PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – The American Civil Liberties Union is raising privacy concerns about PennDOT’s traffic camera network in the region.

Mary Catherine Roper, staff attorney for the ACLU of Pennsylvania, said anecdotal stories about the activities of stopped motorists along the side of major roadways from a PennDOT traffic control specialist who monitors the network from King of Prussia raised the privacy issue for her.

The employee’s comments were published in a suburban newspaper and recalled illegal activities that he observed and reported to law enforcement.

In one case, the PennDOT employee confirmed he had to go to court to testify because the cameras are live and not connected to a recording device.

Roper believes the state needs to come up with strict rules for operators, “That they’re not looking at somewhere other than the highway. That if they glance at a vehicle and see that it’s not disabled that that really is the end of what PennDOT should be doing. They’re not police.”

PennDOT spokesman Gene Blaum said the network’s focus is spotting disabled motorists and accidents and getting help, “Just having a vehicle stuck on the shoulder of a roadway will slow down main line traffic so our whole intention is to get the vehicles off the roadways and keep the lanes open.”

Blaum says there have been occasions that police have been called to investigate incidents, but those cases are rare.

Reported by Mark Abrams, KYW Newsradio

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