big project on your hands.

  17. James Howard says:

    The satellite cameras are amazingly good, but they are not busy looking at me – they are looking at Afghanistan and North Korea and other places. It takes an incredible amount of resources to analyze that data, and it is not being wasted on Tucson.

    Cameras which read license plates and do facial recognition are a pretty new concept, and their application is very worrisome to me and a lot of registered voters.

  18. Meri says:

    Not looking at you but other places huh? Really? Well you are probably right but just remember that DM is here in Tucson, Fort Huachuca, the communications base, is in Sierra Vista and the USA is NOT the only one with ‘eyes in the sky”. But OK…so maybe they are not caring if you are cheating on your spouse, have an incontinent eposide, fall, blow through a red light, split your pants or pick you nose. If you are not worried about the ‘eyes in the sky’ then do not worry about the intersection cameras. They MAY come in handy for you, personally, should you be a victim of a crime, or involved in an accident where you are NOT at fault. So chill, worry about things you CAN change like, say, not driving 1-2 times a week to improve the air quality, paying for the groceries of a young mother using food stamps, letting the other person into traffic even though you are late and need to get there (remember, they may need to ‘get there’ faster then you do), enjoy why you are given a red light day. 9/11 folks delayed from entering the towers because of a broken shoe lace, needing to stop to get the daily donuts or whatever, sure are! Yes, worry about what you can change, celebrate what is and just live!

  19. Meri says:

    Another thing I want to ask you to produce James is law on what you report is “national standard” on yellow lights. I am confused on that one. So maybe you can report back to us what that law is. Or, as you put it, what the “national standard” is in written form. You see, I read things differently. There is federal law. Then as long as it does not lesson the fed law, there is state law, under that is county law and under that is city law. Each cannot undermine that law above it, but can inhance it. So what the heck is “national standard”? A timing of a yellow light is the same in, say, Billings Montana as it is in New York City? The everglades of Florida? The beaches of San Diego? The swamps of Louisanna? What about Hawaii? You have been there too and timed them to make sure they are the “national standard”? Quote me case law on it. I need the education.

    Having lived several years in Germany, I am surprised that it took so long to get traffic cameras here. Tell me the truth. Really, be honest. Would you rather get flashed by a camera for speeding thru an intersection (I know you do not do that, but play along here) or by a motorcycle cop in leathers and heavy helmet on a 110 degree day when you KNOW his temper HAS to be limited? I think the camera will be more impartial. Just my feeling on that score.

    Finally, the end truth here is if you do not like what the law is here in Tucson, move. There are too many people here anyway.

  20. James Howard says:

    What I object to is the law that is enforced by the red light cameras at Oracle and River is inadequately communicated to the citizens. In fact, it contradicts what is in the Arizona Driver License Manual. Time for another article.

  21. Jman says:

    Cameras are employed by people. Cameras are indifferent, people are not. What purposes are the cameras put to and who makes that determination? Would you want 24 hour per day surveillance being conducted in Hitler’s Germany or Kim Jong Il’s Korea? There is a world of information recorded by a camera having nothing to do with the violation of traffic laws. Information can be used for your defense but it can also be used to your detriment. On ballance, I would prefer not to be photographed unless I am posing for the camera. Jman

  22. Zebra says:

    I understand your points. I felt indifferent at most to the cameras until I got a ticket (first in 30 years) and started looking into why it just ‘felt wrong.’ It is a huge scam. The more I found out, the madder I got.

    Maybe the technology could be helpful in theory, but ATS, TPD and the council have already proven they cannot be trusted with it.

    These are some of the standards people are referring to: http://www.azdot.gov/Highways/traffic/standards/PGP/TM621.pdf. They mirror national standards.

    That intersection has a 45 MPH speed limit, with 2 400′ left turn bays, on a decreasing downgrade from about 4% to about 1% at the intersection.

  23. Meri says:

    Thank You for the information.

    I’m looking forward to yout next debate issue.

  24. James Howard says:

    Meri, thank you for being civil.

  25. Aaron says:

    I became interested in this topic after hearing some folks chat at the place I was getting my haircut. I google’d and ended up here.

    Bill – can you verify that the company which records traffic violations has access to driver information? In my mind the safest way for the system to work would be that ATS records the plate, time, speed info and submits it to law enforcement. This prevents ATS from doing anything other than logging when certain license plates cross the radar and are speeding. This assumes that plates are only logged when violating the speed limit.

    How does a person know that the traveller is actually not home? Suppose the person works graveyard? What if they have odd hours and are dropping their kids off to school or day care and then return home to sleep?

    Why do all these conversations stem from the fact that its all bad because the information can be used for ‘other evil purposes?’ Can you please cite examples, with references, of where info leaks or information mismanagement have occurred related to speed cameras and the results?

    Suppose the police park a speed camera outside a school zone. And after a week, they remove it. A few days later a child is abducted. Now suppose the plate database is queried and it turns out a registered child sex offender was going through the school zone 5 times a day. The police investigate and it turns out the child was abducted by the known offender. How do we allow this type of positive situation, but prevent abuse of the system?

    Kind regards.

  26. Louise says:

    I got a ticket early one morning for making right on yellow without stopping at crosswalk first…no traffic was there. I was confused as I never heard of making a stop on yellow, which is caution. I was going under 10 miles per hour and cleared all directions. Light didn’t turn red until I was nearly finished with the turn. I guess they would say I should have known the rules. I have never run a yellow cross traffic, I am always careful and this was my first moving ticket ever after 55 years of driving…never even had an accident..but will cost me $300.00. Camera and video were avail on line..I am sick over this…I chose traffic school #150.00…unbelievable…what a trap those cameras are.

  27. Jeff W says:

    I have noticed that Marana and Pima County now are putting 360 degree surveillance cameras at intersections. Marana list the locations of theirs on the web but Pima is quiet. Noticed Ruthrauff 1 location, Wetmore road 3 locations Prince Road 1 location and so on.

    I wonder if these camera viewing data will be available on line. I wonder if they are recording the same sort of information in this article. I wonder if this is the plan for every intersection.

  28. James Howard says:

    Is that what those things on poles that are white with the black hemisphere on the bottom are?

  29. sean says:

    I’m sorry, but i can’t sit quietly anymore on this topic. are you people for real?? listen to yourselves–“expectation of privacy”, 1st & 4th Ammend. rights violated, big brother tracking, etc. etc.?? WOW what a crock, have you all forgotten your AZ. driver’s lic. is a priviledge and not a right?? when you accepted the responsiblity & priviledge to drive in arizona there was a reasonable expectation you would abide by the rules and regulations–right?? let me say it again–expectation you would follow the rules of the road, and yes that means speed limits, red lights, wherever, whenever not just when others (law enforcement)are present or not? time to look in the mirror for an integrity check or self discipline refresher course. WOW don’t hear to many people talking about that now do you?? take responsibility for your actions, of course not, put something in place to prevent/deter the very people committing the violations being photo’d, or fines/punishments being avoided, no action taken or let’s see if we get caught or served?? if or when your served than cry wolf. what message/example are you sending to your children—go ahead son, speed, committ crimes just don’t get your picture taken or caught no big deal?? what a joke, let’s complain about privacy or or big brother tracking or how not to pay for violating the law whether and officer was standing there or not, you can view your violation real time online, most people don’t know that. let’s complain about how your served rather than what law you violated. no one wants to hear about that, or better yet–hey how about this, lives the very cameras may be saving by slowing some of you down or not running the yellow you may have used to?? hummm, now there’s an idea. someone mentioned how the intersection @ river/oracle is rigged, but failed to mention or know statically speaking, it is the # 1 (number one) worst intersection in the entire state of arizona for collisions, not just worst intersection in tucson, but the entire state–way to go privacy lovers!! you know the # 1 factor in collisions–it’s speeding, which leads to running red lights because they are impatient or selfish, or have a mind set “can i make this yellow” rather than slow down and stop when they should have. for those of you that don’t know or just want to jump on the camera wagon, arizona is the worst state in the entire country for red light running (violators), i haven’t checked lately but last year i believe arizona claimed 3 of the top 5 cities in the country for red light running, tucson being # 4 or 5. bottom line folks these cameras are a tool/deterrent against speeding or red light violators and to save lives, whether or not you want to agree that is the bottom line. so what, if someone is making money off of these camaeras, you want to put them out of business–stop running red lights and speeding-then there will be no violators, in turn no citations issued or money to be gained–i know it’s only a idea that will never happen but i’d like to wish one day everyone would stop complaining and come up w/ a solution to a serious issue, rather than find ways to get rid of a solution in place that is working. let’s see prior to cameras @ intersections you couldn’t get a skateboard through because everyone was crammed in the intersection (heaven forbid an emergency vehicle had to get thr) but now, intersections are clear and most commutors only go when arrow to turn is lit. so for those of you who have gotten a photo ticket–suck it up, think of all the other thousands of times you didn’t get caught or an officer let you go because you plead your sob story and take responsibilty for your actions. if you don’t like the rules of the game don’t play, you don’t like the cameras don’t drive. so i hope the cameras stay.

    i’m for any means of saving lives aren’t you???

  30. Tucson Taxpayer says:

    Sean, You are either a redfuc employee, retired slow dangerous driver or a cop. Your ramble makes me wonder what meds your on and you are probably one of the idiots here in Tucson that has to hit your brakes and slow to at least 10 miles and hour under the posted speed limit when you drive by one of these cameras. You are exactly the type of brainwashed citizen our goverment loves, Go back to watching oprah to find out what the latest book is you must go buy and read.

  31. Steve Kasian says:

    James Howard: Listen, I am all for outlawing these cameras, as they have been proven time and time again to be a complete scam (See: http://video.foxnews.com/v/3985291/red-light-cameras-not-wanted ), not to mention the fact that the whole service bit violates the same laws that officials cite to support their use.

    But you really need to change your whole approach here because your arguements are just plain weak. Sean, while probably a cop or whatever, is absolutely correct. As he and others here have said, there is no reasonable expectation of privacy in public… especially not while operating a motor vehicle on public highways. You can argue with that until you’re blue in the face, but it only makes you look like a cook who’s really, really reaching – kinda like one of those people who claim driving is a right, not a privilege, and that you don’t legally have to pay taxes if your a sovereign individual under US common law and have never applied for a Social Security #, etc, etc,etc. It makes for entertaining arguement, but it’s all bunk, pure and simple.

    The bottom line is, there are no “x Ammendment” rights being violated by employing these camera systems. There most certainly ARE, however, real world reasons why they should be banned.

    Some of the problems with them are as follows:

    #1. The service of the citation and the question of it’s validity without proper, personal service.

    #2. The right of every citizen of the U.S. accused of a crime to face and question their accusor, which is impossible when one’s accusor is a machine.

    #3. Inconsistencies in how they are programmed, and questions regarding the legalities of those insonsistencies.

    #4. The general arguement by officials employing their use that they are used to make our roads safer and reduce accidents. Not only has this never it has actually been proven to be false by a multitude of studies. In fact, according to some of those studies, these cameras have actually been found to INCREASE the number and frequency of accidents at intersections where they are employed.

    #5. The general overall corruption going on with the use of these things to generate money for the companies that install and maintain them and the governmental entities who use them. The “scam” aspect of it all, if you will.

    There are many more valid arguements to be made against them as well – SANE arguements – which don’t require stupid, unrealistic “possible scenarios” which, even in the unlikelihood they did actually occur, don’t have any bearing on the “constitutionality” of their use.

    I suggest that since you’ve obviously put a lot of time, effort and at least some money into this website, your should really step back and take an objective look at your arguements. Observe the fact that you seem to have a roughly 50/50 split on agreement/disagreement amongst your readers. This should tell you that you’re doing something very wrong here, as most level headed people would tend to agree, provided they are given all the facts, that these cameras are just a bad idea all the way around.

    Just my 2 cents.
    Steve Kasian

  32. Betsy Ross says:

    Disagree with Mr. Kasdian on his support of the police’s version of Americans civil rights. You do have the right to be left alone by government (and these ARE GOVERNMENT CONTRACTORS AND THUS INHERENTLY STATE ACTORS OF THE ARIZONA STATE GOVERNMENT) unless there is probable cause that you are involved in illegal activities, thus warrants must be issued to both question, and search the property in criminal matters. This is, in essence, search and seizure without a warrant since this company is a branch of government due to the contractual nature of their conracts with the state.

    But I agree with your other points, but the major one is that it is a violation of your personal effects, “your OWN IMAGE and that of your vehicle.”

  33. Betsy Ross says:

    And those city and state officials are really, really cagey – going into a partnership actually with a “global” and foreign corporation, which RedFlex is, they can argue then is LEGAL since it is not a U.S. based corporation, technically, which is violating your rights (really, really insane – since as government contractors it is illegal evidence no matter who is taking those images, without a search warrant or physical witness filing a complaint, and not a rubber stamped policeman’s digital one).

  34. Law A. Bidingcitizen says:

    betsy….. you are at the online version of a ghost town…. nobody here and nobody going to be here…. and if you dont like what is going on..travel 90 miles south…. you may find the mexican government more to your liking

  35. Steve Kasian says:

    @ Law A. Bidingcitizen: You are a known homosexual. I’m pretty sure a Mexican jail would suit you best out of all the people who have posted here.

  36. Ernest T.Bass says:

    yes steve…. i thought i had seen you at the gay bar’s

    whats the one called on oracle just past prince?

  37. Ernest T.Bass says:


    Mr. Bill….. I never figured you for a quitter but it seems that is what you have done here. The mother ship site is trying to auction off this ghost town to the highest bidder….. well actually they are so desperate that the word FREE is attached to the offer. So what happened? did you start your own Krispy Kreme or Dunkin Donuts? That empty lot next to where you work is a prime location…. I mean cops and donuts are like water & ice, chocolate and peanut butter, milk and cookies…. you get my drift!! the funny thing is the same mother ship site has you liste as an assistant organizer. What gives? I think you owe an explanation to the 3 people left here as to just what the hell happened!! Then again, explanations to the citizens are rare in your line of work.

    On a seperate matter…. have you visited Steve’s bar and grill ? its off of oracle and prince !!

  38. Ernest T.Bass says:


    this just in, Diane and Mark, assistant organizers for Camerafraud.com are starting a pretition drive in tucson…. around 10,000 needed …. one problem…. neither are residents of the city of tucson…. so the wait is on to see if they can get 3 volunteers to be the names that represent the initiative,,,, my guess is it will be december before they can get 3 volunteers!! oh we are having fun now!!

  39. suki says:


  40. 44-0-slime ( 4409 ) says:

    next time i recommend a doggie bullet proof vest !!!

  41. 44-0-slime ( 4409 ) says:

    and suki….. you are pretty much an idiot…. you dont have to declare that tucson is in pima county !! duh !!! woof woof !!

  42. 44-0-slime ( 4409 ) says:

    i claim this site as my own… and will sell it to the lowest bidder !!

  43. Steve Kasian says:

    OH NO YOU DON’T, 44-0-slime ( 4409 ) – THIS SITE IS MINE!!!


  44. Steve Kasian says:

    STILL PWNED 12-31-2015!!!

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