Testimony regarding Connecticut’s HB5429 and traffic surveillance cameras
Image by Republica from Pixabay

Testimony regarding Connecticut’s HB5429 and traffic surveillance cameras

Wednesday, the state legislature’s Transportation Committee is discussing Representative Lamar’s proposed HB5429. While it has important features including safety for work zones and a Greenways commemorative account, I have some concerns about the surveillance aspect of the speed camera pilot. Below is my written testimony:

Dear Chair Lamar, Ranking Member Somers, Ranking Member Carney, Vice Chair Cassano, Vice Chair Simms, and Members of the Transportation Committee,

My name is Chris Garaffa. I am a resident of New Haven. I am testifying with concerns regarding Connecticut HB 5429, An Act Concerning Pedestrian Safety, Vision Zero Council, Speed Limits In Municipalities, Fines And Charges For Certain Violations, The Greenways Commemorative Account And Maintenance Work Zone And School Zone Safety Enforcement.

My concerns are specifically around the implementation of a pilot for automated traffic enforcement safety devices. There are significant privacy implications to the continued and expanding use of red light cameras, speed cameras and other surveillance methods. As of 2019, eighteen states have banned the use of these devices.

I’ll start out by saying I appreciate the thought put into Section 16(b)(3) regarding the requirement that the devices will only capture a license plate number and not the occupants or anyone else in the vicinity. The contract for these devices needs to explicitly ensure that if the device initially captures more than the license plate in a photo, it removes all other information before saving the photo to its internal storage or transmitting it off the device via a network. Audits as defined in Section 17(f) must include a review to confirm that no extraneous information has been stored or transmitted.

Section 17(c) properly calls for the Department of Transportation, municipality or contractor to send notice of disclosure of their information to the individual subject to judicial review, but the party responsible for disclosure should be made explicit in the law, and it should be the responsibility of the DOT or municipality, not a private contractor who cannot be held accountable. This notification should explicitly be defined to include the agency/department, order/warrant number, name of the judge or other person approving the warrant and any other details provided so that the recipient has the most information possible about use of their data.

Section 17(d) provides for a 60 day retention period for captured images if a citation is not issued. Should the Division of State Police choose not to issue a citation, the images should be deleted immediately as there can be no other need for saving them. 

Finally, the annual audits for the pilot programs should be evaluated by an external company chosen by the DOT to guarantee the methods and data collected.

My fears regarding this bill center around the storage and access by private entities and government agencies of the location of a person at any given time. While the privacy aspects of the bill are a good start, they could be much stronger to guarantee privacy of people using public roadways in Connecticut.

I also wish to express concern regarding the increased fines and penalties as laid out in the bill. For the wealthy residents of our state, an increase from $20 to $25 may be meaningless. For others, that $5 could be a significant amount of money, especially as we are still dealing with a pandemic that has no end in sight.

Thank you for your consideration,
Chris Garaffa
New Haven

CT residents may submit written testimony via email to tratestimony@cga.ct.gov. Mention HB 5429 in the subject line. Attach it as a PDF and send it by 11:30am Wednesday, January 27th.