Iowa Supreme Court Rejects Speed Camera Transparency

Cities in Iowa that use speed cameras can continue to conceal the information they generate. The state Supreme Court on Friday ruled against a former Ottumwa police sergeant who had sought data from the city’s for-profit, private vendor Redspeed. Mark Leonard Milligan used freedom of information laws to request the names of people who were sent tickets as well as the names of people who were photographed but had their photo ticket canceled by Redspeed. His goal was to determine whether enforcement was fair “across the board between all citizens.”

Ottumwa refused to turn over the information, and a lower court judge ordered the city to comply, pointing to an exception in the federal privacy law allowing release of a driver’s information related to “driving violations.” A divided Iowa Supreme Court rejected that analysis.

“We disagree with the district court,” Justice Edward M. Mansfield wrote for the majority. “Automated traffic enforcement camera citations do not involve ‘driving violations.'”