Proposed legislation would black out traffic enforcement with Chinese-made cameras

The bill follows other laws that indicate growing unease with China’s involvement in U.S. affairs.

If traffic enforcement cameras are made in China — or have parts made there — two Miami-area Republican lawmakers are proposing legislation that would stop them from monitoring traffic in this state.

Republicans Sen. Alexis Calatayud and Rep. Demi Busatta Cabrera are proposing identical legislation (SB 1464/HB 1363) that brings new scrutiny to what’s watching activity out on the street.

“The bill ensures we have proper transparency and reporting requirements as usage of red light cameras increases across the state,” Busatta Cabrera texted Florida Politics in response to questions about the bill. “We must ensure these programs are in place for the purpose of promoting public safety and not to profit off hardworking Floridians.”

The legislation was filed days before a proposal that would install a speed detection camera system to enforce school zone rules pulls up in front of a Miami-Dade County Commission Committee. According to a proposal due for a Committee vote on Monday, fines would pay for the contracted camera system for speed detection.

Red-light camera system citations peaked in 2016-17 with more than 170 million notices of red-light violations sent out, according to a Fiscal Year 2022 report from the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles.

Miami-Dade County’s administration is recommending the approval of a $215 million, six-year contract for a camera system to improve safety around schools for a six-year term. Legislation (HB 657) passed last year allowed the speed detection systems with a smattering of Republicans voting “no.”

Busatta Cabrera did not mention it in her reason for proposing the legislation, but the Chinese surveillance state has been getting more attention lately. One Chinese city is said to have one camera for every six residents — 1.58 million cameras covering 15.35 million people, the Guardian reported.

Even if you’ve never set foot in China, a Chinese company’s cameras have likely captured you. Hikivision, which began as a Chinese state entity and maintains close ties with China’s leaders, has captured 12% of the North American street surveillance market, The Atlantic reported.

The bill follows other laws that indicate growing unease with China’s involvement in U.S. affairs. Last year, Gov. Ron DeSantis signed three bills to “counteract the malign influence of the Chinese Communist Party in the state of Florida,” according to a news release from his office.

One currently under court appeal, prohibits governmental entities from contracting with “countries of concern,” including China, from buying agricultural lands. Another law approved last year cracks down on state college and university personnel accepting gifts or participating in partnerships with the same. Still another prohibits the use of the Chinese-founded social media application TikTok on state-issued cellphones and devices.

Busatta Cabrera said she didn’t know if the proposed Miami-Dade County contract for speed monitoring included cameras made in China.

Anne Geggis

Anne Geggis is a South Florida journalist who began her career in Vermont and has worked at the Sun-Sentinel, the Daytona Beach News-Journal and the Gainesville Sun covering government issues, health and education. She was a member of the Sun-Sentinel team that won the 2019 Pulitzer Prize for coverage of the Parkland high school shooting. You can reach her on Twitter @AnneBoca or by emailing [email protected].

One comment

  • Earl Pitts "Sage Political Expert Emaritas" American

    January 8, 2024 at 2:15 am

    Good Morn ‘Ting America,
    This is “Sage Legislation” in many ways. These cameras are providing The Chinks real time visual evidence of whats going on in the streets of our “Great Nation”. We are stupid for allowing The Chinks over in “Chink-Land” to watch their “Chink Army” as it invades our Great Nation and slaughters our Good Honest Hard-Working Americans.
    These Chink Cameras are even more invasive than “Lunch Box Joe’s” Chink Spy Balloon.
    Then theres the issue of enriching Florida’s Dook 4 Brains Leftist ran local governments off the backs of Good Hard-Working Honest American Patriots. “NOT GOOD”.
    Anyone that supports these dangerous “Chink” cameras is a Dook 4 Brains Leftist and we are going to put a stop to this foolishness in The Great State of Florida.
    Thank you America,
    Earl Pitts American

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