Published June 05, 2013
Local police officers' use of sophisticated drone surveillance has prompted debate across much of America, but one Iowa town is taking its concern a step further.
Iowa City is moving to ban not only drones, but also red light cameras and license plate recognition systems.
An ordinance to restrict the use of traffic enforcement cameras, drones and automatic license plate recognition systems passed unanimously during its first reading at a City Council meeting on Tuesday evening. The ordinance will have second and third votes on June 18.
The ordinance was proposed by a citizen group called Stop Big Brother, a group composed of Iowa City residents opposed to the growing use of surveillance technology.
"Surveillance technology, and in particular traffic surveillance technology, is increasingly being pushed by technology vendors and device manufacturers to municipalities across the country under the banner of increased public safety," StopBigBrother.org writes on its website. "At its core, though, traffic surveillance has little to do with safety and everything to do with revenue. Worse yet, our liberties, constitutional rights, and this country's founding principles all end up being the collateral damage."
Stop Big Brother's initiative even won the endorsement of the ACLU, who wrote to the City Council on behalf of the group's founders Aleksey Gurtovoy and Martha Hampel.
While Iowa City does not currently use drones as traffic enforcement, Gurtovoy says his group is being "proactive."
"The city might say they have no plans (for drones or license plate readers) but it's been our experience that this can change in a very short amount of time," Gurtovoy told the publication Ars Technica.
City Attorney Eleanor Dilkes told FoxNews.com it's likely the drone restriction passed merely because it "doesn't have any effect."
"What it came down to is the ordinance won't really affect operations at this point," Dilkes said. "There's only a two-year period of time which the Council is bound."